That key is to tailor your business to fit the needs of the customers you are seeking. Seems obvious enough but it’s not that easy to do.

Let’s look at a couple of examples. I want to try to overcome the objection that “this doesn’t apply to my business.” That expression comes up all the time. It does apply to your business. The less you believe it applies, the greater the likelihood your business is way off point.


This is one of the great paradoxes of business. The more clearly defined and restricted your ideal customer, the better your business will.

Remodeling Contractor

This is easy, right? You have a contractor’s license and you specialize in home remodeling. That’s your message. You’ll take any job, big or small. You always do great work. Simple. Come and get it.

So then, what is it about your business that would appeal to say, Bill Gates should he happen to need a kitchen remodel? Does your website look like your business is ready to design a kitchen that costs more than most people’s home? Do you have the tools to impress a client who wants the absolute finest design and craftsmanship? Do you have the taste to create a $2 million kitchen?

You do. Then what about me with my simple home that needs a little work. I’d like my kitchen modernized but my budget is very tight. From the looks of your website, your business is way out of my league.

If you get it right, really right, for one type of customer you’ll be really wrong for another. If you try to appeal to both by saying you do the best work at the cheapest price, you’ll lose both ends of the buying spectrum. Business owners get very frustrated over this because they think they “have covered all the bases” and still the leads don’t roll in. Answer? Cover more bases! Wrong.

Fine. But that doesn’t apply to my business.


So you have a restaurant. You’ve advertised specials, child friendly environment and elegant dining at a low price. What’s not to like? (I think you’re getting it)

You manufacture industrial components.

You pride yourself in the fine quality of your work. Every item your shop produces is checked and rechecked for quality. You will use only the best parts available. Your five man crew is also devoted to quality and you pay them to do great work.

GE is looking for a new supplier of heating elements for their dishwashers. They’ll need 30,000 units. Here’s a great opportunity for your business to go to the next level, right? Time to work on the proposal, get your hat in the ring. Probably not.

Ideal Customer

The hardest part of my job is getting clients to define their ideal customer. Tell me who you want to attract. Tell me what an ideal transaction looks like.

Usually, I have to figure it out myself by studying the business.

No Clem, your ideal customer isn’t the woman who wants ‘her place in Aspen’ remodeled and decorated for the fall entertaining season.

No Alice, your ‘child friendly’ restaurant isn’t the ideal venue to offer the finest French cuisine.

No Al, your shop cannot ‘ramp up’ from making 100 parts a month to 10,000 parts a month without major changes to every part of the operation. It doesn’t mean you hire a few more ‘bodies’ and buy a few more parts each month.

TeachU's Ideal Customer?Let’s clarify.

Can you, in a sentence, tell me who your ideal customer is? If not, you’re losing business. You think the big net catches more fish. But you’re not fishing. We’re talking about marketing. People won’t bite on dead fish.

If your message is mixed, it’s not believable. The cheapest (or lowest or whatever word you think works better) does not mix with the best. It just doesn’t. Quality and service cost money. Buyers know this.

Try the exercise. Write out a sentence that clearly defines your ideal customer based on the experience you have. Sure, we would all love for Warren Buffet to come to our business and place a billion dollar order and leave a very large tip.

I’d encourage you to do some research on Mr. Buffet. You’ll quickly learn that he doesn’t throw money around loosely. Maybe he’s not that ideal…

Chris Reich