How to Profile Your Customer in 10 Words or Less

Posted on by Ivana S. Taylor

This post is part of a “Blog Carnival” that’s being hosted by Tea Silvestre from The Word Chef Blog.  The theme of the carnival is “Building Business Relationships” it’s part of a series of posts on the subject from a variety of small business experts.

I can’t believe I’m going to write another article on market segments or target markets.  But I HAVE to because I just noticed that most of us aren’t getting it right.

I was reading a business book just now that referenced Wal-Mart’s original target market as “People living paycheck to paycheck.”  This isn’t a very complicated thing.  That’s what makes it so powerful.

It’s only five words!  And yet, there is something so real, so visual, so emotional, so visceral about those five words.  You already have an immediate sense of who these people are, what they want for their family and for themselves.  What their daily habits, challenges and delights might be.

The Challenge

The challenge for many of us seems to be in profiling our customers in these simple terms.  Sometimes I wonder if our default to fancy demographic language “Men between the ages of 35 and 45 who wear glasses” makes us THINK that we are being more precise when we are actually being entirely too vague.

Another obstacle or challenge is that you might think you have to get to that simple, single sentence profile the first time around.  maybe you will.  Maybe this article will be enough to have the profile just pop right out.  But maybe it won’t.  You might have to do some “noodling” or thinking about this.  You might — heaven forbid – have to spend a few minutes, hours, days or months actually thinking about your customer and what their life might be like as it surrounds your product or service.

Embrace the Exercise

I say embrace the exercise.  Decide to be CURIOUS about who your customer really is and what their life is like.  Simply decide to pay attention, spend time with them and actually observe what’s going on there.  Give yourself the freedom to notice the little things about who they are outside their interaction with your product.  You will be amazed at what you discover.

Your Ideal Customer Profile Checklist

Here’s a quick how-to list that will get you started.  This is by no means the best method to do this.  I haven’t included every possible question and I don’t claim that this will give you the profile you’re seeking.  But it will certainly get your brain started in the right direction.

  1. Pull together a list of about 10 of your ideal, most favorite customers and people you LOVE to work with.
  2. If you are friendly enough with them AND they are on Facebook – become their friend and simply watch their profile activity.  This is a less intrusive way to get to know them and you will get to see simple things like what sports teams they like, where they are from, what they like to do with their family.
  3. Assuming you’re NOT friendly with them – become a little more friendly with them – take the time to ask more personal questions about what their life is like.  Do they like to read, cook, travel, etc.
  4. You have to build a personal rapport with someone before they actually tell you the truth about what they want or expect from your product or service.  And more importantly, you want them to describe their life as it surrounds their interaction with your product or service.  That isn’t going to happen until you have a good enough relationship for them to share the juicy stuff.
  5. Get into their daily routine.  Get into the daily world of your customer from the time they get up to the time they go to bed.  What might they be thinking, what might they be worrying about?

Remember, for Wal-Mart to get to the fact that their target market is “living paycheck to paycheck” they would have to know some personal things about them.  They might know that their pre-teen daughter loves Miley Cyrus but they can’t afford concert tickets so they get products with Hannah Montana stuff on it.

Tell me about how you’ve been profiling your customers.  Got any tips or tricks to share?

This post is part of the The Word Chef Blog Blog Carnival hosted by Tea Silvestre.   Join us for a fun and informative 1-hour Tweet Chat about Finding your Ideal Customer, Thursday, September 29 7pm Eastern / 4 pm Pacific. #WordCarnival

Name: Ivana S. Taylor



About: Ivana Taylor is the publisher of – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. You can find her on Twitter as @DIYMarketers.

  • Ryan Mettee

    Nailing your target customer profile is something that many people generalize because they are unconsciously incompetent of the value having a clearly define ideal client/customer/patient profile can bring.

    Getting laser-focused on the demographics, psychographics, and decision process of your target customer provides the following benefits:

    1. Helps provide clarity on how to differentiate your business from the 800-pound guerrilla or local competition

    2. Decreases cost of acquisition of customer because you’re able to devise a hyper-targeted marketing approach that yields better results

    3. Decreases sales objections, which decreases sales process length

    4. Provides increase brand awareness through referral… birds of the same feather flock together (and hang out, shop together, have dinner parties together, have coffee together, etc.)

    5. Increases sales conversion percentage because your product and service offerings align with the wants, needs, and required solutions of your customers

    -Ryan Mettee

  • Maegan

    Client Profiling is important in increasing sales. It would be a waste of time running after prospects who has no use of your services.

  • Tea Silvestre

    These are great specific suggestions for folks who are trying to figure out who their ideal customers really are. Will be sharing this with my class! Thanks, Ivana.

  • Anonymous

    Ivana noodling and listening are crucial for a small business owner or start-up.  When I launched my company I had a description more like the male age 35 to 44 example above.  As I brought in clients I solicited feedback, why did they pick me?  What did I do for them.  In the end I became The Numbers Whisperer – Helping micro biz owners overcome their fear of finance and grow their profits.

  • Annie Sisk

    Good suggestions, Ivana! The most important part of the “ideal client” exercise is figuring out where they hang out, ’cause there’s no sense in putting all your social media time in on Twitter when your ICs are hangin’ out on LinkedIn.

  • Eugene Farber

    Ivana, these was awesome! Actual actionable advice that anyone can accomplish (it’s not that hard to get a Facebook account if you don’t already have one). Good stuff!

  • Sharon Hurley Hall

    I love the idea of keeping it short – like a logline for your preferred customer. I once did an exercise where I tried to describe my services in less than 10 words – that was challenging and instructive. Great idea, Ivana.

  • Anonymous

    Really enjoyed your suggestions…I love being curious about who are customer really is…I stay curious!  

  • Sandy

    That is a challenge indeed, to create a slogan that conjures up an instant illustration of exactly who your client is.  Ambitious small business owner?  Does that do the trick?  This has really got me thinking Ivana.  Ambitious is intended to convey that they want to grow so they are prepared to spend money.  But does it?  And are they?  That too can be a filter.

  • Clare Price

    Great tips in the Customer Profile Checklist. Get into their worlds is very powerful! And I would add taht we also need to get into their hearts and passions to create a lasting relationship. 

  • Stella | Get More Buyers

    Hi Ivana:

    First, I must let you know that I love that photo (with tags), illustrating a profile and avatar of an ideal client. It brings the point alive.

    I like the unobtrusive approach you suggested to “notice the little things about who they are outside their interaction with your product”.

  • Nick Armstrong


    You’ve addressed an important point here. The most reticent example that comes to mind: Playboy. They started posting content at 3 AM and saw their engagement stats skyrocket. I’ll leave you to figure out why… but you’ve got the level of detail right – if you know everything, right down to when they go to bed (or… uh, not…) then you’ve got a really powerful marketing advantage over the folks who just push and pray.

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