Do you know one of the biggest stumbling blocks to growing most businesses? It’s having the right type (and amount) of clients. Too few and you struggle to pay the bills, too many and you struggle to provide great service.
Recently, I did a Facebook LIVE in my group The Dream Maker’s Studio on attracting your ideal client. This post is a cleaned up version of that transcript.
Any Client is Ideal!
You may be in this spot right now – especially if you’ve recently started your business. Yet, here’s why it’s worth taking a deep breath and focusing for minute on what you do and the types of people who most need your services.
When you recognize that everyone with a pulse isn’t your ideal client, your life gets easier.
Reason 1: Your Message — when you know who you’re talking to and how you solve their problem, it’s super easy to make sales. Which is easier to understand? “If you’re a woman over 40 who has tried everything and can’t seem to lose those 15 pounds, I can help.” vs. “I help busy people lose weight.” The first one is super clear don’t you think? If you’re a woman over 40 who’s tried all types of weight loss approaches and can’t budge those 15 pounds, then you’re interested.”
Reason 2: Finding Them — If you know exactly who you help and how you help them, it’s easier to find them. If you’re an executive coach who’s usually hired by HR directors then it makes sense for you to attend HR conferences, write for HR publications, and grow your network of HR professionals.
Reason 3: Referrals — When you help people get stellar results, it’s easier for them to recommend you to others. Think about it, when you’re thrilled with a restaurant or a service, you probably tell others don’t you? It works the same for you.
The High Cost of Not Knowing
When you are unable to clearly articulate who you help and how, and you’re not sure in your mind, you waste hours, days, months and sometimes years not making the progress you deserve.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been to a craft show? Or a market of any kind with individual vendors? If so, you realize that each of those vendors have to pack up their wares, drive somewhere, set up a booth, staff the booth and break it all down and drive away at the end.
That’s a lot of work!
And you can imagine how expensive it can be if the vendor isn’t the right fit?
In my previous career as a museum educator, I worked at a historic house museum. One of our annual fundraisers was a juried craft show which means there was an application process. The potential crafters — or vendors — would submit photographs of their work and of their booth set up. Some number of them would be accepted into the show.
Some crafters drive all over the country exhibiting and selling their work at events like this. It’s an expensive investment because sometimes they don’t sell enough to cover expenses. Maybe not enough people turned out or your work didn’t “fit” the event. For example, if you’re a potter who creates fine art pottery and your lowest priced item is $400, you wouldn’t set up at a flea market where people expect trinkets and yard sale items.
That’s the power of knowing your target market. You don’t waste time and money on the wrong things.
When You Market to “Everyone” You Market to No One
And I know it’s scary to plant your flag and say, “I work with….”
You might worry about limiting yourself, or choosing the wrong type of industry/business. These are common fears. After all, if you’re in business for yourself, you want more business, right?
Well, yes and no.
Here’s why I say that, because if you spend hours every week working on tasks that are not in your “zone of genius,” then you’re losing money. It’s that idea that you’re spending too much of your time on $20/hour tasks rather than $500/hour tasks.
Or maybe they’re high-value tasks but they don’t come easily to you and you’d be more profitable hiring a contractor to do that aspect of the business. you’re trying to market to everyone you end up marketing to no one and the reason is because you’re not being specific.
You don’t know where they are hanging out. You don’t know the things to say exactly. When you know who your ideal client is, you know what to say, you know what their problems are, you know the problem(s) you solve and simplifies your marketing. You can have more than one ideal client. You can have two, or three, or four. Right? You’re not going to have twenty but, you can have more than one.
We’ll talk about that in a future post. For now, let’s focus on an exercise to help you get Client Clear.
Write down all of the questions your prospects ask you. If you don’t know, get on the phone with a few and ask them. Where do they struggle with xyz? Would it help them if….(describe your specialty.)
Once you have 15 or more questions, look at the similarities. Describe (to yourself) the types of people who are having these struggles, age/income/industry but also, think about their mindsets. Are they DIY types or people who look for a specialist to help them?
This will help you start to flesh out your ideal client profile.
Rebecca is a Fitness Trainer
She’s a member of my Facebook Group where I originally held this training and the following is a transcript.
“Rebecca, I’m gonna guess that one of your ideal clients is probably women over a certain age who are trying to lose weight. A certain amount of weight and it’s easier to attract clients when you say things like we’re going to have a six-week program. For example, for women over forty who are looking to lose ten to twenty pounds. That is a much easier message than just saying, well “I’m going to help people lose weight.” Well, how much weight? How long’s it gonna take? What am I gonna have to do? These are the questions your prospect will have.
You want to drill into the benefits of working with you.
If you specialize in working with women after their post-baby weight get back to their pre-baby weight, now you have the broad strokes of an ideal client profile.
One Simple Exercise to Help You
I don’t even know where I first picked this up but I’ve found it really useful. I’ve done this a couple of different times over my life of my business. And, it’s really simple.
Think back to your past year or two of clients.
I actually went to my files and like dug up invoices and went through that and looked at who I had worked with over the last 12-15 months. I wrote down their names, the project I did for them, whether it was writing web copy, marketing consulting or social media training. From that, I reflected on how much I enjoyed working with that person, how did they become a client (a referral? FB group? LinkedIn, etc.) and what I charged.
When you take the time to do this, you’ll recognize patterns. The whole point is to get clear on who you want to work with and what you help them with so you can refine your messaging and know how to reach them effectively.
After all, every business needs a target market, something to sell, and an effective way of reaching them.
If you want help refining your ideal client, please download this questionnaire.