everyone-is-not-your-customerI often get asked: where do I begin when I want to start a business?

Now… I’m going to say it… As a marketing professional by trade, I’m possibly going to get crucified for this but branding is simply NOT the place to start!

Everything in business starts with your target audience.

From day one, target audience must be top of mind for you in every decision you make for products, branding, your website, your business cards and your packaging.

Ultimately your target audience is king (or queen). It’s who we are talking to, very very specifically when we are creating anything to do with our business.

You need to be so clear and so specific with your audience that they feel you understand their problem so well, that are speaking directly to them, when providing the solution to their problem. As, ultimately, everyone in business is, ultimately, providing a solution to a problem.

Knowing your target audience takes you FROM anonymous to intimate and this feeling of intimacy means your messaging will have greater cut-through and be more effective.

For example, think about those terrible 5 Cougars, thanks, ads. CLEARLY aimed at men. Absolutely nailed the target audience so specifically that women weren’t even considered. Now think about the Panadol and Nurofen for Children ads, where the mum talks about how awful it was when Sonny got his first fever and she didn’t know what to do, bingo, solution to a problem. the copywriter in the advert understood the problem for the mum and clearly articulated the solution, while tugging on a few heart strings along the way.

Although it sounds cliche, it’s marketing 101 and when you watch TV ads take notice of who you think the target audience is. Pensioner’s Insurance? Those terrible mobile phone games? Speak the language your audience wants to hear and you will be effective in your communication.

So, I often talk about who is your best customer.

So, who is your best customer? Not the most loyal, or the most regular and certainly not the one who bends your ear for 20 minutes only to leave after buying from the bargain bin; or (in my core business of website design) the one who demands full artistic control and myriad changes on a small, one-off job only to ask for a discount!

Your best customer is the one who represents the highest value for the lowest effort. It’s the very basic tenet of marketing: return on investment (ROI). Basically it’s about getting more bang for your buck.

Your best customer will also be aligned with your values and your vision for your business, you will be happy to serve them.

While you can make your money with lots of small sales; regular, high value sales are the ones will keep you busy and make you money.

Your best customer who repeatedly buys high value goods/services, is low maintenance and recommends you to their friends!

Think about who your ideal customer is, how old they are, what they do, where they live, etc. Be really specific about the demographics. Also have a think about what they do with their spare time, where they shop, where they hang out online and all the touch points where they could potentially interact with your brand.

You may have heard of the Pareto Principle? The Pareto Principle is exquisitely simple and will transform the way you think about your audience:

It is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who, in 1906, found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

What was most important about Pareto’s finding was that this 80/20 distribution occurs frequently. For example, in general, 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales, further to this, 20% of your time produces 80% of your results. How amazing is that?

The Pareto Principle, or “80/20 Rule” as it is generally called today, is an incredible tool when planning your business.

For instance, if you can figure out which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ results, you can spend more time on those activities and less time on others.

By identifying the people who represent the top 20% of your customers (and therefore represent 80% of your sales), you can find more customers like them and dramatically grow your business.

So before you even think about branding, investigate your target audience rigorously and how to find that core 20%.

Once you have found them, then and only then, move on to pretty colours, fonts and vision boards which I will talk about in my next post. Be sure to subscribe for updates.