Ideal customer

Who is your ideal customer? And why it’s important to get to know them

Do you know who your ideal customer is?

I do! My ideal customer is Michelle. She is 27, an actress and wants to run acting workshops to help teenagers build their self-esteem and confidence.

She also thinks she can use these workshops to help teenagers explore specific ‘difficult to discuss’ issues in a safe environment.

She wants to set up a social enterprise and get paid for running the workshops.

About Michelle

Michelle was bullied as a teenager and for a long time didn’t do particularly well at school. She feels that at times she was out of control and behaved ‘badly’.

The person who helped her to turn her life round was her drama teacher. She had always wanted to be an actress and with her help she made it to drama school, which she loved.

Since graduating she has had a few acting roles but has found it difficult to get as much acting work as she would like (or to pay the bills) so she works in a coffee shop three days a week.

She knows that the process of learning to act helped her build her own confidence and gave her direction and she now wants to use her skills to help others.

She has never worked in what she considers a ‘proper job’ or even an office and doesn’t think she has any business skills but is passionate about what she is trying to achieve.

She had the opportunity to run some workshops at her old school and they were very happy with the outcomes. Now she wants to find some paying customers and run workshops in the two days she is not at the coffee shop.

Ultimately, she would like to combine acting work with running a social enterprise and not need to do other work to supplement her income.

Michelle’s problem

Her problem, right now, is that she doesn’t know anything about marketing or how to get customers. She has lots of great ideas but feels stuck and doesn’t know where to start.

Michelle does not exist but I do all my marketing with her in mind.

Your ideal customer

Your ideal customer probably does not exist either, but if they did, they would be the person who most wants your product or service, is willing to pay the price you are asking and you really want to do business with them.

Why you should talk to your ideal customer

By creating a profile and imagining your ideal customer as a real person your marketing will be much more powerful and meaningful to your real potential customers.

If you have your ideal customer in mind when you create any marketing communication (for example, a leaflet, email or website page) you can talk to them directly and personally about things that matter to them.

When I write for Michelle I don’t mention any of her specific details but just thinking about her, what she needs and how she must feel makes it far more likely that what I say will be relevant to not only Michelle but to many other social entrepreneurs in similar situations.

You may have little in common with Michelle in terms of her life and her personal cause but if you are in my target audience it is probable that you face many of the same marketing issues so when I talk to her I hope I am also talking to you about the things that matter to you.

Imagine your ideal customer

Before you imagine your ideal customer create an ideal customer profile by listing out their basic relevant characteristics such as gender, age, role, life stage or location, and then add more detail about their purpose, values, objectives, frustrations, hopes and fears. You can add any characteristics that are relevant to your particular customer in relation to what you do.

Then, imagine a single person who displays these characteristics. Give that person a name and tell their story.

Visualise your ideal customer

Some people find it useful to find a picture of someone they think looks like their ideal customer and keep it in front of them when they write. Give it a go if you think this will work for you.

Do you have more than one type of customer?

Many social entrepreneurs have two types of customer – the ones who pay and the ones who use the service. It is useful to imagine an ideal customer for both. Your paying customer will be interested in the benefits of what you do for your end-users as well as for themselves and it is easier to draw these out with your ideal end-user customer in mind.

Please share your experience

Who is your ideal customer? Please tell us about them in the comments box below.

If you don’t have an ideal customer yet, why not create a profile and imagine them right now? You could be writing more powerful marketing material in the next hour! Don’t forget to let us know how it goes.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, please get in touch. You can email me on and ask about this or any other marketing related question you have.

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About The Author

Suzanne Cleal

I run marketing training courses that help social entrepreneurs get more customers, build sustainable businesses and make a bigger impact. I believe that social businesses owe it to their audience to develop an authentic and successful marketing approach. With the right mindset, knowledge and tools marketing does not need to be difficult or take too much time and is essential to making a real difference.

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