Your Ideal Client
One of the most fundamental aspects of your marketing, product development and business plan is knowing who your ideal client is.
Without this knowledge, you won’t know how to write your content in a way that’s attractive to your clients, and you won’t be able to tailor your products or services to their unique needs. When I talk about content I mean everything that you develop for your clients or potential clients to draw them to you and help you solve the problems that they face in their everyday lives, so everything hinges on this.
When you know who your ideal clients are, your client attraction efforts will become vastly more effective, because you’ll be able to pinpoint what they want, what challenges they have, where they’re looking for information about your industry, and what trends and mindsets influence the way they search for products and choose who to buy from.
In this blog post, I’ll bust some myths about having ideal clients that cost businesses thousands of dollars each year, and I’ll tell you the nine things you need to know about your ideal client, as well as how to choose your ideal client if you aren’t sure who they are.
Why some businesses avoid having ideal clients:
One of the costliest myths that businesses fall for is the idea that they don’t need an ideal client.
Some of their reasons seem sound, but they’re based on misconceptions about what clients want and how client attraction works.
Here are two of the reasons why people fall into that trap:
Reason 1: They’re afraid of driving clients away.
If you could potentially target a wide range of different demographics, why would you want to alienate some of them by narrowing your niche?
That’s a fear that many business owners have when they first start to consider identifying an ideal client. They believe that the wider the net they cast, the more clients they’ll draw in.
Reason 2: Their product could be used by anyone.
Some businesses could, in theory, serve almost any client under the sun. Life coaches who teach universal success principles that apply to anyone, chiropractors who could work on anyone who has a spine, and businesses that sell food are all examples of people with a very broad potential audience.
If you’re in such an industry, why would you want to narrow your client base?
Why not having an ideal client WILL cost you:
If you share these concerns about having an ideal client, here are four truths about client attraction that should put your mind at ease:
What’s attractive to one client won’t be attractive to others.
People are the most inclined to make a purchase when your marketing speaks to their exact challenges and needs. When someone looks at your offer, they should think “Yes – that’s EXACTLY what I need! It’s like that product was made for me!”
If you try to create and sell offerings that are meant to apply to everyone, there’s a good chance that they’ll be partly applicable to everyone, but ideal for no one. Your clients will look at your offer and think, “Some of that looks good, but a lot of it just doesn’t apply to me”.
If someone is motivated enough that they’re actively looking to buy, the chances are good that they’re looking for something in specific. An offer that’s only a partial match, or that seems to be designed with a different demographic in mind, will be rejected.
One excellent example I’ve heard a few times is that of a pharmacy. If you try to sell an “everything pill”, will anybody trust it enough to buy it? Probably not – and even if they did, there’s a good chance that they wouldn’t think to look for it.
If you have a headache, the chances are good that you’re looking for a pill designed to treat headaches. Unless you were already aware of the “everything pill” before your search began, it probably won’t even occur to you to look for it. You could walk right past it and not even register it.
When you know exactly who your clients are, what they need, and what they struggle with, you’ll be able to create products and marketing materials that are exactly what they’re looking for, and you can learn their language and phrase your marketing in ways that appeal strongly to them.
You don’t want to waste your time and budget on people who are less inclined to buy.
Your ideal clients aren’t the ONLY people who will buy from you, but they are the people who are the most likely to make a purchase.
If you were fishing, would you cast your line or drop your net repeatedly in random parts of the lake, or would you specifically target the areas where you knew you’d catch the most fish? Would you use bait or a lure that’s good for all kinds of fish, or the ones that will attract the specific type of fish you’re looking to catch?
The same principle applies to marketing. You’ll never have the time and budget to reach ALL the possible demographics at once, so you should spend that time and money on the demographic that needs and wants your product the most, and that’s the most likely to make a purchase.
You don’t WANT to attract every type of client.
Not every client is a good one, especially if you’re selling services as opposed to products.
If you’re going to have to spend any amount of time working with a client, you don’t want to attract the kind of people who are lukewarm about your services, and who will drag their feet, complain, nitpick, make unreasonable demands, hamper your efforts, and prove impossible to please.
You also don’t want to attract people who aren’t able to get the full benefit from your offering. If something outside of your control will prevent you from getting good results for them, then enrolling them despite that will only result in frustration for you, a disappointment for them, and possibly bad reviews for your business.
Just because you aren’t targeting someone, that doesn’t mean they won’t come.
Even if you’re targeting six-figure business owners because they’re the most likely to be able to afford your offering, that doesn’t mean five-figure business owners who really resonate with you and need your product won’t scrape together the funds to enter your program.
People who primarily target one gender or age group sometimes attract members of others. If someone is really a fit for your business, the fact that your marketing is tailored to another group won’t stop them from coming to you.
Having an ideal client isn’t about driving away clients who are a good fit. It’s about making yourself more attractive to the people who need you the most.
Here are the 10 things you need to know about your ideal client:
A twenty-two-year-old who is just starting out in their career, and who may be seeking a partner or raising their first child, will have different needs, challenges and desires than a sixty-year-old who’s beginning or preparing for retirement.
Their issues in the areas of health, vocation, relationships, homeownership, education, finances, time freedom and more will all be affected by their age.
They may also have different mindsets about technology, and different levels of comfort when it comes to using technology to navigate your customer journey.
Because of this, I recommend that you pick a fifteen-to-twenty-year age range, and target your marketing to that.
For example, you might notice that most of your clients are thirty-five to fifty-five years old, so it makes sense to focus your marketing efforts on people in that age range.
Their vocation type and work location.
The owner of a seven-figure business with a large office building will have very different priorities, problems, needs and financial abilities compared to a person working a minimum-wage nine-to-five job or a home-based solopreneur earning sixty thousand dollars a year.
If your ideal clients have a business building, they may need additional maintenance for their office, tax advice on the exemptions they can claim, services for office parties, and a variety of other things that employees don’t think about.
If they run a home-based business, they may have trouble unplugging at night, separating business expenses from personal expenses, or preventing their families from distracting them from their work.
If they work for someone else, they may have problems with their boss, coworkers or work conditions, a desire for a better office or promotion, or a need to raise the value of their work so they can get their boss to raise their pay.
And if they’re a homemaker who has no job or business, then you don’t want to waste valuable space in your marketing materials by talking about how you’ll help them improve their career. You should focus instead on how you’ll make their home life and social life better, and make it easier for them to complete the tasks they have around the house.
Knowing their vocation type and work location will help you to tailor your offering to their challenges and needs, and to add selling points that you might not have thought of if you hadn’t known your audience’s exact set of problems and desires.
Their familial status.
If your ideal client is single and looking, your selling points could include ways in which your product makes them more attractive to potential partners.
If they’re married, you can highlight the ways in which you can improve their relationship, even if the effect is indirect.
And if they have children, you can point out how you can help them be better parents, or help their children to grow up happier, healthier and more well-adjusted.
Their level of tech-savviness and social media use.
This will affect what kind of technology they might use to navigate your customer journey, what kind of apps or programs you should use to promote your business, and where you should advertise.
If your target audience is tech-phobic, or at least limited or reluctant when it comes to adopting new technology, using things like smartphone apps and QR codes to market your business is not the best approach.
But if you’re targeting people who love to play with the newest tech toys, it’s important to take advantage of new advances in technology.
Where they spend time and seek information.
It does little good to have an ideal client if you aren’t promoting yourself in places where they will see you.
You need to know where they spend their time, and where they look for information about your industry and solutions to the problems you solve.
Do they have activities outside their homes, such as clubs, groups, churches, and organizations?
Do they attend Meetup groups or business networking events you can join? Even if it isn’t strictly a networking event, you can still get clients from almost any event you join, if you know how.
Do they use certain forums to seek information, join groups on Facebook related to your topic, or search for certain types of videos on YouTube?
Do they rely on directories or citation sites such as Yelp, Zomato or TripAdvisor for their comparison shopping?
When you know where your ideal clients look for information, you can put yourself in front of the people who are the readiest to buy. And when you know where they hang out when they aren’t actively looking, you can get their attention and loyalty before your competition even enters their radar.
- Their level of education, especially where it relates to your field.
If your target audience has a high level of knowledge about your field, you can use more advanced language than you would if you were speaking to a layperson.
Knowing your target demographics’ education level also helps you to target the locations where they might hang out, and choose the audience for some forms of online advertising according to their education.
When you’re creating your ideal client profile, select a level of education, such as high school, two or more years in college, a master’s degree, a four-year degree, or a PH.D.
Their income level.
Their income level will affect whether time or money are more important to them, and how expensive a product they can afford. In general, the poor value money more than time, and the rich value time more than money.
If you want to make the maximum number of sales, it’s important to target a demographic that can afford your offering without struggle or be endangering their financial future. If your chosen audience must think long and hard about whether accepting your offer will make them fall behind on their mortgage, they’ll be more reluctant to say “yes”.
When determining your ideal clients’ income level, choose a fifty thousand per year range. For example, you could target business owners who are making fifty thousand to a hundred thousand a year.
Where they live.
Different areas have different cultures and subcultures, which will enable you to create a more targeted and effective marketing message.
Knowing the geographical location in which your ideal clients live also enables you to target your advertising to those locations, to choose the citation sites and directories in which you want to create profiles, and to use location-specific language to describe your services.
Some people prefer to shop locally, and some professions are inherently better able to serve clients within easy driving distance of their building. For example, if a person in Pittsburgh had a malfunctioning toilet, they’d be more likely to click a search result that said: “best plumber in Pittsburgh” than one that simply said “plumber”.
Knowing where your ideal clients live will help you to get found on the internet, to attract local shoppers, and to target your marketing to the physical locations where your clients spend time.
Do they own or rent their house?
Homeowners, tenants, and landlords have different needs when it comes to home maintenance, responsibilities and worries.
Depending on their rental agreement, tenants may not be responsible for maintaining the property, nor allowed to make important decisions regarding its maintenance, so it does little good to offer home repair or maintenance services to them. You can, however, offer ways to make it easier to make their rental payments.
Landlords and homeowners, on the other hand, may be interested in increasing the value of their properties, decreasing maintenance costs, and claiming any tax benefits related to the properties they own.
10. What problem are they seeking a solution for that you’re uniquely able to solve?
This is the most important of the ten points, which is one of the reasons why I speak to it last. The other reason is that you must determine the first nine criteria in order to find the answer to this question.
Remember, people don’t look for products on the Internet; they look for answers for problems that they know they have.
They want to know things like:
- How to lose weight.
- How to reverse disease with nutrition.
- How to meditate.
- How to fix a leaky toilet.
- How to prevent stink bugs form coming into the house.
- How to kill moles.
- How to sure ear infections without medication.
They also want to know things like…
- Is black mold dangerous?
- What are the symptoms and long-term health effects of black mold?
- What are the effects of high fructose corn syrup on your liver?
- Is it effective to use bleach to remove black mold?
When you know what problems your clients have and care about, this enables you to anticipate what kind of questions or phrases, also known as long-tail keywords, they’ll type into search engines, so you can design your marketing content to rank highly in those searches.
This will help you to stand out and get found amongst the approximately four trillion pages on the internet.
It also gives you the ability to tailor your products and branding to their challenges and desires, which makes you far more attractive to them than a company that doesn’t match their needs as precisely as you do.
What if I’m not sure how to choose my ideal client?
If you aren’t sure who to select as your ideal client, here are some criteria you can use:
Who do you understand the most?
Whose challenges, desires, mindsets, habits, needs, fears, and limitations do you understand the most?
Who do you relate to the most strongly, and who can relate to you?
The more you understand your client, the better you can serve them, and the more they’ll relate connect with and trust you.
Who do you enjoy working with the most?
When you enjoy working with someone, it will show in your attitude, your energy, and the quality of your work. It will also affect your personal well-being and ability to be happy while doing business.
Because of this, it’s helpful to determine who you enjoy working with and to focus on attracting that kind of client.
Who needs everything you have to offer?
If you specialize in offering a complete solution to a problem, you don’t want to focus your marketing on people who only need one or two steps or components. You want people who can get the full value out of your most robust offering, and who are willing to pay you as much as it’s worth.
Who is strongly aware of their need for your offering, and ready to act on it?
Even if everyone needs or can benefit from your product, it’s still best to focus your marketing on the people who are aware of that need and are prepared to invest in getting it fulfilled.
Your decision doesn’t have to be permanent.
When you’re choosing your ideal client, bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. You can choose a niche and “date” them for a few months before you decide whether you want to commit to them in the long term.
What is the next step?
Next week on our blog series on marketing problems that small business owners face, I’ll reveal what the Customer Journey is, and why that model will bring you far more clients than the traditional “sales funnel” model will.
In the meantime, I have an invitation for you.
We’re all busy running businesses. As a small business owner myself, I understand this more than most people who offer digital marketing advice. I also understand that you don’t have time to search for answers and information on blogs made by people who don’t understand your challenges and needs.
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