Build it, and they might come – but they won’t buy

It’s all about your customer.

Without him, you’re sunk. You wouldn’t have a business.

Magnifying glass and four men in suits

Work out who your ideal customer is, then target him in your advertising. Want to learn how to do this? Buy my book here


Of course, you know that – and I know that – which is why I’m always so surprised that business owners put so little effort into getting to know their customers.

Most businesses create their product and push it out there at the world, giving scant thought to the people they hope will buy it. “Build it, and they will come” is the mantra going through many business owners’ heads.

But this is the real world, people. If you build it, loads of people may well wander along, and a small proportion of those people may buy from you…

Most won’t, though. Most of the people who turn up will wander off again, because they’re either not interested in your product, or you haven’t convinced them that they need it.

Is that okay with you? If it is, you’re probably subscribed to the wrong email series…

If it’s not okay with you though, read on.

This is where things start to get a little counter-intuitive.

You see, if you’re like me you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry turning up to ogle your wares. Surely you only want those people who are most likely to buy from you? Otherwise it’s a waste of your time and theirs.

It’s a common misconception that high traffic is everything. Everyone is obsessed with tons of search engine hits, Facebook likes and blog shares (which are all nonsense, and more on that another time).

But what use are search engine hits and Facebook likes if they don’t translate to sales? None at all, unless you’re looking to boost your ego.

Let me tell you a secret. I don’t get millions of hits through Google. I haven’t got a ton of Facebook likes. Yet my sales are through the roof.

I’d much rather have 100 people land on my one-day seminar page, and have 10 of those people book onto it, than have 1,000 hits from random Googlers who bounce straight off again because they’re not interested in what I have to offer.

Wouldn’t you rather have a 10% conversion rate from your website from a smaller number of visitors than a 0.1% conversion rate from 1,000 visitors? (And you’d be doing well to get 0.1% from 1,000 unqualified visitors!)

It’s all about putting the effort where it’ll make the most difference.

And that means targeting exactly the right people – the ones who are most likely to be interested in your offer.

Which brings me right back to this. Who is your customer?

There are a few ways you can find out. You can do some market research – ask your current customers about themselves. You can look at existing market research in your industry. You can use your imagination.

Of course, the best thing is to actually ask your customers about themselves. You’ll find out some surprising things about what they really value about you and your business.

But there’s something else you should be doing too. You need to really get inside their heads to find out things they won’t tell you even if you ask.

I call it “creating my avatar” and I do this every time I create a new product or service, or approach a new client.

You can do it too. All it takes is time, a little research, and some fairly deep thinking.

Ask yourself these questions:

Who are my customers? Are they self-employed? Gardeners? Mechanics? DIY enthusiasts? New home-owners?

What keeps them awake at night? These answers will be similar across the board, because we all care about the same things. What you need to do is relate these deep-seated problems to your product or service. Issues like aging, income, health and bills.

What are their frustrations? Again, you need to relate these frustrations to your own business and how you can help. Stuff like not enough time, too many distractions, lack of motivation.

What are their needs? These are NOT the same as their wants (see magic wand, below). Do your customers need to be shown how to do something? How to use your product or service? Do they need support or coaching? Do they need more knowledge or confidence?

What are their fears? I’m talking about the deep-seated fears we all have, and how you can tap into them. The fear of being insignificant. The fear of being poor, embarrassed or humiliated. A fear of marketing, of the internet, or of not being creative enough.

If they could wave a magic wand, what would they do? This is where you come in. Would they want more money? Respect? A beautiful garden? A kitchen designed exactly to suit their needs?

Do you see what I’m trying to get you to do here? I’m trying to get you to burrow deep into your customers’ minds to find out what really motivates them. Because once you understand that, you’ll have no trouble marketing directly to them.

You’ll attract the kind of customers you want, need and deserve – and push away all the others, the ones who are never going to buy from you anyway.

So let your competitors stay obsessed with high SEO traffic, Facebook likes and tons of blog comments. That’s great for you, because they’re putting loads of energy into an ego boost, while you’re putting your effort into attracting the kinds of customers who are most likely to spend their money with you.


You can get your copy of Business For Superheroes here. Then while you wait for it to arrive, you should think about your “avatar”.

Start now: make a little diagram, or a mind map, or a list – or whatever works for you – and build a picture of your ideal customer.

Use the headings I gave you up there:

  • Who?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • Their frustrations?
  • Their fears?
  • Their needs?
  • Their wants – their magic wand?

You’ll find all your marketing comes much easier once you know who you’re talking to.

About the Author

Vicky Fraser

Please do share any articles from this site in part or in full — as long as you leave all links intact, give credit to the author, and include a link to this website and the following bio. Vicky is a gin-quaffing, pole-dancing, trapeze-swinging copywriter who writes about the perils and joys of writing, velociraptor training, and running a small business. She writes this stuff on her websites and She’s the author of one book (with two more in utero) and teaches small business owners how to write copy that sells, and how to be more fecking interesting. You can follow her on FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.


Juicy secrets and profitable arse-kickings from the Small Business Ringmaster. Enter your email address to get my DAILY arse-kickings on how to market your business so you stand out — and live the life you want.

What’s Your Best Email Address, Toots?