Do you recognize your ideal customer when you see them? What do you use to qualify them?
In a recent LinkedIn article by Rita McGrath, she referenced a framework by Steve Blank that I believe is really helpful to identify your ideal customer. Especially, when your product is not a commodity and sell through relationship building.
Who are the best customers to build those relationships with?
For those of you who don’t know Steve Blank, he’s one of the original thought leaders in lean startup development. Rita takes the reference from his 2005 book The Four Steps to the Epiphany.
It’s funny how truisms do remain true over time. It continues to be good advice.
Steve Blank identifies a Startup’s early evangelist customers – those committed to the vision – as having the following characteristics.
- Has a problem.
- Is aware that they have a problem.
- Has been actively looking for a solution.
- Has put together a not-so-great solution out of piece parts.
- And has or can acquire a budget.
I internally chuckled being reminded of my days when working for vendors, I managed technology change projects where the customer fit this profile. The technology change often was to replace a cobbled together system with our more reliable robust platform. Rarely was it a fresh implementation. But that is another story.
Today, I see this list as a qualification funnel for identifying your ideal customer.
Sure, everyone says to focus your marketing and sales on customer problems and how you solve them.
And yes, if you cast your net wide enough you are likely to find customers who opt-in if you just do that. But that can take time and resources we don’t always have.
Instead consider creating content that speaks to this funnel.
Yes, you can build awareness for the problem – but look for a that’s right affirmation that people get what you are talking about.
Ask questions to reveal what people are doing today, instead of your product. Then talk about what you would be replacing.
Find out if they have the budget. Are they both willing and able to spend on your product. So often these days people give away things for free to people to an audience that never buys. It’s important to also test for the ability to purchase.
It doesn’t mean that all your customers will have all these characteristics. Yet, if you put your focus on finding the ideal customer, then others may come along as well. It’s a natural positive side effect to targeting.
What do you think? Does this change how you look at your funnel?