If you think having an “ideal client” is to woo woo or some type of luxury, it’s not.
Defining an ideal client is essential to your success.
I get it.
You’re terrified that if you focus on one or two client “types” that you’ll exclude the rest. But you won’t.
Other people will still want to work with you, even if you declare you’re a ‘health coach for executive women” or a wedding photographer.
Yet, when you do make such a definition – whew! Your life just got a 1000 times easier. You now have a specific solution for a specific type of person. Your answer to “what do you do” is succinct and descriptive.
Let’s take freelance writing (my core business) for example, which do you think is more descriptive and useful? “I’m a writer.” Or, “I craft sales and marketing materials for entrepreneurs launching new products and services so they make more sales.”
The second is better right? It defines “what” (craft sales and marketing marketing materials) with the “who” (entrepreneurs launching new products/services) and the “why” (so they make more sales.)
That can still get more specific. Here’s an example: “I write sales pages and email follow up sequences for wellness entrepreneurs who host retreats so they can focus on their content and not their marketing.”
Now I’m getting REALLY specific. And I get it, it can feel a little scary.
Yet, it’s also liberating. No longer are you saying “yes” to a 20 different types of work. You can focus on what you do best which means you’ll get better at it and can do it faster. That means if you charge on a project basis, you just got a raise. Your clients benefit because your work is top notch.
This works whether you’re a financial advisor or a business coach or anything you do. Think of the doctoring profession, they have specialties, right? You wouldn’t go to a brain surgeon to do a knee replacement.
You can stop being all things to all people.
Here’s How to Make It Less Scary
The whole ideal client conversation shifted for me when I started thinking of who is my ideal client “right now?” Before I was getting stuck around some future fantasy that’s a year or more down the road.
But when I looked at the people I’ve most enjoyed working with, I realize there were similarities. They’re shared qualities of these people – nice, business minded, smart, eager to let me do what they hired me to do, responsive.
I also noticed that while they’re not necessarily niche specific, many of them are in some type of “helping” profession – therapists, coaches, pet professionals, chiropractors, makers of products to improve your lives, etc.
Which tells me they have a compassion element and an interest in helping others. As the daughter of a mental health therapist and a farmer raised in the small-town South, that makes sense. The compassion gene is built in to me.
Here’s an Approach That May Work For You
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. There’s nothing like going old-school with this. Next, write down your past 10-20 clients (you can look through your files to jog your memory.) What did you like (or dislike) about working with them? Write down any similarities — industry, age-range, gender, approach to business.
Also, write down their business stage. Early stage tech startups are very different than established businesses with 7-10 years experience. They have different needs and expectations. Which are more aligned with your skill set?
After you’ve got this all down, circle your favorite qualities – clear communication, enjoyable to work with and responsiveness are on my list. Yours may be different.
Notice how you got these clients too. Did they come from a speaking event? Referrals? Facebook ads? How did they come to work with you?
Why the Ideal Client Makes Your Marketing Easier
Once you’ve crafted a profile of your ideal client, you know what they look like. You know what to say to them and the solutions you bring for their problem.
If you’re niche specific, that will REALLY make your marketing easier. After all, if you sell SEO services to veterinarians, doesn’t it make sense to speak at veterinarian events and show up in their online “hangouts?”
Of course it does.
You get to be strategic. There’s an expression about “going an inch wide and a mile deep.” If you can do that with your business, you’ll have more fun and spend less time marketing because you’ll attract your ideal clients.
Here’s the thing. When you define a particular solution for a specific type of person, it means you have the opportunity to focus your messaging and your marketing. It makes it easier to create processes and specific solutions and you can reach your prospects easier.
You work less and make more money.
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