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Take This Systematic Approach to Identify Your Ideal Customer The easiest way to make your marketing campaign brilliant is to first recognize the sort of person who needs your product.

By Larry Alton

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In business, understanding the characteristics, attitudes and behaviors of the "primary customer" is crucial for a successful marketing campaign. Companies that fail to consider which audience is most likely to become their loyal customers miss out on valuable growth opportunities.

Related: The 3 Questions You Have to Answer to Get Your Customers Eager to Buy

There are several methods a firm can use to identify its ideal customer personas, as described by GetResponse blogger Marya Jan. Here they are.

4 Indicators of persona

1. Age. Your target customer has a particular age range. Individuals at different ages and stages of life relate to generational norms, understand distinct colloquialisms and rhetoric. They use television and the Internet in their own ways.

2. Gender. Males and females are different. Gender causes us to be genetically separable in ways that motivate our behaviors. Men understand needs versus wants differently from women. The two genders tackle tasks in different ways, and they tend to measure value in distinct and contrasting ways. Understanding which gender your product or service targets is important. If your firm caters to both genders, separate or congruent marketing campaigns should be employed.

Related: Marketing Must: Customer Data Points to Stop Ignoring -- Now

3. Race. Though stereotypes are inaccurate and inappropriate, race deserves consideration. Race and ethnicity are sometimes an indicator of how people interpret and perceive a communication. Be careful to ensure the wording you use in a promotional ad is not offensive in another language. Remember the demographic of your audience when you craft its content.

4. Status. If you include income breakdowns, educational levels and occupations, status can say a lot about your target audience. Just as you wouldn't put a Ferrari billboard in a low-income neighborhood, you want to be sure that the way you communicate with your potential customers suits their level of comprehension, affordability and lifestyle.

5 steps to reach targeted personas

1. Location, location, location. Consider the lives of your target customers. Where do they tend to be at a given time of day? Mobile apps or responsive websites are more versatile than television ads, but if your demographic group is over 60, you might want to consider expanding beyond the digital market to reach everyone. Just don't neglect it completely.

2. Market to individual needs. If you embodied the target persona, what would you need? Determining need is the first step of the purchase process. Cutting-edge companies lead their industries by identifying needs for customers instead of waiting for customers to see it for themselves. Commercial videos and other content can remind customers to refill, upgrade or welcome a product based on a deficit in the customer's life.

3. Communicate benefits. Make certain that all communications regarding your product or service offer something that would benefit this target market. If you are targeting college-aged males, focus on enhancing energy, athletic performance, academic performance or pull with the ladies. Women over 50 may be looking for anti-aging enhancement, health and weight loss benefits, family-friendly advantages, or stress relief ... things to make life easier.
4. Respect the process. The five steps below encompass the purchase process. Reaching your target audience at every step of this process is key.

  • Perception of need – Do more than indicate availability and service to customers who have perceived a need. Go the extra mile and determine a need for customers who may not have yet realized it was time to replenish, replace, or upgrade a given item or treat themselves to an indulgent service.

  • Seeking a valuable product or service – Exposure is key, and when customers are looking for ways to fulfill a need or solve a problem, your company and its products or services must be available.

  • Assessing comparative options – Qualifying as one of the top two or three choices in a purchase process demands an edge. Determine what you might have over your competitors and flaunt it.

  • Choosing a winner – Stand out by offering extended warranties, a fabulous return policy, or simply a wonderful product or service so that the customer will be happy.

  • Evaluating the choice – Seek and synthesize customer feedback for best results in future product design, service restructuring, or re-marketing.

5. Address lapsed customer engagement. Slumps are often the best time to reevaluate data and seek feedback to determine why a campaign has faltered or which parts of your target market are unrepresented. Use analytics, customer surveys, and other trackers to gather data, then synthesize to determine whose needs are unmet.

Some customers will be outliers to the targeted demographic -- and that's perfectly okay. The idea is to focus most of your communications toward a sensible group and expand from there.

Beginning with a targeted foundation will ensure concision and direction in your marketing efforts.

Related: Do Your Marketing Messages Target the Right Personas?

Larry Alton

Freelance Writer & Former Entrepreneur

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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