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Most companies try to be all things to all customers, even as they push their customers into defining their brand, emphasizing their points of differentiation, and developing a strong point of view. 

They know that defining what your brand is -- and more importantly -- what it is not -- is essential for building brand awareness and equity. 

But they often fail to do this for themselves. 

One of the steps in understanding and living your company's positioning is to define your ideal customer profile. By creating this document, you can create more targeted marketing materials, prospect for new customers in a purposeful way, and better serve the customers who are the best fit for your companh. 

However, there are a few mistakes you should carefully avoid when creating these profiles. 

5 Common Mistakes Made When Creating an Ideal Customer Profile

1) Creating a “Wish” Customer

An customer client needs to be firmly based on your current “best” customers. You can wish that your ideal customer spent $10 million per year, but unless that is truly reflective of who is actually using your services, you should leave it out.

If your positioning is strong, you should be attracting customers who fit with your specialty, services, style of delivery, cost, and culture. If you don’t have those customers yet, you may want to reconsider your services, your processes, how you market your company, and how you hire -- all in order to bring your positioning strategy to life.

2) Limiting Your Ideal Customer

It can be easy to want your ideal customer to resemble an actual client. 

That’s not the point though. The ideal customer profile should be a broad description of your ideal customer base while also limiting the world from anyone who needs any type of service you offer. 

The profile should more accurately reflect the attitudes, behaviors, motivators, and preferences of a collection of individuals, rather than be a true-to-life snapshot of the one person you would like to work with.

Try starting with one profile, and as you grow and segment the business, add additional profiles. 

3) Creating Too Many Personas

Your customers are more alike than you think. They have similar problems, they are measured on the same core metrics, they makes decisions in a similar way, and they have the same objections. 

You want to be specific and detailed, but some differentiators are simply trivial. If you can’t easily name your personas and outline key details for each one, you might have invited to many people to the persona party.

4) Claiming That You Are the Hero 

The problem your company is trying to solve is complicated. Organizations are complicated. Change is very complicated. Oftentimes, your firm will be up against some ingrained ideas and 20-year-old processes that can make it difficult to take risks, try out new things, or even just execute on simple tactics. 

You can’t fix everything. Most likely the services you provide for your customers can only go so far, especially if they have objections to implementing new processes or if the client's marketing and sales team are misaligned.

When creating your ideal client profile, be sure to identify only the specific pain points that your firm solve's for. These should be targeted solutions that prove the high value of your firm.

5) Relying on Your Team to Define Your Ideal Customer

Your sales development reps, account managers, strategists, and consultants are talking to your customers every day, so they must know them the best. Interview your team, and use these anecdotal stories to create your ideal customer profile.

While you should talk with your team and gather insight from them, you also need to mine the data and conduct formal interviews with current and past customers to understand what their buying process looked like. People can become biased over time, and by simply asking your team for information, you are including perceptions formed during a relationship in your profile.

You can collect some of this information through landing page forms and onboarding documents, which could help cut down on the amount of time needed to conduct the interviews.

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Originally published Sep 5, 2015 8:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

Topics:

Sales Strategy