Stop Hunting Unicorns! (Are They the Customers You Want?)

When it comes to proper strategy-making, one of the factors that you need to determine to effectively conceptualise the entirety of your campaign is the market you’re targeting. In other words, what kind of customers you’re aiming to sell your products or services to. This will significantly dictate what tone you should go for with your sales pitches, what kind of behaviour you should expect, and what improvements you must implement based on their problems. When you manage to pinpoint the correct niche or attract the right customers, you can expect that your business will experience exponential growth in many aspects. This is a scenario that most entrepreneurs dream of achieving because it solidifies their chances of success and keeps their company afloat. However, knowing if you’re targeting the right people can be a hit or miss — often because you’re trying instead to reach for the unicorns.

What are unicorns?

Generally speaking, unicorns are mythical beasts that are majestic in appearance yet hard to catch or even catch a glimpse of. They are often attributed to having mystical abilities that make them valuable for anyone who manages to find or befriend one. Its roots trace back to the ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilisation, accounts of natural history from the ancient Greeks, and even in the Catholic Bible. In more modern and business-related contexts, a “unicorn” is a descriptive term for an individual that is not unlike the term’s origin. It refers to someone who exceeds expectations and is almost a perfect choice, yet is difficult to catch or keep, often due to a mismatch between the business and the individual. It is a term most commonly used in human resources, which Divestopedia describes as “when those who are responsible for hiring candidates have impossible expectations […] In other words, human resources is looking for a mythical candidate (i.e. a unicorn), rather than facing reality.”

But what does this have to do with your customers?

Based from the connotation of the term “unicorn” in human resources, we can define “unicorn” customers as those who seem to be the perfect match for your business, the ones that you should be targeting with maximum effort because they’re the ones that fit your ideal customer profile. However, like in human resources, they are the type of people that you’re most likely wasting your time finding, because of impossible expectations that may not be grounded on the reality of your business or the niche they belong to. While it seems ideal to hunt for them as they’re the people that you believe need your products or services the most, again, you may be targeting the wrong ones. Simply because, like the unicorn of legends, they don’t exist. Businesses that hunt for customers that are unicorns are akin to companies looking to hire unicorns — they often have these expectations merely because they “are rushed, lazy, or actually have no idea” about what they want. When you hunt for unicorns, you’re essentially wasting your time, as (1) they don’t even exist, and (2) even if they do, they aren’t the customers you would want despite thinking that they are. Already, you’re setting yourself up for failure by forming your whole strategy around the idea of attracting the customers that your business doesn’t need.

How to avoid targeting unicorns and start hunting customers that you want and need

The answer to this dilemma is simple: define your target market realistically by making an in-depth analysis of the different factors that go into forming this profile. Base your ideal customer profile around your reality and facts backed by research, not on expectations. You can start creating a good image of what your customer should be like by employing these steps:
  • Look at your current customer base

If your business has been operating for some time, your best resource for customer profiling is your existing customer base. What kind of people are they? Why do they buy from you? Which ones bring in the most business? People like them are likely to buy from you, too.
  • Check out your competition

Whether you’re old or new to the market, you can always benefit from observing what your competition is doing and whom they are targeting. By analysing what they’re up to and what kind of customer base you have, you can find an opportunity to find a niche they haven’t touched on before and base your customer base off that.
  • Analyse what you can offer, and who’d be interested in it

When you have a product or service, it means that you already have a solution to an existing problem. It’s just a matter of matching it to the right customers that need what you can give to them. To do this, make an objective analysis of what you have, and then make a list of people that most likely need the benefits that your solution gives them. This is an excellent base to start from when building a more specific customer profile.
  • Define your demographics and psychographics

Think about the following factors to give you a more concrete idea on what kind of customers you need to target: age, location, gender, income level, education level, marital or family status, occupation, and ethnic background. Psychographics also help build a better profile for you. Consider the following personal characteristics: personality, attitudes, values, interests/hobbies, lifestyles, and behaviour. These aspects can help you develop a clearer image of the kind of people you’re looking for.
  • Evaluate your decision

Once you’ve defined your target market, ask yourself these questions to see if you’ve managed to reach a set of reasonable expectations:
  • Are there enough people who fit into the criteria?
  • Will they see a need and be able to reap benefits from what I can offer?
  • Do I understand who they are and what drives their purchasing behaviour?
  • Can they afford my prices?
  • Can I easily access and contact them from my communication platforms?
Remember: It’s time to stop hunting for unicorns because that’s detrimental to your business’ success. Instead, start looking for the ones that do exist by establishing your expectations on reality. To learn more about KONA’s Sales Training, Call Centre Training, Customer Service Training and Sales Management training in Sydney and around Australia, telephone us at 1300 611 288 or email us at