If we want to have a business, we need to sell our services and products. And to sell our services and products, we need clients. In the end, it is as simple as that.
We might have problems with the word ‘selling’ – and yes I prefer coming from a place of service too – but in the end, it doesn’t matter how you call it. To have a successful business, you need to help people in exchange for money and to be able to help them, you need to know them very well.
If you think you know your clients, think again. There is more depth to understanding them. And because your business changes, the profile of this ideal client develops too. So let’s dive in deep together.
What does it mean to have an ideal client?
An ideal client is someone whom you love to work with, and they love to work with you. They find the perfect solution for their problems or needs in your offerings. The ideal client will buy from you more than once if possible and will positively recommend you to everyone they know.
Having ideal clients means you get to do what you love with people that appreciate that, who feel valued in return and that see real results from you working together.
But not only that, with ideal clients everything runs smooth; there is excellent communication, you get paid timely, and you get energy from the projects.
There are 7 steps to getting to know your ideal client:
1) The ideal client you love working with
First, let’s start with something we probably all know. Whom do you want to work with?
Now don’t be fooled, this is of course only the top of the mountain, but it’s as good a place to start as any. Whom do you want to work with?
Are they entrepreneurs? Women? Coaches? Ballet dancers? I don’t know what it is but make a basic concept of who they are. Don’t forget that I said that it is about whom you WANT to work with. Not whom you work with now, not whom you think can pay you, but whom you would LOVE to work with!
Write down: Whom do you want to work with?
And that’s step 1 done!
We came up with a generic description of your ideal client in step 1. But does that client identify with how you called them?
Everyone has multiple ‘egoic labels’. These labels are words that people use to describe themselves. By using this in our communication, the audience will think: “Hey, he is talking to me!” or ” This is all about me!”. Using the right egoic label will help get them to feel this way.
So now we need to make that generic description into an egoic label that the ideal client identifies with. You might call someone a ‘solo-entrepreneur’, but if that person does not identify with that label, then it misses its target in communication. If they call themselves an entrepreneur or a CEO, then that is the egoic label they give themselves. But they will also be ‘mother’, ‘sister’, ‘fitgirl’, whatever suits them.
When searching for the right egoic label for your perfect client, remember that some are stronger than others. “Mum” for instance, is a powerful egoic label. You either are one, or you aren’t. “Change agent” (yes, this is an actual egoic label I found) might get people confused. Am I one? What does it mean? Do I feel comfortable in that role?
Decide which egoic labels might suit your clients and pick the strongest. If you are not sure, you might test it out on some of your current clients or friends that are your ideal clients.
3) The problem of your perfect client
If you want to connect with that person that we came up with in step 1, we first need to know what their issues are.
There are two types of problems that you client have; the one that you see they have and the ones they KNOW they have and are keeping them up at night.
For instance, they might be thinking “I don’t feel the love of my partner anymore”. They might think their partner may not love them anymore, while you know it has more to do with taking some real one-on-one time, no tv, mobiles and all other technology that drives a wedge between them.
Or they might be thinking “I am suffering from stomachaches a lot” Not knowing their actual problem is they are allergic to lactose and gluten.
So, write down: What is the problem your client is currently facing, that he is aware of? How does he feel because of this?
Got it? Great!
Now write down: What problems are the underlying causes of this? And How can it be fixed?
4) The characteristics of your ideal client
Now that we know ‘who’ the perfect client is in very generic terms and we know their problems, we can hone down on the characteristics of your ideal client. An excellent place to start that process is your current and former clients.
Start by writing down current and past clients. Make a list of the best five clients you’ve had. More than five is good too, but be sure they are favourites! They need to fit with that ideal client you are looking for.
(If you don’t because you do not have many clients yet, or you weren’t too happy with them, don’t worry: write down five people who would be your ideal client that you know. Family, friends, coworkers, anyone you’d be thrilled to work with.)
Let’s use that list of favourite former/current clients and use that to get the basics down. You might want to know:
- Lifestyle (whether that is clothes or food, whatever you know that your ideal client loves)
I said ‘might want to know’ because it depends on what you do on what is essential. I talked to a divorce lawyer a while back, and to her, gender is not important at all, and neither is age. But location, personality, lifestyle are. They make her think someone is an ideal client or not.
You might even take it a step further and come up with questions like “How was their youth?”. Inquiries like that are where the real magic happens. It might not be about their youth, but it is good to find specific things that your ideal clients share. This will have to do with their problems most likely.
Knowing this will help you find common ground that you can use in your communication. Talking about it will show your ideal client that you get them.
Think about the essential characteristics of your perfect client.
Before we go on you: you might start to see some differences between your ideal clients too. Your customers might be all women that love to craft, but some are young and love to craft in the bit of free time they have in the evenings, while some are a bit older, mum of 2 and craft with their kids and the last group are older women that want to stay active, craft in groups during daytime. While the overall description and egoic label will fit them all, you still want to define the differences between them. That is where persona’s come in.
A persona is an example of that specific group of your ideal clients. You make it into a ‘real’ person you can talk to.
You give them a name, an age, a place to live. You write down what they read, listen to, watch. You write down who they are friends with, how they communicate, etcetera. And all this info you can use when talking to them. You will be able to get in their heads, so they don’t feel like you are talking to everyone in the world, except them. No, they will feel like you are talking to just them, no one else, and they will feel special because of it.
Write one or multiple personas for your target audience.
The more accurate and specific the persona is, the more you can use her when trying to figure out what to say.
Not everyone needs multiple persona’s; sometimes, you just need 1 for that ideal client group. The two last steps that you will find beneath can be used per persona or for your perfect client overall, depending on your needs.
6) Dreams and Fears
The first thing to dive more deeply into the head of your ideal client is by looking at their dreams and fears.
Some forms of marketing use the fears of a customer. Those aren’t my favourite tactics, but it is vital to know what scares your customer. What worries he has, where his pain points are. You might not want to use it directly in your marketing, but if you know what he worries and fears, you can understand the ideal client better.
For me, however, dreams are just as important, or maybe even more valuable. What does she want to achieve? What does she want to do or see more than anything in the world? What is her biggest dream? The one she might not even say out loud?
Write out the dreams and fears of your perfect client.
7) The environment of your ideal client
Your client is not alone with his thoughts all day. This problem he/she has will show up; there might be things he/she hears in the media, or when talking about it with friends.
To dive deeper into the problem the client has, and how to deal with this, we need to think about four elements:
- What does he think/feel about regarding the problem you can help solve?
- What does she hear from others (family, friends, media) about this?
- What does he see around him regarding this problem and its solution?
- What does she say and do about it?
Let’s pretend I am a service provider for weddings, aka a wedding planner. These are the answers I would come up with about my ideal clients:
My client will think & feel:
- overwhelmed about what needs to happen
- excited and scared at the same time
- that husband to be isn’t really helping much
They will hear from others:
- Did you book the location yet? You don’t stand a chance if you don’t do it at least 6 months in advance?
- Oh gosh, I remember my wedding when … <add a random thing that went wrong that you don’t want a bride to be to know about because it will stress her out>
The bride will see:
- So many ideas on Pinterest that she doesn’t know where to start
- The most perfect pictures
- Long lists of what needs to happen before the wedding
The couple will say/do:
- I don’t know where to start!
- I am so scared I forget something important
- There is so much to do and so little time
- I want it to be unique, but I can’t figure out how
See what I mean? Knowing these will help you to get under the skin of your ideal client and let her know that yes, you do know what she’s facing and YES, you can help!
Funny thing is some of these will differ depending on who your ideal client is. Maybe the couple is stressed and overwhelmed, but what they are saying is “There is still a lot to do, but I am sure we will figure this out!” – This shows a whole other personality and therefore, will be a completely different kind of perfect client.
Write out ‘think/hear/see/do’ for your ideal client.
Your ideal client
Now that you have these detailed images of your perfect client, you can use this in your communication and marketing. It will be so much easier to talk to your ideal client in a way he/she understands and feels attracted to. But you can also use this to work on improving your services into packages because you know that is something they will need for sure.
When it comes to maintaining the ‘images’ of your ideal client, I recommend doing this process at least once a year. It won’t take as much time as the first time, but it’s good to keep your ideal client top of mind and notice any changes!