Understanding your ideal customer is essential for branding and marketing your business. You should know characteristics like their typical age, occupation, location, gender, interests, etc. But, it’s often when you think beyond the standard demographic or psychographic buckets that you start to truly understand how you can build a memorable brand that attracts your best prospects.

answer these 5 unusual questions about your ideal client

Here are five questions to help you think a little differently about the persona of your ideal customer or client.

1. What are your customers using now as an alternative to your product or service? 

It’s a good idea to know who your competitors are.

Then, think about the specific ways that you are different. Build your brand around these differentiators rather than around the more common areas.

For example, if you do personal training and know that most of your prospects currently go to a gym, emphasize the personalized approach, and are highly trained. On your website or in social media posts, make sure your photography shows someone exercising with a coach rather than just exercising.

And remember that sometimes the alternative is not a competitor. It could be that they’re doing nothing and ignoring the problem altogether. If this is the case, your message needs to pinpoint the difficulty of doing nothing. Let them know precisely how their situation will get worse if they ignore it.

2. What are the benefits of the benefits of using your product or service?

That’s not a typo.

Every product or service has benefits. Now think beyond that to the benefits of those benefits. That’s often what matters to people.

For example, if your company can help people save money, think about the benefit of saving money. Maybe your clients will be less stressed, or they can save money to take a vacation, or they can work fewer hours. These second-level benefits are much more emotional than just saving money.

Your product or service is often just a means to an end, and uncovering the real drive behind why your customer purchases your product will help you connect with them more fully.

3. When and where do prospects learn about your product or service?

Think about how your potential customers will learn about your business.

If you have a small professional services company—maybe you’re a financial planner, wellness coach, or bookkeeper—you’ll likely pick up most of your clients through networking and word-of-mouth referrals. So, you’ll need to master your elevator speech or unique value proposition.

If you are starting a store or restaurant, your signs and the exterior of your building are critical parts of your brand.

It’s hard to have the time and money to do everything perfectly when you first start your business, but if you know when and where people frequently see or hear about your business, you’ll know where to focus your attention and invest your money. Remember, first impressions are critical, so make sure those first brand touchpoints are high quality and on target.

4. What are some of their favorite brands?  

Once you have a picture of your typical customer, try to find out what other brands are passionate about. They don’t have to be directly in your industry or even relate to your business.

For example, maybe you’re selling baby clothes to new moms. Some women in this age group like more traditional luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Coach, where others like more casual and rugged brands like Vans, Jeep, and Target.

Ask your customers what brands they’d love to buy (even if they can’t afford it). You’ll get a better idea of the types of brands they idealize. Now, similarly, position your brand to generate that same connection and adoration.

5. Who would YOU like to work with?

As a small business owner, you can get very close to your customers. You may be working with them directly if you’re a coach, consultant, or therapist. Or, you may see them as they come to your store or restaurant.

Think about what types of clients you’d love to serve. Who appreciates your business and isn’t a pain? When you have clients you love, they probably love you back. You’ll maintain your passion, and more importantly, these happy customers are likely to refer more people who are similar to themselves.