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3 Steps to Identifying Your Key Customer. Advice for Writers, Entrepreneurs, or Everyone?

Creative Independence by Nattu via Flickr

Who is your target customer?  Its a question I hear as a new writer, and one I often asked in business settings.   It’s a fundamental question about people, that touches and issues of focus, values, and priorities.  I asked marketing guru Dan Janal to write a guest post on the subject.  

When I coach my clients, and I ask them who their key customer is.  They usually say, “Everyone.”

That’s because they honestly believe that their message can help everyone.  And it probably can.

The trouble is, the market doesn’t like solutions that appeal to the masses. Today, people want their own customized solution, or at least someone who is an expert in their industry.  The key to winning that business is to focus on the prospects who are your best fit.

Here are three questions I ask my coaching clients to explore so they can find their best prospects and their idea customer.

Question 1. Who do you like to work with?

Yes, it is all about you. Why shouldn’t you work with people you want to work with?  Why not find people who get you and understand you, people you like and understand?  What could be worse than dealing with a person who is the epitome of everything you hate? If you are going to work independently, you find someone you like to work with.  If not, you might as well get a job.

Question 2. Who are the people who like to work with you?

Let’s face it. We’re not a perfect fit for everyone. Some people don’t like the fact you won’t work past 6 p.m. at night, won’t take business calls on weekends and won’t cut your rates to rock bottom just because they asked. Who needs them? I’m sure you can find lots of other attributes you hate in clients (i.e. Type A personalities, people who can’t make decisions, people who don’t pay their bills on time, people who see the negative in everything, people who don’t praise your work. You get the idea.) Who needs them? Life is too short to work with jerks.

Question 3. Can they afford to pay you?

Just because you can help everyone in the world doesn’t mean you have to help everyone in the world. Some people will not want to pay your full fee or can’t afford to hire you. Your skill set might help the people just out of college just as well as it helps the vice president who wants to move into the president’s office. Who has more money to pay you? Unless your passion is to help people just out of college, go for the gold.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help the college student if that’s where your heart is. In fact, if you follow your heart, you’ll feel fulfilled, which might be better than money.

Helping people who want you to help them and get paid a fair wage  – Isn’t that what running your business is all about?

Dan Janal coaches authors, speakers, consultants and small businesses who want to become thought leaders and the obvious choice.  For info on his service, go to