Call them problems, struggles, pain points or needs. These are effectively the reasons why you’re in business. Identifying what type of problems the people you want to serve are experiencing is key to the success of your business. It’s probably one of the most important factors that will help you create a product or a service that meets the needs of the people you’re in business to help.
For example, if your Pilates classes are aimed at mums with primary-school-aged children, don’t go running your classes a 4 pm. No one will come! Try 9:30 am after the school run, and you may sell out. Why? Because in this example your ideal customer (a mum with children at school) wants to have the option to do some exercise after dropping her children off in the morning, so that, once the class is over, she can head home and work or take care of the other million things mums need to do. Or head off to the office. But how do you find out what your customers’ pain points are? How do you know what problems they are looking for solutions to?
1. Do some market research
If you’re just starting out or haven’t yet spent a huge amount of time identifying your target customers yet, it may be hard to know how you can help by offering the services that meet your clients’ needs. So spend some time working out who your ideal customers may be and see if you can ask them some questions. You may find them hanging out in local Facebook groups or Mum and Toddler groups, or even at the school gates. Most people, if approached with genuine interest and not in a spammy or salesy way, will be happy to help. Or if you have the budget, why not hire a market research agency and try to obtain some qualitative or quantitative data on your target audience?
2. Analyse your competitors and look for opportunities
Another useful tool to use, especially if you don’t have a large customer base yet is to look at the local competition in your industry or niche. For example, let’s say you’ve just qualified as a mindfulness meditation practitioner. Before you start working on your offering, you’ll want to do some research to find out what’s needed. So look for existing services in your area and make a note of the following:
- What other classes exist in your town?
- What type of people attend these classes?
- Is it mainly mums? Young adults? Pensioners?
If your analysis shows that a particular target audience seems happy with the classes offered by an existing provider, how can you serve a different audience, for example? Does your target audience have similar needs? Or are they completely different? The format and time of the classes your competitor runs could give you a lot of information about the problems they’re solving. If they’re not very busy, maybe they haven’t identified their customers’ pain points correctly. Can you? Can you spot any weaknesses in their business model that you may be able to turn into an opportunity for your own business?
3. Ask your existing customers what they are struggling with
If your business is already established and you already have clients, you’re sitting on a pot of gold. Asking your existing customers what they’re struggling with at the moment is the most obvious way to dig deep into their needs. Ask them if you can have a minute with them at the end of a class or a private consultation and invite them to provide you with some feedback.
- What did they love about the class or the appointment with you?
- What would they like to see more of?
- Or what would they like you to start doing or offering?
If you don’t want to ask them in person, or if you think you may get more valuable and honest feedback in written form, ask them to fill in a quick feedback form for you, or consider setting up an anonymous survey with a free online tool like Survey Monkey.
If you have an online presence on social media, create a poll on Facebook or Instagram and ask your existing customers a specific question about the services you offer. The insight you receive back may even give you ideas that help you come up with a new type of session or class, and that could bring additional revenue into your business!
4. Study your customers’ behaviours
You can get some great data from your customers’ behaviours. For example, if you work as a personal trainer, you may have noticed trends or seasonal peaks. People tend to hire a PT after Christmas (we all know why) or before or after the summer, for example. You don’t need your customers to spell it out for you – based on experience, you’ll know why this is. Maybe their weight or the way they feel and look has become an issue to them because they’ve not been eating too healthily (festive season anyone?). Not to mention that when we start thinking about how our bodies will look in summer clothes (or the dreaded bikini), or when we’ve just returned from a holiday, we often feel in need of a change.
If these are some of the motivators that drive people to book your classes, the explore them even further. Observe how people behave. Make a note of the language they use when they first get in touch with you to make an enquiry, for example. What do they say? What is really going on for them? And what does their behaviour tell you? Can you get behind it and identify the reasons why they may have gone out to seek your help at this point in time?
You can use this information to shape your sessions, but you should also keep it in the forefront of your mind when you create content for your social media channels or your marketing materials. The insight you gather will help you connect to your ideal client. They’ll know you’re talking to them. Because they’ll see that you ‘speak their language’ and fully understand what they’re going through.
5. Use your online data to identify warm leads
Does your business have an online presence? In other words, do you have a website, send out a regular newsletter, and engage with your existing and potential customers on social media? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you’re sitting on a huge amount of data about your customers. Through tools like Google Analytics or by looking at the stats of your own email service provider you can see who’s reading your emails and engaging with your content. You can start to get a better idea of who you’re attracting online and why. The people who respond to your newsletters or comment on your social media posts are your warm leads or prospects. People who haven’t bought from you yet, but they may well do at some point in the future. What type of people are they? What are their needs right now?
Instead of guessing, try sending them a private Facebook message and ask them how you can help. Reply back to their emails and ask them what they’re struggling with right now. If you can see that they often open your newsletter but never buy, run a targeted campaign to those people and offer them a small discount in exchange for 10 minutes of their time where they jump on a Skype or Zoom call with you. Find out a bit more about what they need help with and see if you can come up with the perfect offer that will win them over as paying customers.
6. Constantly revise and refine your ideal client’s persona
The information you find out from your prospects or your existing customers should always inform and refine your ideal client’s persona – the customer that your services help and serve. It’s not only understandable that your client’s persona or avatar changes as your business develops and grows, but it’s also recommended. If you’re not meeting the targets you set for yourself and your business, chances are you’re experiencing a disconnect between the ideal client you’re targeting and the services you offer.
If you’re an osteopath who specialises in cranial osteopathy and works predominantly with newborn babies, then your ideal client’s persona must be a parent who is looking for an alternative and non-medicalised help with a difficult delivery or a baby displaying excessive crying. There’s no reason why you’d make a lovely pensioner named John your ideal client avatar. But there are hundreds of good reasons why you’d want to find out more about the couple who brings your next little patient in the clinic. Use that insight to improve your persona.
Marketing services for health and wellbeing professionals
If you find all this talk about ideal customer’s persona and getting under their skin by understanding their needs and struggles slightly confusing, get in touch. I work with health and wellbeing professionals just like you and offer a range of marketing and media services that can really help you to identify your ideal customer’s persona and get a deeper understanding of the needs and pain points that your prospective and existing customers are experiencing.