As many founders know, it's difficult to identify your “ideal customer”—the customer that is most likely to reach their desired outcomes while using your products and services. To ease this process, I first ask my clients to identify their “anti-customer” and then use this concept to point the way toward their ideal customer.

What is an anti-customer?

An anti-customer is someone who, despite being in your target market, would not succeed in using your products or services to reach their objectives. Anti-customers have the type of problem you solve and they want the solution you promise, but you have two different worldviews.

You’ve probably experienced an anti-customer; they’re the customer that emotionally exhausts your team and requires infinite resources to keep them from ending the relationship. You may have even considered ending the relationship yourself.

Knowing your anti-customer can be helpful in many ways. First, it can help you to keep these customers out of your sales funnel and avoid the cost of their painful onboarding, maintenance, negotiations, and eventual breakup. The other benefit to knowing your anti-customer is that it enhances your ability to know and attract your ideal customer.

How do I identify my anti-customer?

I used an anti-customer exercise with Muv Integrated Physical Culture (Muv) to help them identify their ideal customer for an upcoming marketing campaign and website update for their fitness products and services.

I started the exercise by asking Muv’s owner, Jhon Yonan, to reflect on the commonalities across Muv’s anti-customers, as defined by any customers who initially purchased Muv’s products and services but did not renew.

“These customers are more likely to pursue the latest fitness and nutrition fads. They want to go hard from the start of the workout, at the cost of proper form, and they want public metrics that allow them to measure their results against others.”

Jhon and I joked that Muv’s anti-customer would likely want to take a mid-workout selfie but would be disappointed to see that the Muv studio (intentionally) doesn’t have mirrors.

What should I do once I know my anti-customer?

Once Jhon had identified his anti-customer, I asked him to think through the opposing qualities of his anti-customer and consider the qualities of customers who have subscribed the longest, made the most purchases, or referred friends.

“The customers who stick with Muv tend to be either fitness-focused people who have an injury or people who have previously never worked out before. Our team knows how to customize workouts to keep people strong and mobile despite injuries or inexperience and we demonstrate empathy for both groups.”

As a result of identifying customers who do not share Muv's worldview, Jhon was able to describe the customers who are excited to continue as customers and recommend Muv to their friends.

Muv worked with the marking company Make Roots to use this concept of the anti-customer to persuade their ideal customer and dissuade their anti-customer. The large text at the top of the Muv landing page now reads: “No Fads. No Mirrors. No Egos.” Check it out at muvintegrated.com.

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