The three customer types you need to know

Instead of trying to sell to EVERYONE, think about simplifying your marketing messages to these three customer types. We’re not talking target markets, segmentation, or buyer personas. We’re talking broad strokes.

Customers who already buy from you.

That’s right, you need to keep on communicating and marketing to your existing customers. You may have heard the phrase “It’s easier to keep a customer than to get a new one.” Well, it’s not only easier, it’s cheaper too.

Here’s the thing: your competition is constantly trying to steal your market share away from you. They may be directly targeting your customers, or they might be more broadly targeting customer profiles that happen to include them. The truth is, your customers need help making the decision to keep buying from you. They need to feel connected and like your product or service is a better value for them.

Depending on what you sell, your existing clients may return to purchase from you regularly or they may just make one-time buys. What can you do to leverage that relationship and get them to buy additional products or services that they need?

Customers who buy a similar product or service from your competitors.

Now that you have a firm grasp on your own customers, it’s time to start thinking about getting some to switch from a competitor.

Here’s why: you know they want something you’re selling, and that they are already willing to pay for it.

Getting customers to switch can be tricky. You have to position your own product or service to be superior enough that they are willing to go through any pain or hassle involved in switching.

This means you have to understand what they currently believe about your business and your competitor. You need to understand and address any reservations they may have.

Potential customers who aren’t buying yet.

These are the people who have a pain that you can solve but haven’t taken the leap to buying from you yet. Generally, we call them leads. It’s important to remember that this is a specific group of people. We’re still not marketing to EVERYONE.

There is a specific process that people go through in making a purchase decision, so you may need to develop messages for people throughout this process:

  1. Needs recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluations of alternatives
  4. Purchasing
  5. Post-purchase behaviours

Identify what you can do to help them through each of the stages.

Apply your customer avatars and target market segmentations to the three customer types.

If you’ve already defined your customers through creating an ideal customer profile or segmenting with demographics, you can sort those groups into one of the three customer types to decide what you need to say to those customers.

Who will pay for your services?

You have an idea for an amaaaaazing service, and you have figured out your secret sauce. Now you need to know who would be interested in it and if there are enough people able to pay to make your new service profitable. You’ve gotta figure out EXACTLY who your dream clients are – the ones who want what you got and are willing to pay for it.

Sometimes you will have started with an audience in mind, and created a service that they asked for. That’s seriously great! You’re still going to want to think deeper about what motivates them to buy, and to think about secondary audiences that might be interested in it too. But sometimes, you have an idea and you’re just not sure who needs it. So this is where you start – you think about what problem your new service will solve. The problem might actually be seemingly unrelated from your service on the surface, but your service might be a solution that helps them solve it.

Let’s take a window cleaning business for example. On the surface, a window cleaner solves the problem of cleaning a dirty window. But we need to go a lot deeper than that. Window cleaners can easily narrow down their target market by deciding if they want to work for businesses (commercial window cleaning service) or if they want to work on homes (residential window cleaning service), and each market has a different set of problems they are looking to solve aside from dirty windows.

For a commercial window service, your client may fit into any of the categories below:

Customer-facing businesses

Businesses may need their windows professionally cleaned so that their store or office looks cared for. They don’t want to deter potential clients or customers from walking in their doors. They will likely need your service on a regular schedule, so you gain some consistency in your income. However, if you target retail clients they may be mostly smaller jobs (e.g. one storefront window) so you would need a large number of clients to make money. They may have dirty windows, but their real problem is getting more bodies through the door to sell their stuff.

High-traffic locations

They are located in higher-traffic public locations, which means they have more dirt, grime, and fingerprints to deal with than a typical home. Although their windows are within reach (thus the fingerprints), they just don’t have the time to keep up with it and might look to hire you as part of a regular cleaning service. If this is the work you are looking for, you may be contacting business owners directly or you might be better off networking with existing janitorial services to team up as a subcontractor. Their pain point is that they constantly have disgustingly dirty windows and no time to keep up with them.

Owner peace of mind

Psychologically, the owner may just like their windows to be spotless because it makes them feel like a boss. They take great pride in their business and are willing to pay for exceptional service. You might look for businesses with a great reputation, impeccable landscaping, and high-end furnishings. With these clients, you would need to present yourself professionally and explain why your window-cleaning technique is superior to your competition and how your professionalism will mean they get the type of service they are looking for. For these businesses, the owner needs to feel in control over the many aspects of their business to consider themselves successful.

Lack of tools and skills

The building may be much larger than a house or the windows more difficult to reach, so it may be a lack of tools and skill that causes them to hire a service provider. In this case, you may be cleaning windows, but you are also making it so that they don’t have to go out and buy specialized equipment or figure out how to operate it. Really, you’re helping these businesses solve a logistical problem – how do I get up there safely, how much time will it take, and how much will it cost?

Insurance issues

There may be insurance issues with trying to DIY their windows or having their staff clean them. Their windows need to be cleaned and they theoretically could have someone on staff do it, but your service is actually saving them a bundle on hiring and insuring someone for the task of cleaning windows. In this case, it’s actually a regulatory problem you are helping them with.

Cost effectiveness

It may simply be cheaper to pay for the service than to lose the hours of productivity for their staff. It’s not just the hourly rate they may pay their staff to get the job done they are thinking about, but the money that those workers could be making the business if they were doing what they were hired for. In this case, your service is simply cheaper than the lost revenue from having their skilled staff perform the task.

Commercial-residential situations

The business you serve may be a retirement care home or rental development who are looking to avoid complaints from their tenants, and who need to be consistently clean to attract new residents. In this case, having clean windows may be directly related to sales unlike with retail where it is a step in the sales process.

Your ideal clients may have a combination of a few of the problems you’ve come up with. Now that you have a good idea of the problems your service could help to solve, it’s time to draw some lines about the types of clients you don’t want to work with.

For example, you may not have the skills or the tools to handle high rise buildings, so write down that you only want to work on buildings that are three stories or less. And with those commercial-residential buildings, you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of small-talk if you are doing interior windows, so you need to decide if that is something you are OK with and how to charge so that extra time is covered in your price. Other considerations may be the time of day that you’re expected to work, how much set-up and take-down is involved, or the amount of travel you’re willing to consider.

For a residential window service, your potential customers will have a different set of needs or problems they are looking to solve:

Little spare time

If a homeowner has very little spare time after work and other commitments, they don’t want to spend their entire weekend washing their windows when they can hire a professional to do it in a matter of hours. In this case, you’re giving the homeowner back their leisure time.

Home value

If someone is selling or renting their home, clean windows will help play into the buyer’s decision to purchase and even the price they are willing to pay without them realizing it’s your sparkling windows that are doing the trick. In this case, you might want to get to know some local realtors and property managers to help them close the deal faster.

Restricted view

If someone has purchased a home with a view, they did so for a reason and likely paid a little extra for that view of the lake or picturesque landscaping in the backyard. Their problem is that they now can’t see as clearly something they already paid for, so they need someone to do the upkeep for them.

Keeping up with the Jones’

If most of the houses on Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s block have professionally cleaned windows, the Smith’s may feel the need to have their windows cleaned too. Don’t discount the need for people to feel accepted in their social circle.

Again, actually writing down what you will and will not deal with for your customers is key to creating a profile for your ideal clients.

These are all just examples of the types of problems a window cleaning service might help their clients solve. How many problems can you come up with for your service? What types of problems are they, and how much of an impact do they have on the customer?

Something to think long and hard about – is the reason someone is buying your service an investment? In other words, will they get something valuable (money/time/memories) back from hiring you? Can you actually write down on paper the steps that lead to that person getting a return on their investment (e.g. customers walks up to a restaurant, see dirty windows, assume kitchen is also dirty and walk away) so that you are able to see very clearly how much of a return the client is getting?

The biggest trick to defining your target market is looking for people who have a problem and are willing to pay someone to solve it. At this point, the problems that you have come up with are hypothetical. Next, you need to do some research on whether there are enough clients with these problems for you to reach. Then you have to figure out how they are currently solving that problem.