The way to find your ideal clients is to first define and understand exactly who they are. When you are first starting out, any business coming through the door is good business. As your business grows, you will realize that some clients are better than others, some people come to you waving giant red flags, and there are some people that you just plain gel with better than others.
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You will always have prospects and clients who are outside the parameters of your ideal client, and that’s fine. But the sooner you can identify who you want to work with, who the best fit is for you and your business, the sooner those people will start showing up.
How? Is it marketing magic?
Alas, no. It’s because you will target your marketing, from your branding to your messaging, to the strategies you use, to catch the eye of your ideal clients. (Need help? Click here for the Target Market Analyzer.)
First, think about your personality and the way you work. Are you casual or corporate? An introvert or extrovert? Who are you most comfortable with? Think of your good bosses—what was great about them? Think about your bad bosses—what did they do that made you miserable? We may call people our clients or customers, but in a very real sense, they are our bosses. Your ideal clients will be a good personality match with you.
Personality can work for you or against you or both. For example, I have a weird sense of humor. When I have an initial meeting with someone and they have NO sense of humor, I know it’s not going to work and fortunately, I am at the point where I can send them to someone else. I do work with people who at least get my jokes, even if it takes them a few seconds to realize I’m kidding or teasing them. If they’re good-natured about it, then we’re good to go. But my ideal clients get my sense of humor. It’s not the ego stroke that someone thinks I’m funny (though that doesn’t hurt); it’s finding someone on the same wavelength. When you find someone like that, they are easy to work with because you can play off each other, brainstorm ideas, and have fun while doing it.
If you’re very business-like and organized, your ideal clients are going to be that way, too. If you’re casual and extroverted, your favorite clients are most likely going to be the same way. It’s not rocket science, it’s human nature. You connect and work best with people you have the most in common with.
Products and Services Determine Your Ideal Client
The products or services that you offer will narrow down who your ideal client is. Or they should. Some people like to think their product or service is “for everyone!” Yay. Good luck with that. Maybe everyone can use it but not everyone is your ideal client.
The example I love to trot out to illustrate this is a Mary Kay cosmetics salesperson who was in many of the same networking groups I was in. Every week, we would dutifully stand and give our 30 second “elevator speech.” This lady would stand up and say, “I’m So and So with Mary Kay and I’m looking for anybody with skin!”
I’m sure that’s what the Mary Kay marketing people told their reps to say—it is short, easy to remember, and gets a laugh. But it wasn’t at all accurate. Her market was women, in a certain age range, and in a certain economic range. They probably have a certain level of sophistication or amount of time to devote to things like worrying about makeup and skin care (think busy, working moms as opposed to trend-conscious high school or college co-eds).
Although she didn’t know it, she had a specific target market, one I am sure that the Mary Kay corporate people have defined clearly. (Why this didn’t filter down is beyond me.) She may, from time to time, have a male client who worries about skin care and buys moisturizer from her. But that male client is an outlier; not the demographic she should target.
If your ideal client is “anyone with skin,” you don’t have a target. It is much more efficient to narrow your focus down to those people most likely to actually buy your product. The Mary Kay lady would have done better to join all women networking and business groups.
Price Is Always a Factor
Next think about your pricing. You want to market to people who can afford you. Seems obvious, yes? I have been in many “come-on seminars” where the very slick speaker tells people to “call your credit card company on the break and ask them to increase your credit line.” Pretty ballsy, yes? Guess what? People did it. And, even though not everyone got a credit line increase, enough did to make sure the seminar people made their quota. They had a high-ticket item and used that early-in-the-seminar call to action (after a build-up on why having more credit was important and that we all had a God-given right to more credit) to make sure they had a minimum of credit card declines at the back tables.
That’s a pretty extreme example. But you need to factor your price into who your target market is. If you are selling coaching at $500 a month, your target market needs to make at least ten times that in order to be comfortable buying from you. Will you have people who stretch their budget to get your services? Yes. But wouldn’t it be easier to market those services to someone making high five or six figures who doesn’t have to make a financial decision—they will buy from you based on the value that you can provide. If you find you are talking to too many people who truly cannot afford your services, you are talking to the wrong people. And that means your marketing is off target.
Finding your ideal clients starts with defining exactly who they are: where they live, shop, eat, educational and income levels, how they buy, and what experience they are expecting.
The problem, of course, is you may end up in a place you don’t want to be.
If you don’t define and actively market for your ideal clients, you will end up wasting a lot of time (and marketing money) attracting people who won’t or can’t buy and who are not a pleasure to work with. Make it easy on yourself: Work with people you like and who like you.
Finding and focusing on strategies that work for your specific business is key to your business success. In my book, The 8 Step Marketing Plan, I lay out a simple process for finding your ideal prospects, creating an offer that will appeal to them, and then making that offer through the channels most likely to reach them. Simple. Direct. Practical. Build out your marketing plan now using real-world strategies that work for you.