Category Archives: ideal client

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Getting Started with Defining Your Ideal Client

Getting Started with Defining Your Ideal Client written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Defining Your Ideal Client

Let me ask you this, if you have clients, and had the chance, right now, to chuck them all, and be able to go out there and say, “I can work with anyone I want to work with,” would you still be working with who you’re working with today?

Experience tells me that you would say, maybe some, but probably not all. That comes from the feeling that anybody who buys what you do, or anybody who needs the products that you make or sell is an ideal client.

What you have to do in order to get your marketing strategy started, is you have to think about how you can narrowly define your ideal client.

  • What do they look like?
  • What are their problems?
  • How do they want to be served?
  • What do they think value is?

I’m going to talk a little more about each of those, but you have to get to the point where you are so sure about how to describe that ideal client, that you are also defining who your ideal client is not.

Let’s say I wanted to refer business to you, whatever your business is. I’ve got friends, neighbors, and colleagues that need what you do, and so I came to you and said, “Hey, I want to send some folks your way, I really love what you’re doing.”

How would I spot your ideal client? Think about that. That is one of the greatest places to start when you’re thinking about how to narrowly define your ideal client is if somebody came to you and said, “Okay, how would I spot that person?”

Could you define and describe all the characteristics of your ideal client in a way that I’m going to say, “Oh, okay, yeah, I know a couple people like that.”

That’s what you’re really after.

Finding your ideal client

It’s really important that you develop the habit of understanding who it is that you’re going after, identifying them, and building your entire business around attracting them.

You may get lucky and be able to define them quickly, but what I’ve experienced is that you start with a hypothesis, and over time, if you pay attention, you’ll learn who you like working with.

Your ideal client will find you, partly because of how your business evolves, because of how your messaging gets tighter, and because of the results you’re getting for people like them.

If you’re just starting you don’t have to have the answer to who your ideal client is.

You have to have an idea, and you have to try to prove that hypothesis, but mainly you have to pay attention, because I know a lot of people that have decided that they love working in certain industries, or in a certain niche, and they had no idea they would, it just found them.

They started working with a couple clients like that, and they discovered what they really enjoyed doing.

So what if you do have clients and still haven’t defined this idea of an ideal client? Take a look at the stratifying of your current client base.

What I mean by that, is rank each client by profitability.

When I do this with people, I often help them discover that there is work that they’re doing, or segment that they’re serving or a product or service that they are still engaged in that maybe they did when they started, but it’s not something they focus on anymore because it’s not really profitable.

What I find happens, is that a lot of businesses don’t realize that there are certain segments of their market or their community or certain demographics that they do most of their business in.

That’s step number one.

Focusing on the customer experience

Step number two is this idea of actually looking at those folks that refer you today.

What I found is your most profitable clients who also refer you, typically do so because they were the right fit, they had the right problem, they went after the right service, they really engaged and they allowed you to do the work that you knew you needed to do.

Consequently, they were profitable. They’re also referring you because they like you, they like doing business with you, and they like your people.

Typically if people have a great experience, they’re going to be more inclined to refer you.

What are the common characteristics of your most profitable clients who also refer you today?

What I want you to do is think about more narrowly defining who makes an ideal client for you based on that discovery, or based on the fact that you did some analysis on your current customers.

This doesn’t mean you’re never going to serve anybody else, but it does need to become the filter where you go out, and you start prospecting and where you change your messaging to attract that ideal client, client niche, or those industries that you specialize in.

Because there is a real practical reason for this, you’ve already decided, or determined that they make an ideal client based on profitability and referral, but there’s also an expectation, that once you start narrowly defining who makes an ideal client for you, you can then go to work on more narrowly defining what their problem is, and your promise to solve that problem.

Solving your ideal client’s problems

People aren’t looking for our products and services, they’re looking to get their problems solved. The person who can define the problem the best quite often is not only the one that gets the business but in many cases is paid a premium as well.

This is a very practical reason to narrowly define your ideal client.

The primary reason people don’t do it, is that they fear that they’re going to turn potential business away, and I get that in the beginning certainly, but over time, you’re going to discover that turning that business away is the most profitable thing that you can do.

Narrowly defining your ideal client

Defining your ideal client starts with things like:

  • Demographics
  • Businesses
  • If you’re working with individuals
  • Age

Those are the kinds of things that a lot of people go towards when it comes down to narrowly defining their audience. Those are important, but I want you to think about three specific categories.

In regards to your clients, you’re going to have must-have, nice-to-have, and ideal. Those are your three categories.

The Must-Have

In my case, my must-have is a client has to be a small business owner. You must have the budget to afford what you sell, or what, in my case, what I sell. You must have the decision-making ability.

From there you can get into breaking down the types of businesses, and other requirements that you put into the must-have category.

The Nice-To-Have

The next one is nice-to-have. Again, in my world, if a business owner has a marketing person internally, they may not be a strategic marketing person, but if they at least have somebody that is doing Facebook for them or doing the newsletter for them, that is a great nice-to-have, because I can actually add even more value by helping them manage that person. Once I get through the must-haves, then I start looking at nice-to-haves.

The Ideal-To-Have

Ideal starts to get into more of behavior. For example, the owner participates in their industry, they are active on their board, and they are very interested in having other outside professionals other than marketing.

If I’m starting to describe my ideal client, those are the things I want to break it up into. Those must-haves are deal breakers. If they don’t fit in the must-haves you don’t talk to them.

The nice-to-haves are the ones that you’re going to put in a little extra effort to try to build a relationship or to try to get in front of, and then if you’ve got some of the ideal-to-have, then that’s somebody you want to go and really prospect, and you want to focus a lot of time and attention on, and give them value over and above any of what you might see as your normal marketing, because that’s somebody that’s going to be an ideal client.

Once you have that ideal client, you could start to move all of your targeting to that. If you’re building Facebook audiences, you could move to that narrowly defined ideal client. All of your ads should be speaking to that ideal client.

It’s okay to have multiple ideal clients, but once you have those, they need to really be the basis for all of your language, all of your website copy, all of the ads, so that you are clearly articulating the problem that that ideal client has, and how you’re uniquely suited to solve that problem.

When you do that and when you make the basis that strategy of defining an ideal client the basis of all of your marketing, guess what?

You get to choose who you want to work with. That will make life a whole lot better.

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Understanding, Narrowing, and Choosing Your Ideal Client

Understanding, Narrowing, and Choosing Your Ideal Client written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

In marketing today it’s common to hear that you must know who your target audience is in order to be effective with your marketing. This mostly implies that you determine the makeup of a market that your business is most likely to attract.

What bothers me about this simple approach is that it has a lowest common denominator element to it – who can we attract?

Instead, I like to take the point of view of – whom do we deserve to work with?

This thought process led me to the idea of defining an ideal client which ties together both behavior and demographics. Identifying who this is from the beginning will save you tons of time going in circles trying to be all things to all people.

It really is a game changer and here’s how I recommend getting started.

Choosing your ideal client

Have you ever considered the following question? – What qualities would your ideal clients have? Thinking through this is quite a liberating feeling, no? Don’t you deserve to work with clients who appreciate the value you bring to them?

I know that might sound a bit egotistical, but it really isn’t. At the end of the day, if you want to work with the people you want, then you need to step up your game so that can deserve to do so.

I recommend getting started by exploring the types of clients you don’t want to work with. Until you know who you don’t want to work with, who you must work with, who you choose to work with, it’s easy to take work and clients that drag you away from the work you deserve to be doing (we’ve all been there and know what a headache it can be).

Who can you deliver the greatest value to, who do you enjoy working with, and who needs what you do most? Write a detailed description of your ideal client and include as much about them as possible including the problems they are trying to solve. Give some thought to how you might reach them and appeal to them. Use your best clients today to help you think about what makes them ideal for you. (Hint: they are profitable and perhaps they refer others to you right now.)

Consider following these steps to best identify them:

Step 1: What are the must-haves to be a client – this is stuff that naturally narrows your list – must be 18 years or older, must own a home – that kind of thing.

Step 2: What are the generally looked for attributes – no required, but preferred – perhaps it’s an age range, geographic location, or special interest.

Step 3: What makes them ideal – what are the attributes that make them your best prospects – perhaps they have a certain business model, unique problem, at a certain point in life or business.

Step 4: What behavior do they exhibit that allows you to identify them? Do they belong to industry associations, tend to sponsor charitable events, read certain publications?

I recommend starting with the smallest market possible. You must find a group of clients who think what you have to offer is special and can scale from there.

How to understand and speak to your ideal client

Now that you’ve narrowly defined who your ideal client is, you must spend ample amount of time understanding them in order to properly use them across the various strategic elements of your business. Knowing who makes an ideal client allows you to build your entire business, message, product, services, sales and support around attracting and serving this narrowly defined group.

Once you dig deep and profile the common characteristics you should also start asking yourself some questions about these folks.

  • What brings them joy?
  • What are they worried about?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • What do they hope to gain from us?
  • What goals are they striving to attain?
  • What experience thrills them?
  • Where do they get their information?
  • Who do they trust most?

Having answers to the questions will allow you to more fully address their wants and needs in every interaction and communication. Once you have this understanding, you can start tailoring your efforts to best speak to them.

Refocus your message

Matching your message to your ideal client is a must when it comes to marketing these days. A message that connects is one that clearly talks about what your ideal client wants more than anything else in the world – which is to solve their problems.

You must let them know that you understand what they really want. Let me let you in on a little secret: Nobody really wants what you sell – they want their problems solved – period.

I recommend making a list of the problems you solve for the clients you help the most. If you’re having trouble thinking about your client’s problems, think a bit about the things they tell you.

For example, a lot of our prospective clients might say things like – we just want the phone to ring more, so that’s what we tell them we can do for them (we don’t immediately dive into our SEO and marketing services).

That’s how you refocus your message so that it’s all about your amazing clients and the problems they want to be solved.

Create trigger phrases

Your clients don’t know how to solve their problems, but they usually know what their problems are. If you can get really good at demonstrating that what you sell is the answer to their problem they really don’t care what you call it.

Break down every solution you sell and every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”

These phrases can be questions or statements or even anecdotes, but they must come from the point of view of the client.

Write website headlines

What we mean by this is write a big, bold statement that might be the first thing anyone who visits your website will see. Now ask yourself – would this statement get your ideal client’s attention more than something like “welcome to our website?”

Want some help creating your new message? Pick out a handful of your ideal clients and go ask them – what problem did we solve for you? Test your headlines with them. Ask them to describe what you do better than anyone else.

Pro tip: If your business receives online reviews study them carefully. While it’s awesome to get 5-star reviews pay close attention to the words and common phrases your happiest clients are using – they will write your promise for you in some cases.

Until you are working towards defining, understanding and speaking to who you truly deserve to be working with, success will elude you. I can tell you that my experience suggests that you’re never really done with this exercise. As your business evolves, as you learn and grow, this model will evolve as well, but perhaps the continual process of discovery is just as important as what you discover.

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