When you are working on launching or growing your social impact business, you have to consider a whole ecosystem of stakeholders you want to provide value for. Your customer is a very important one among them. Without paying customers, you won’t be able to grow a healthy business and realize the impact you want to make. Most companies look at their customers in the form of target groups. I believe there is a better, more personal and humane way to go about this and that is to visualize your ideal customer as a person.
This process isn’t just for startups. The more established businesses can utilize this exercise to identify your high-value customers. In turn, you can make use of this insight to sharpen your marketing efforts, targeting those who matter the most, and increasing your return on investment as a result.
Today, I’ll show you how I created the ideal customer profile for Flourishter. It gave me with so much insight and now I’d like to share the method with you.
By now, you’d probably know that it is my ambition to develop a platform that empowers and helps social impact entrepreneurs grow their social enterprises while becoming a catalyst for positive change. The starting point for me was to truly visualize who I am developing this for. Who is this social impact entrepreneur? What is his (or her) profile and who does he (or she) engage with? What media does he or she consume? What are their dreams and biggest fears?
This is an exercise that can’t be completed in a couple of hours. It’s a process that will take several days, weeks and maybe even months. Obviously, it will be easier if you are already engaging with people who you believe to be your ideal customers. Just ask them. But sometimes, this isn’t an available option and you’ll have to start the process on your own.
Here are the 7 steps that guided my process of creating an ideal customer profile:
1. The general profile
The starting point is the general profile. Focus on demographics such as age, gender, and background. But also think about some relevant core activities.
I visualized a person whose gender was not a relevant factor for me but here I will talk about a man. He is around 33 years old, launched a non-tech social impact business in 2016, and has been steadily growing his customer base. Although he has no business or marketing background, he is genuinely passionate about the purpose of his business and relates to this vision at a personal level. He is open-minded about the world, different cultures, and people in general. He cares about the planet and humanity and wants to make a positive contribution to the world.
2. How does he feel?
The next step is to empathize with whom the ideal person is on a more emotional level. Really dig deep within yourself to try and understand how your ideal customer feels.
For mine, he is eager to change the world and feels confident enough to have started his business. But the journey for him isn’t smooth sailing. He is challenged every day because he sees that his competitors are more successful. Some days, he feels insecure and doubts his ability to change the world on his own. Other days, he feels like the king of the world again as he welcomes another new customer.
3. How does he spend his time?
Next, try to visualize your ideal customer’s daily activities, hobbies, media consumption habits, etc. Your ideal customer is a multi-faceted individual. Therefore, you should take into account both his professional and personal lives.
Honestly, this was tough for me. I was thinking about where he would go for dinner, or what his sports preferences would be. Because I wanted to appeal to him as an entrepreneur, I thought these weren’t relevant. I was wrong though.
Since I was specifically looking for conscious-minded people, his personal activities would be highly relevant. I visualized him as someone who takes good care of his physical and mental wellness. He doesn’t really consume mainstream media that much but likes to stay up to date on world affairs. He follows leading personalities he considers as heroes in his field and he’s a big fan of personal development books. Acquiring learning experience by traveling to countries with different cultural backgrounds inspires him.
4. What are his dreams?
We all have dreams. Dreams about something we want to achieve, about a place we want to visit, people we want to meet or a contribution we want to make to the world. What would be your ideal customer’s dream?
For me, this was an easy one. My ideal customer launched a social impact business, meaning it has a social purpose. His dream (obviously) is to make a social impact by realizing that purpose. I believe his dream is to be able to live a life where making money is no longer a day-to-day necessity and that he can just spend his time on helping others and follow his passion for changing the world for the better.
5. What are his fears?
Your ideal customer will most definitely not only have dreams but also fears. During this step, you should focus on the things that are holding him back. What are some of the limiting beliefs that he might have? What stresses him out the most? What is he not doing because he is too scared?
My ideal customer is afraid that he won’t be able to succeed in his business. He will then not only fail at creating his desired social impact but also possibly not be able to make a living for himself. He’s afraid of the idea of having to return to a corporate job that he hates. He stresses about customers not valuing him for who he is. He feels anxious about his lack of business management, financial and marketing skills. Sometimes he doubts that he can really make a difference at all.
6. Capture the above in mood boards
Mood boards are an extremely valuable instrument to visualize the story you’ve created in your mind. A mood board is a type of collage consisting of images and text driven by a topic, in this case, your ideal customer. It communicates an idea of who you consider to be your ideal customer and is, therefore, a very effective presentation tool.
Mood boards may be physical or digital, whatever works for you. I challenge you to develop 3 mood boards: one about his general profile, the second about his dreams and the third about his fears.
The idea is to find images and headlines that fit your ideal customer. I created physical mood boards from a stack of magazines. With my written stories about my ideal customer in my head, I just started cutting images and texts out of the magazines that spoke to me. I laid down 3 white sheets of paper and sorted the different cut pieces to each sheet representing a mood board. After looking through all the magazines, my mood boards were still incomplete. With specific keywords in my head, I searched for new images on Google, printed those out and added them to my mood boards.
7. Finalize your ideal customer in a story
The last step is to create a story around your ideal customer that is a combination of the results of all the previous steps. Now, you will truly personify him or her. Give him a name, age, etc, to make it even more realistic!
How do you feel after completing these 7 steps? I hope this has helped you gain more insight into who your ideal customer is.
For me, Jamie made my mission so much more real. He’s the one I get out of bed for every day. He taught me the words I needed to use to appeal to him. He guided me on the topics that I needed to write about to in order to empower him the most. All of these were a result of going through this 7-step process.
I would love to know how your experience was with this exercise. And if you feel connected to my ideal customer profile, get in touch, I’d love to meet you!