Offering the Ideal Solution:

Do you need to know everything about your customer?

Demographics are stale. Maybe even dead. We live in a global world— “white guys from Hoboken, New Jersey, with an Audi and a subscription to Sports Illustrated” isn’t what you need to know about your customers, and frankly, I doubt it’s true. If you know what circumstances brought the buyer to you, you can look for ways to target that circumstance.

While I recommend you know everything you can about him or her, you don’t need to know everything about your customer—even though you have an Ideal Customer, and for some businesses, they may even fit a certain demographic. That doesn’t make them your ideal.

That customer is your ideal because when they have a need, they remember that you have the Ideal Solution.

When they have a need

Your buyers came to you when… X.

Know what X is, you can look for people who are about to have X in their lives, and build a relationship with them in advance.

If you’re a blog author, picture that circumstance when writing the blog, then weave it into the narrative over time. You’ll get bored coming back to the theme over and over, but you’ll never bore the reader who says, “Yeah, that’s me, today! He really understands X, and I know he can help!”

If you’re a store owner, work it into your marketing materials, and make sure your staff knows all about X, too. To stand out from the crowd of wanna-bes, they’ve got to be trained in empathy for the symptoms (even if it’s needing a lipstick after The Essential *Boom* hits). They’ve got to look for the telltale signs, they’ve got to cater to the needs. You are in business for your customers, and when they choose you as the Ideal Solution to their problems, you can not afford to disappoint them. You’ve got to engineer delight.

Look for people who are about to have X in their lives

If you wait to build a relationship after X has come and gone, the business will go to those they already liked, trusted, and had faith in before that circumstance arose.

Who loses out?

The luncheonette I drive past on my way home from work every day. I’m forever saying, “Next time I want a new experience,” but when next time comes, I’ve forgotten them. (Until I drive home….)

The catalogue that comes with a nice fat coupon the week after I bought a tool that does the job, maybe not as well, locally.

The baby product manufacturers who drown new parents in marketing materials after the hospital sticks them on a mailing list (almost ten years later, I’m still plagued by this junk!). Too late. I bought everything before the seventh month when it seemed like “any day now”; I got recommendations from friends before I ever saw your irritating pink-bow mailers; I wouldn’t be swayed by cheap glossy mom-and-baby shots even if I’d waited, because right after baby’s born I’m thinking I should save the Earth for her and you’re cutting down trees to interrupt my bliss.

Build the relationship first. You’ll find your own way to do that, but keep this in mind: It isn’t who wandered into your shop, office, or blog that you need to know—it’s Why today?

Think back to the last new purchase you made, last new service you decided to try, or the last new restaurant you visited. Why that day? What circumstances made you change your buying behavior?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson