I had a chance last night to meet up with a whole bunch of great local coaches – all the way from those with decades of experience, to those who haven’t printed up business cards yet.


I got into a wonderful conversation that got me thinking about how people talk about their target customers.

When I ask people about who they want to sell to, the most common answers are:

  • “Anybody who wants to give me money”
  • “The people who really need my product or service”

The problem is that even though each of these statements is true, it doesn’t really help your marketing efforts very much.  If the only distinguishing fact about customers is that they need your product, then … all you can do is describe the general benefits of your product.  And if it’s only about people wanting to give you money, then just go start begging.  Don’t worry about a product at all.

It goes nowhere.

Of course, consultants will tell you that you need to target a demographic.  Typically this would mean your customers’ age, gender, physical location, and other general descriptors.  It’s a starting point, but rarely gets you to the point of explaining why a particular person would be motivated to buy what you’re selling.  But demographics are popular because they’re easy to measure and have been used since at least the 19th century.

What you really want to capture, though, is what makes a particular product or service compelling for a particular person.  By compelling, I mean that it causes them to want to make the purchase.

We’re talking about individuals and small groups here, not broad swaths of the population.

But you want to sell to thousands or millions of people, right?  How does this help?  Well, it causes you to communicate a very powerful and compelling message for that small group, which then influences larger groups of people.  You’re describing your ideal customer, both in characteristics, and in what motivates them to buy.

There will typically be a much broader range of similar target customers, who hear your message as well.  They won’t exactly be awestruck, perhaps, but they’ll be impressed with the power of your message.  Some of them will become customers, and like what you sell them.

Don’t be afraid to get specific.  It’s not about “throwing away” the other 98% of the population, it’s about creating a powerful message which really makes a difference.