What & Who is Your Optimal Customer Profile?

Scott BinnieDigital Marketing Strategy FundamentalsLeave a Comment

One of the most often heard problems facing visionaries, disruptors and truly passionate entrepreneurs is that they don't know where to start to create a marketing strategy. Many spend most of their time and focus on the development and production of their services or product. A common belief is that their market is everyone, so just "getting out there" will bring success. There has been no thought towards identifying their optimal customer profiles.

It is nearly impossible to think of any business whose market base is really "everyone". Try it. Think of some of the largest businesses you know of, and you'll probably find that they promote themselves to very specific target markets. It's true that some businesses such as banks sell to most people, but that is not who they target. Banks focus on businesses, homeowners and the stable employed. Why? Because those are the people who borrow, and the banks make much of their profits from lending. They may offer other products to support their domination of the market, but they don't tend to spend much administering or any marketing dollars promoting those products.

Optimal Customer Profile

You may have noticed that I used the phrase "optimal customer profile" rather than the more traditional 'ideal customer profile', or ICP.  The concept of 'ideal' implies perfection, and although I like and have a great deal of respect for my clients, no-one is perfect. The chances of you actually identifying, reaching and selling to an ideal customer are nebulous at best. So what is an optimal customer profile ("OCP")?

An 'optimal client' is created from "the wish list of traits in a customer(ed.) you want to acquire" (Inc.com). The 'profile' is an imaginary personification or avatar of an optimal client used to make marketing discussions easier. The idea is to gather as much information as you can about your optimal customer and then create an imaginary persona of someone who has those characteristics.

The Customer Profiling Process

The processes used vary from company to company and agency to agency, but the fundamentals are all generally the same. The categories or segmentations sought usually include:

  • Demographics which include the basic traits that you might find in something like census data. These characteristics may include age, stage of life, sex/gender, generation moniker, sexual orientation, marital status, number of children, nationality, income level, education level, home ownership, place of residence, occupation, pet ownership, political affiliation and religious affiliation. Depending on the company, there may be more or fewer attributes used.

  • Psychographics "is the study of consumers based on their activities, interests, and opinions (marketers call these AIOs)." "Psychographics focuses on understanding cognitive attributes, such as customer emotions, values, and attitudes, among other psychological factors." (CB Insights). Again, depending on the company, there may be more or fewer attributes used.

  • Geodemographics; "segmentation is the statistical classification of people (demographics) based on where they live (geography). The analysis relies on two primary principles:

    • People who live next to each other are more likely to share common characteristics than two people chosen at random.

    • Locations can be categorized by the characteristics and demographics of their residents. If they have a similar demographic makeup, multiple locations can fall into the same category even if they are separated by great distances." (Spatially.com)

  • Socioeconomics is based on the social standing of your optimal customer. It is often measured as a combination of the education, income and occupation data researched as part of the overall demographics.

  • Brand Affinity is a metric that enables you to predict how a consumer will behave based on their recognition and perception of your branding. Hey, that's a mouthful, but it means how likely is your OCP to buy from you based on what they feel about your brand.

  • Needed Benefits are the specific advantages that your OCP look for when shopping for the goods or services you provide. Remember, you have to look at everything from the perspective of your Optimal Customer Profile, not from yours.

Where To Find The Data

There are three ways you can find the data needed to properly identify your Optimal Customer Profile:

  1. From Existing Business

    If you've been in business for a while with some moderate degree of success, your best and most easily accessed source of information is your customer base. More specifically, pick out the best customers you have now and have had in the past. After all, you want your future customers to be similar.

    Once they have been identified, there are a number of methods you can use to assemble the information you're after from them, such as:

    • Interviews. Design an interview questionaire to use. Ask questions about the pain points that you alleviated and what your customers actually thought about the goods or services you provided. In addition, question them about the other factors from the list above.

    • Research Groups. If you have the resources (either time and staff or a budget), and can get a group of customers together, running research group meetings can provide you with invaluable data about what your customers like and want, as well as what they don't.

    • Video Conferencing. There are a number of good and inexpensive video conferencing products available to enable you to use your laptop or webcam to meet with either one or many customers in a visual discussion.  This is a particularly good option for those whose customers may be across a wide geographic divide.

    • CRM Data. If you have and properly use a Customer Relationship Management system, there will be a great deal of useful data that can be mined from all of the information that has been collected. Even if you or your company only uses the most basic functions of your CRM, there may well be nuggets of gold contained.

    • Email/Online Questionnaires. No matter how well you know your customers, and how badly you want the information, there are times when the only way to reach them is either by email or online surveys. It's better if you can email them and have them answer an online survey, but in worst case, you may have to set up a series of emails, or at least provide them with a document they can download and then return.
  2. From External Sources

    But, what happens if you're running a startup; or if you've decided that your business must take an entirely new direction? In these cases, you probably won't have access to the available customers that you would need to gather the information you need.

    However, there are still a number of sources available to give you general information about your Optimal Customer Profile. And, almost all of these sources have contact points online, so make Google your friend and learn to use it properly! Here are some examples:

    • Basic Census Data. Much of the general census information that is collected is made available online, and much of that can even be found for free. If not, reports can be purchased for a fairly moderate price from the federal government to help you in your research.

    • Competitor Websites. OK. we're not advocating plagiarism here, but if you have one or two really successful competitors, chances are that they are doing something right online to be that successful. Isolate what that is and put your own spin on it.

    • Online Groups. A number of social media outlets including Facebook and LinkedIn have provided ways for groups of like-minded individuals to get together to ask questions and generally interact with each other. These are great places to find out what their pain points are and the goods and services they're looking for.

    • Industry Associations. Almost all industry associations of any means have a website, and most of them publish content that would be useful for anyone researching that area. Some of them publish their industry-based print publications online, and many support blogs or Question and Answer pages to provide additional information. Obviously, their goal is to get you to join the organization.

    • Industry-Related Job Websites. When look at the type of positions that your Optimal Customer Profile is advertising for, you get to look into their business. The result is that you have a greater appreciation for what your customer does, how they choose to do it, and, most importantly, the problems (pain points) they are experiencing.
  3. From Professional Digital Marketing Strategists

    In some cases, either you don't have the resources in time or manpower to be able to get all this stuff together. We find that most clients are (rightfully) spending most of their time trying to manage and grow their businesses, and have realized that the job of creating and executing a professional (primarily digital) marketing strategy is simply not in their wheelhouse of expertise. In such cases they reach out to businesses like Zuzubuzz Digital to provide them with the expertise they need to move their business forward in these challenging times.

What to Do With Your Optimal Customer Profile

Once you have figured out exactly who your OCP is, you can then research the information you will need in order to put together an Optimal Customer Marketing Plan. The steps you'll have to take involve discovering the other 4'W's (and an 'H') of digital marketing strategy.

Previous: An Introduction to the 5 W's or Digital Marketing

Next: Why Does Your Optimal Customer Buy From You?

About Scott Binnie

I'm a life-long entrepreneur who's learned a great deal from my 40+ years business and marketing experience. Most likely, I've faced many of the same struggles you may be facing right now. However, I've learned that there are ways to increase both business growth and the time you spend on other things. Life/work balance is crucial.

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What & Who is Your Optimal Customer Profile? was last modified: November 5th, 2019 by Scott Binnie
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What and Who is Your Optimal Customer Profile?
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What and Who is Your Optimal Customer Profile?
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What and Who is Your Optimal Customer Profile? One of the most often heard problems facing visionaries, disruptors and truly passionate entrepreneurs - where to start to create a marketing strategy. Try to think of any business whose market base is really "everyone". It doesn't work. Zuzubuzz can provide the information you need to successfully identify your Optimal Customer Profile!
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