Nicole Öhlmann | The 3 Things Your Clients Expect You to Know About Them
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The 3 Things Your Clients Expect You to Know About Them

Many large companies put a lot effort and money in developing an image of their target audience. But what do you do, if you aren’t a large company with seemingly unlimited budgets? You leave this topic out completely?! No, of course not! You focus on the essentials.

In 2015, I did some research, surveying a little more than 100 small businesses from the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, South Africa, USA and Italy. Almost 80% of participating companies reported that they have at least little or even extensive information about their target audience.


That was much more than I had expected. However, as I examined this topic more in depth, things were a little different than they seemed. But before I come to that, I explain you the three things you need to know about your target audience, or as I prefer to call it: your ideal client. Because that is what you want: A clear picture of the person that is willing and able to pay for your product or service.

1. Which problem(s) to you solve for them?

In order to succeed you need to know the problem or need of your ideal client and how your product or service can address that problem or need. So rather than focusing on the features, you need to stress the benefits that solve your (potential) customers’ problem.

2. What are their demographics attributes?

Demographic attributes strongly depend on the kind of products or services you are offering, so if it is working business-to-business or business to con­sumer. For the latter, information as age, location, gender, income lever, educa­tion level, marital or family status, occupation and ethnic background are of inter­est. Companies that offer products or services to other businesses need to focus on attributes like company size (amount of employees), turnover, location or industry.

Demographic data is crucial in order to narrow down the target audience and its location, but also helps to draw conclu­sion about appropriate communication and pricing.

3. What do they believe in? Why do they buy?

While demographics explain, “who” potential customers are. Psychographics say something about “why” they are buying certain products. This also includes motiva­tions and life-style.

Simon Sinek goes into depth into this topic in his TED talk How great leaders inspire action. During his talk he explains his model for inspirational leadership, which he developed after looking at inspirational organizations and people like Apple, M.L. King and the Wright brothers.

According to Simon Sinek, inspirational leaders think, act and communicate in the same way. The model he developed is called “The Golden Circle”. The circle consists of three layers, which resemble from the inside to the outside the “Why”, “How” and “What”.


Most organizations communicate from the outside to the in­side. They explain what they are doing and how they are doing it. Inspired (suc­cessful) organizations, regardless of their size and budget, communicate from the inside to the outside. The ‘why’ is not about money, as profits cannot the reason, but will be a result of a valuable product or service. Inspirational companies or leaders focus their com­munication on “why their organization exists” and “why anyone should care”.

How does this relate to your target audience or ideal client? Simon Sinek says: “People don’t by what you do, people buy why you do it.” If you are really honest, there is probably not much difference between your products or services and those of your competitors. However, you can make that difference by communicating why you choose to offer these product or service.

If you like to know more about it, watch Simon Sineks TED talk below:


What small business really know about their target audience


Four in five small companies that reported that they have information about their target audience, know about the problem of their ideal client. Demographical statistics are available to almost a quarter and 37.3% state that they are aware of the psychographic characteristics of their target audience.








How you can collect information about your target audience?


However, how some companies collected the information was quite surprising. Most (62.7%) small businesses draw conclusions by thinking about it. This is not particularly wrong and usually a great starting point, but about 10% of the participants, that stated that they have extensive knowledge about their target audience confirmed that thinking about it was their only source of information (not good if you ask me!).

Luckily, this was only a small portion of participating business. 59.3% looked at available information of their existing customer base and 45.8% asked their existing customer base. 33.9% of the respondents used Google for research and only 5.1% paid an agency


researchtargetaudience3Not knowing, who your ideal client is, is similar to shooting in the dark. If you don’t know where you need to aim, you will waste a lot of resources (money, time and effort).

Collecting the information about your target audience can be done by businesses with even small budgets. Here are the most popular approaches to do this:

1. Brainstorming sessions

Get together with your coworkers or someone that knows your company very well. Think of your ideal client, the one client you would like to have at least a hundred. Picture this person and write down their problem, psychographics and demographics.

2. Doing interviews with existing clients

Pick two or three of your most favorite clients and ask them if your can do an interview with them. During this interview, ask them why they choose for your product, which problems it solves for them and interview them about their demographic data like age, location, marital status, education, etc.

3. Analyzing the existing database

If you collected already information about your customers in a database, make sure to analyze them so that the information makes sense. Work with graphics and pie charts so that you and your coworkers can use the data.

4. Executing a survey

Executing an (online) survey is fairly easy, lots of fun and can bring you so many valuable insights. There are lots of tools online you can use to set up a survey in less than an hour. One of my favorite tools is Survey Gizmo. They have an outstanding customer service and their basic plan is free.

In order to receive the best insight of your target audience, I advised you to use a mixture of several approaches. This way data that is available in- and outside of your company can be combined and will bring you the most value.

Do you know who your ideal client is? If you are a little stucked follow my free session (Re)Discover Your Why where you learn to find your ideal client, but also how to can communicate the essence of your business.

I am curious! What do you know about your ideal client? Any idea why he or she choose your product or service? Which problem solves your business for them? Do you know anything about their age, education level and income? Let me know in the comment box below.

Nicole Öhlmann

I believe that the future belongs to purpose-driven and responsible companies. I want to help people that are crazy enough to think they can change their community or even the world. I want to help organizations that help people to life more happy, healthy and responsibly. More than 13 years of experience in the field of graphic design, website development and online communication put me in place to help those, who help others by connecting them to their (potential) clients.

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