Who Is Your Ideal Prospect?


This is an important question for marketers, and most business people. For your advertising and marketing to be truly effective, you’d better know the answer. Right?

The question itself is one I ask during my creative call with any new client. What is your ideal prospect’s age? Income level? Gender? Education? These easier questions often lead to harder ones, like, “What do they need?” But it’s important to ask the questions to define who you will be targeting your marketing towards.


If you run a food truck, then maybe your ideal prospect is a downtown office worker with errands to run during their lunch break, and a need to eat on the go. That seems straightforward.

If, on the other hand, you manufacture ladies’ golf clubs, then the answer may be more nebulous. Perhaps your ideal prospect is the purchaser at a retail sporting goods store, a national chain, or maybe even a distributor. Or, is it the slightly over-par golfer in her fifties, looking to improve her score and have more fun with the often frustrating game?

Do you see the problem here? A lady golfer in her fifties is decidedly different from a thirty-something purchasing agent for the local golf store. So, who do you target? Some will tell you to pick the one with the bigger sale opportunity.

Sure, the purchaser for the retail outlet will buy a crate-load of clubs, and that’s a big sale. But what about the thousands of individual lady golfers in their fifties? Collectively, that’s a big sale too. And if the individual lady golfers aren’t aware of or interested in your clubs, and the retailer can’t sell the stock they have, well, you know how that goes…

This leads you to realize that you probably need to target both, differently.

The Individual Lady Golfer

You might target the individuals with a flashy TV campaign showing a woman in her fifties, hitting the green and sticking the ball close to the pin. A look of excitement and pride beams across her face, and a mix of envious looks and cheers erupt from her friends.

The ad might offer some technical explanation of why the design and engineering of your club will make her shots more accurate.

The ad probably finishes with a closeup of a whole set of the stylish golf clubs, polished chrome shafts, and pink striped grips – definitely pink – and maybe the mention of a limited time offer.

The Purchasing Agent

Now, for the purchasing agent, none of this applies – forget TV. You’d be better off with an email to the purchaser, identifying your dealer incentives.

The email would explain how easy these clubs will be for the retail sales floor team to demonstrate. You might offer a no-charge display rack with some graphical branding to better showcase the product in their store.

You would be sure to mention the lifetime guarantee – with a no-hassle replacement process for the retailer. And you’d be certain to tell the purchasing agent that your shipment would include technical reference materials for the sales team to become knowledgeable about the uniqueness of the clubs. Don’t forget sales brochures for those shoppers who are browsing but not ready to buy, complete with a custom printed message like, “Available at XYZ Golf Shop.”

Sticking the Green

The point of this exercise is that you need to target the right prospect with the correct medium and the correct message.

If you tried to sell to the individual with an email about dealer incentives, it won’t work. You would be missing the emotional appeal. You wouldn’t have addressed her pain points or offered a solution.

Trying to sell the purchasing agent with a TV campaign is equally foolhardy. The emotions you’d be appealing to are all wrong in this situation. They might appreciate the demand you are trying to create, but you wouldn’t have provided a reason for the retailer to make a buy of your clubs versus any other manufacturer. The pain point for the purchasing agent is the need to stock the store with product that will be sure to sell quickly and easily, and your pitch needs to provide them with the solution to that problem.

Next Steps

Once you have identified who the ideal prospect is for a particular campaign, you are only then able to begin creating the campaign. That includes choosing the medium to employ, writing the promotion, selecting the graphical, video, and/or audio elements, and testing variables. Finally, you can publish or broadcast the campaign.

If you want your marketing to be more effective, it must be targeted to the right prospect, in the right medium, and at the right time.

Two of those three elements you have control over, but the time element is trickier. It is very difficult to predict when a prospect is ready to buy. However, if you have a well-crafted campaign that keeps you top-of-mind, you will cover the time element.

The Value

The work involved in marketing is often underappreciated. A lot of this is because of lazy general advertising, instead of engaging in direct response marketing.

A direct response marketer will target a specific buyer persona with an appropriate message in the correct medium. What’s equally important is that the direct response marketer will provide trackable data for your campaign. That data will allow you to analyze the responses received and see the results that the marketing professional has generated.

When you know the results, you see the value. And it all starts with identifying who your ideal prospect is.

Jefferson Vinall is a copywriter specializing in web content for B2B companies. 

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