A lot of people have been looking at my new business card and have been asking what a "perfect customer" is.  I figured I should take a moment to explain exactly what I mean and what the tag-line of my card and website, "Who is your perfect customer?" actually means.

In marketing, a lot of people just flood information channels with data about their products and various promotion events.  The problem is they trade off content for volume and saturate the market with one or two messages that are meant to touch millions of customers at once.  Market segmentation can help with this a little by directing the message towards a specific demographic or region.  This is still an ineffective strategy.

An example I use quite often is the rock climber and the kayaker.  Both frequent the same kinds of outdoors stores, but for very different reasons.  They are both looking for specific kinds of equipment and will tend to buy clothing and other accessories that are nearby or that bear similar brands.  An outdoors retailer wants the business of both customers, and puts out a new "The outdoors are cool!" advertising campaign.  It targets the region where both the climber and kayaker live, but in a broad fashion as to cover both customer's interests.

While both of these individuals go outside frequently and remain active, they do so for different reasons.  The climber perhaps uses rock gyms as a substitute for the mainline 24-Hour Fitness.  The kayaker probably goes out to the river every week because her favorite uncle was a rowing coach and she wants to live up to his image.  Both of these people go outside, but the broad "The outdoors are cool!" advertisement fails to touch on the forces driving either one.

Both of these customers are "perfect customers," though.  They are the customers who will go out of their way to bring friends and colleagues to visit the store.  They will promote the brand to strangers while they're out competing and recreating.  They are perfect in the sense that they are loyal and unofficial (unpaid) salesmen for the brand.  A company that can effectively communicate with their "perfect customer" will spend less money to achiee the same station in the market.

To identify your perfect customer, you need to understand more than geography and demographics.  Those are the "where" and the "who" of the marketing equation.  What's missing is the "why."  Why does he have a three-car garage when he only has two cars?  Why does she go rafting only with friends from high school and not friends from college?  The why tells you more about the customer and his or her attitudes towards your brand than where they live and what continent their ancestors are from.  This is called psychographics.

My question, "Who is your perfect customer?" is a challenge.  Are you marketing towards the fifteen year old who has bought piece of every one of your product lines or are you spending millions trying to generalize your message to his entire high school?  If you know the psychographics of your perfect customer then you can market to them for a handful of dollars and they will pass your message along for free to their friends and colleagues.

Sit back and evaluate your own marketing strategy.  If you can't name the person listening to your advertisements then you don't know your perfect customer.  My job is fixing that problem.  Ask yourself, who is your perfect customer?