Your Ideal Customers (2)
Chris R Boyd

Chris R Boyd

Founder, Upspark Digital

How to identify the right customers for your business

I’ve explained in some detail in previous blogs about the pitfalls of marketing to the wrong customers:

I’ve also outlined why I think it can be costly to your business to sell to every type of buyer:

In this blog I go deeper into what I mean by the wrong customers, discuss how to identify your ‘best fit’ customers and how to attract them.

At Upspark Digital we use what we call the Max Value Triangle to make sure our clients are attracting the right customers:

You can see how we implement the triangle by looking at our bespoke framework we call our Unique Positioning Canvas. This can be found in our free tools section here.

As you’ll see from the 3 points of the triangle, this is a tool we use to align our client’s products and services with their best fit customers and the problems they solve for them. Doesn’t it sound easy? But so many businesses get this wrong and end up attracting the wrong type of customers.

In the above diagram the inner grey triangle represents the amount of value you offer to your customers. In this example, the grey triangle almost fills the outer orange triangle. The more value you provide, the more the grey will fill the triangle. So, in this example, you are already providing a lot of value to your customer.

The value you can deliver to a customer is completely dependent on your ability to align the 3 points on the triangle to your business. I know this can sound like a lot of marketing fluff so let’s use a customer example:

The business, Better Fireplaces is a showroom specialising in bespoke design and fitting of gas and electric fires.

Customer 1

Dave, 49 is looking for the cheapest electric fire for his wife, he has been online and seen a couple he likes, one on Argos and another on Amazon. He doesn’t need the fire fitted as he’s just replacing his current inset electric fire. Better Fireplaces is unable to compete on price but does it’s best to do a deal for him.

As you can see by the above diagram, the value Better Fireplaces can offer Dave is quite small. Even though the business has the ability to solve a lot of problems for customers:

  • Convenience of location
  • Safety from buying the wrong product (because it has fires on display)
  • Emotional benefit of buying a trusted brand (e.g. Dimplex) and a local aftercare service.

The problem is, these outcomes don’t solve Dave’s problem. These are solutions to other customers problems. Dave isn’t bothered where he buys from or what brand it is. He is simply looking for a quick and cheap solution. Out of politeness, Dave spends time chatting with the business owner but ultimately buys from Amazon. The business’s features: local showroom, bespoke services etc. don’t align with Dave’s values. Dave is driven by price and most of the time a showroom isn’t going to win on price.

Your showroom’s unique values cost money to maintain and you can’t and shouldn’t lower prices to compete solely on price. You need to identify customers that clearly align with your value and you need to know how to attract more of them.

Customer 2

Lizzy and Steve, a newly married couple, aged 38 and 36.

They have recently moved into their new home and are busy decorating. The house is a new-build and doesn’t really require a secondary source of heat but they have seen some fantastic linear style built-in gas fires online and have fallen in love with them. They don’t know anything about the fireplace market and have never lived in a house with a fire before. They were looking for local showrooms online and visited Better Fireplaces’ website. It mentioned bespoke design and specially trained staff so they have come to the showroom to look around.

They have a long chat with one of the showroom sales staff who advises them that a modern electric equivalent would be a better fit for their house. He shows them a few models and they see a chimney breast design that they love. After a second visit they buy the fireplace and organise fitting.

It is clear in which of these two examples Better Fireplaces would offer most value. If you operate a showroom business, in order to be able to give a complete and remarkable experience, maximise the value you offer, or in other words, fill-in that grey triangle, you must deliver on all parts of the customer’s problem. If you can only solve one aspect of the triangle ( i.e. we sell cheap electric fires) then you risk becoming a commodity where the customer sees you as exactly the same as everywhere else that sells the same or similar products, and in this scenario, the lowest price always win. This is not a healthy place to be for a business. 

At Upspark Digital we start off by working out what problems our clients have and how we can offer a complete and remarkable solution for them. We’re not concerned with competing on price because we know the value we offer and the outcomes we deliver.  This is what we love to work on for our clients too and this is where you should be.

We have developed the Unique Positioning canvas. The below first half of the canvas enables businesses to clearly identify their ‘best-fit’ customers, their problems and how best to solve them. It represents the different parts of the max value triangle and offers a step by step method to achieving this maximum value for both you and your customers.

In the below example, I have quickly filled it in from the point of view of Better Fireplaces to give you an indication of how it works. This exercise isn’t a complete representation of the business and I would expect you to go deeper than the below example for your business.

By looking at the top 3 sections of the canvas you can see how Lizzy and Steve were a great fit for Better Fireplaces. Lizzy and Steve’s behavioural attributes and problems align completely with what products and services Better Fireplaces can offer.

So how can you identify your best fit customers?

Firstly, I would suggest downloading and printing the canvas. You could just fill the answers in on a blank piece of paper but in my experience, it is better to have all the parts of the canvas positioned as above. This helps in visualising potential problems or changes you can make to the way your business is positioned in the market. All these components rely on each other, if one is mismatched then your business has a problem.

Warning! Don’t fall into the trap of listing what products and services you offer first. As you see above, this is step 3.

Start by listing what common features your best customers have in the Best Fit Customers column. The above examples should help in giving you inspiration. Next, list the most common problems this set of customers have. Don’t be lazy here, think deep. Customers always have more problems than the ones that are clear to you on the surface. For example, I wrote in the problems section above ‘Wants to touch/feel product’. This isn’t actually a problem. Reframing this as a problem can be hugely powerful. So what could the problem be?

Reframing ‘Want to touch/feel product’ as the actual customer problem

Examples:

  • I have trouble visualising products in my mind
  • I am scared I won’t like the look of the material or the way the flame looks
  • I want to understand the quality of the product
  • I don’t want to make the wrong purchase decision
  • I can’t use the internet very well

Now you can see how this is hugely powerful. Instead of talking to customers about the features of your products and services, we talk to them from the frame of solving these distinct problems.

In the below canvas I have replaced the more generalised description in Box 2 with more defined customer problems. Hopefully, you’ll see how this can completely change the language you use to talk to customers in person, on your website, in paper ads, in flyers, on social media etc.

In box 4 – We outline this language in the form of the solutions we deliver. We look at the problems we have identified in box 2 and use the products and services we sell (box 3) as the vehicle to deliver the solutions to these problems. The vehicle (box 3) itself is not the solution, this is where so many businesses go wrong. The products and services you offer aren’t solutions. They are vehicles that allow you to offer an outcome to a customer. It is this outcome people want, not the vehicle.

People don’t buy washing machines, they buy clean clothes

This simple mantra should help you to keep this important point in mind: People don’t buy washing machines, they buy clean clothes. When a customer goes looking for a washing machine, they don’t care about the number of spins a minute, the wattage etc.

They care about what outcomes the product/service can deliver to their problems:

What customers looking for a washing machine might care about

  • Is this washing machine going to clean my clothes better than the last one?
  • Is it energy efficient?
  • Is it going to be quieter than the last one?
  • My last machine took ages to complete a cycle, how long does this one take?

Why they care (Customer’s actual problems)

  • I have young children and their clothes get so dirty
  • My washing machine costs a lot in electricity
  • My washing machine is really noisy
  • I have a really busy life and I need a machine that helps me save time.

What are some of the outcomes a washing machine business could deliver?

The four outcomes for a remarkable experience:

To be able to deliver a full, complete and truly remarkable customer experience, a product or service usually has to fulfil the following four criteria:

  • Saves Customers Money
  • Saves the customer time
  • Relieves pain (emotional or physical)
  • Creates an emotional benefit

Using the washing machine example, a business could build a remarkable washing machine in the following way:

  • Saves our customers money: Uses less electricity, maintains the quality of your clothes for longer
  • Relieves pain: Silent operation relieves noise.
  • Saves time: A 15 minute cycle that cleans clothes and a high spin to make sure you can get back to your busy life sooner rather than later.
  • Creates an emotional benefit: Less stress due to speed and silent nature of appliance.

If we now apply this to Better Fireplaces’ canvas:

We can see how the outcomes we deliver can be very different to the vehicle (your products and services) you use to deliver them. Hopefully, you can also see how powerful these outcomes can be when used to attract your best fit customers through your branding and marketing.

No longer are you talking about selling a gas fire which every fireplace retailer can sell, your talking about how your business delivers more quality family time for your customers. If it came to the choice between the two I know who I would buy from. What do you think?

Leave a comment below and feel free to share.

P.S The second part of the canvas deals with how to create and clarify your value proposition to attract more of your target customers. Get in touch if you would like to know more or download it here. You can also read my blog post on creating or refining your value proposition here.

Cheers,

Chris

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