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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Roberts

The Number 1 Mistake I see in Marketing

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

The number one mistake I see in marketing and communications in business and nonprofits is not truly understanding your customers. Sadly, it's work that is fairly simple to do. But identifying your ideal client is not a one-and-done proposition. It takes time and refinement.

I'm Jennifer Roberts, and I'm the owner of Back Porch Communications. In my work with businesses and nonprofit leaders, I see it again and again and again. Big companies are not immune either. Many organizations jump into marketing and communications tactics without really understanding who they are trying to talk to.

Let me give you an example. Would you show up as the guest reader in your kindergartner's class prepared to read a Harry Potter novel for 30 minutes? It is one of the books most credited with exciting youth about reading. Of course not. You understand that five and six-year-olds want to see picture books, and a Harry Potter novel would go way over their head.

Would you cater a business luncheon with juice boxes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Goldfish crackers? It's a popular meal for many school children. Maybe the adults would be intrigued by a throw-back meal to their childhood, but probably not something you want to spring on a group of adults in a business setting.

These may seem extreme, but I've seen marketing decisions made with similar logic. Without having a clear understanding of what customers want to know, leaders throw out information in hopes that something sticks. Or worse yet, in an attempt to get customers to comply with the business' needs, they throw out information they want their customers to know with little regard for their wants or desires.

Ideal client analysis is the first step in my work with clients. I've never had a situation where a client of mine says – we know all that information about our clients already. So I'm here to offer a few questions that I think are important to understand about your customers – not only so you can serve them better, but meet them where they are at and help them through your sales process.

Questions for Ideal Clients

You can use these questions on some of your favorite customers – the ones who pay on time, love the work you do and are excited to come back again. Use these questions to better understand the customers you want to clone. Pay very close attention to the answers and the words they use.

1. How did you hear about us?

2. What problem were you struggling to solve before we started working together?

3. What types of things had you tried unsuccessfully to solve this problem?

4. What type of transformation did you get from our work together?

5. What would you tell a friend with a similar problem about how we worked together?

These are pretty generic questions, and when I work with clients one-on-one, we reformat these and expand them for their specific business or industry. But this is an excellent start to a better understanding of your ideal client's needs and desires.

So what do you do with all this information when you get it?

· You can use it to make content for your social media channels and website that your ideal client will find riveting.

· Take some of the language they are using and put it directly in your copy! Speak your ideal client's words right back to them.

There is always more work to be done to understand our ideal clients. Times change. Needs and wants change. Our business needs change. Ideal client information is something we must refine and adjust over time. But until we dedicate the time to really understand our customers – beyond simple demographics like age, gender, and household income – our marketing and communication efforts will not be as successful.

If you are interested in doing ideal client work customized for your business, let's talk. I'm accepting new clients and would love to support you in this work. Shoot me an email at

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