Fine-Tune Your Business Plan’s Customer Profile - dummies

Fine-Tune Your Business Plan’s Customer Profile

By Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret, Barbara Findlay Schenck

When planning and directing your company’s business activities, customer knowledge equals business power. Knowing who your customers are and what they want is just another way you can get a leg up on the competition.

Consider the case of a new business specializing in online sales of lingerie. When the owners wrote their first-take customer profile, it read like this:

“We’re going after those seeking unique and high-quality intimate apparel but who avoid shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Our customers are women who buy our products for themselves or as gifts.”

Not long after writing this profile, the owners realized that this snapshot left out some crucial aspects. How is the customer likely to find the website in the first place? Why would she choose to buy here rather than somewhere else? What motivates her to buy — price, quality, or special inventory? Is she likely to be a repeat buyer? What convinces her to come back and shop again?

As the owners expanded their customer profile, here’s what they added:

“Most of our customers are 18 to 35 years old and are single or recently married. They live in urban areas, especially on the east and west coasts. They’re active online shoppers, and they tend to be affluent and sophisticated. They discover our site primarily through online searches and ads placed in women’s magazines and on selected websites.”

“When making buying decisions, they value quality — determined by the unique designs and fine materials used in our products — more than price. The bottom line: Our products make our customers feel beautiful. By delivering on this promise, we can develop a loyal clientele of repeat buyers.”

See the difference? The expanded description includes geographic and demographic characteristics — where customers live, their ages, and lifestyle information —plus information about what drives their buying decisions.

Based on the expanded customer description, the business owners were able to hone a sharp marketing strategy. First, they realized that their customers viewed lingerie purchases as a means to an end — to looking and feeling beautiful and sensual. Knowing this information helped the owners create attention-getting ads that converted to website traffic and online sales.

Second, their customer snapshot revealed that the company’s success relied on optimizing their search rankings and then developing loyal buyers who kept coming back on their own — and referring their friends, as well. This trend sparked the decision to add an online weekly health and beauty magazine featuring columns by cosmetologists, before-and-after stories, and an interactive Q&A discussion area.

Make the description of your customer part of your business plan. Doing so keeps your business and its marketing efforts focused and effective.