When you begin to market your business, you need to focus on reaching one single client – only one. Sure, one solitary customer won’t be paying all of your bills (and vacation fund – wink wink) but knowing exactly who you’re marketing to and tailoring every single message to that very specific person will give your marketing direction and cohesion and help you to position yourself as the expert to the people who need to hear you.
The biggest objection I hear when I say that my clients need to find their one ideal customer is that there isn’t just a single person that can benefit from your services; everyone needs your services! Does that feel familiar?
I used to be just like you in that I wished my services were for everyone. After all, every business owner needs great copy, and why shouldn’t I be the one to provide it?
But there’s something magical in realizing who you’re really in business to help. And the truth is, not everyone is your ideal client.
Personally, as much as I’d love to help every business who asks, I don’t feel energized and excited about working for people in every industry. I do feel amazing when I work with authors, coaches, and speakers, though – that’s where my passion shines through.
Most business owners have this one particular client that is just perfect for them, too. Whether you imagine yourself working with single mothers or have a heart for helping young men, there’s a special kind of client waiting for those things that only you can provide.
At least, that’s true for some people. Some of us just know, whether from the start or from experience, exactly who it is that we desperately want to work with.
If you don’t? That’s okay, because there are ways to find out through considering your strengths as an entrepreneur, your product, and the problem that your business solves for your customers.
The process of discovering your ideal client takes some thinking, but once you know exactly who your business serves, reaching that client becomes so much easier. Here are some things to consider as you narrow down your ideal client.
Who Are You?
That’s definitely not meant to sound like a judgment. But as the ancient Greeks said, “Know thyself,” and that’s exactly what you need to do as a business owner.
Specifically, you need to know exactly what it is you do in just a few words. That can be as simple as “I teach kindergarteners,” or “I provide lawn care services.” We’ll narrow down later, so just start with knowing what it is you do day in and day out.
Once you can succinctly state what it is that you do, imagine yourself doing that in the perfect scenario. Who are you working with? How do you feel working with that person? Excited, energized, and enthusiastic? Or bored and frustrated? Who would you most prefer working with?
Flip that around and think about your business from your clients’ points of view. How do they feel about working with you?
What problems are you solving for them and how do you make their lives better? What makes you the best choice to solve their problems? What sets you apart from other companies who could also solve their problems?
Let’s run through an example.
Let’s say you crochet hats. That’s a high-level view of your business. You’ve sold in the past to anyone who will buy from you, because that’s the point of business – to make sales.
When you close your eyes and daydream about your business, though, what you really picture is a snowboarder, competing in the national championships, wearing your hat on the slopes.
At the end of the competition, the snowboarder is interviewed on live TV, grinning with your hat on their head, and a picture of the interview ends up in Snowboarder Magazine.
You feel okay crocheting for moms at the local schools, but it definitely doesn’t light your soul on fire. The moms you crochet for LOVE your work, but maybe they don’t value it as much as you wish they would.
You might not even be the best company to solve their “cold-head” problems, because they can also: buy hats from other companies, stay inside if it’s cold, or wear ear warmers.
I think you can see that you’re not working with your ideal client. Maybe professional snowboarders wouldn’t appreciate your craft either, but it’s much more likely that they could appreciate a quality product that helps them fulfill their passions every day.
If you can crochet a hat that stays on perfectly even through twists and turns and keeps a snowboarder warm and comfortable, I’d say there’s a great possibility that professional snowboarders are your ideal client.
What Are Your Business Goals?
Running a successful business is a mutually-beneficial partnership between you and your clients: you are solving their problems and helping to improve their lives, and they should be helping you to reach your goals in the process.
Setting your business goals is an immensely personal task.
Your goals could be a sales or income number, the number of clients you want to work with monthly or yearly, or any number of objectives.
The key to setting realistic goals is that they are both objective and measurable, meaning anyone who looks at your business would be able to tell if you have met your goals.
Once you know what your goals are, it’s easier to tell if your current customers are able to help you reach those goals, and which customers would be able to help you meet them.
For example, if you want to make $10,000 a month and work with five or six clients, you know that you need to be charging each client between $1,700 and $2,000 to work with you.
Examining your client base, you should be able to determine if the clients you’re reaching are able to afford those prices, if they value your services enough to pay those prices, or even if those prices are far under what they should be for their value.
Knowing your business goals helps you to determine the clients that you should be working with, from their occupation and income level to their interests.
Do Some Research
As a business owner, you’re probably never going to stop researching, so you may as well learn how to do it well now.
In the process of determining your ideal client, you need to research the heck out of the industry you’re working in, including the client base who makes purchases in the industry and their demographic information, possible competitors, industry trends, and upcoming innovations.
You could probably fill a notebook with all of the information you’ll uncover. (If that’s true, keep digging – you should be able to fill TWO!)
It’s important to have a solid understanding of the industry you’re working in, though, both on the back end of your business and on the customer-facing side of business.
On the back end, you need to understand everything about how your industry works so that you know what to expect, how to market, who you’re likely to work with, and more. For customers, you need to show that you’re the expert – the one they need to come to with their problems.
As you’re researching, you will probably get some statistics about how much others charge for similar services, what the total revenue is in the industry, and average salaries for people providing similar services for a large company.
These can all give you an idea of what income goals you should be setting, which can inform what you should be charging for services. From there, you can better tell who is in the perfect financial position to pay for your services.
By now, you should have a good idea of your ideal client, so it’s time to get specific.
To really narrow down your ideal client, you need to build a full profile of the client and be very detailed in the process. Not only should you know these details, you should be able to articulate them in writing.
What we’re talking about when we get this specific is known as a buyer’s persona. For your buyer’s persona, you’ll create an “imaginary” customer, complete with a picture and a name.
Here’s the information you should be able to create:
- Gender Identity
- Housing Status
- Marital Status
- Parent Status
- Long-Term Goals
After you figure out these minimum bits of information, you’ll need to flesh out the buyer’s persona even more where it concerns your products and services.
To this end, you’ll need to decide:
- What’s your customer’s biggest frustration?
- Why is it frustrating?
- What solutions have they tried in the past?
- Why did they work, and why didn’t they work?
- How would your customer’s life be improved with your product?
- How would your customer feel with your product in their life?
- Who else around your customer would benefit from using your product?
You could also check out this really awesome tool from Hubspot that helps you create and name a buyer’s persona for your business.
Take a look at this article for some examples of buyer personas. I’ve pulled one from the site, called “Rachael, the Stay at Home Mum.”
While this doesn’t give all of the information I listed earlier, it is comprehensive and has all of the information that is needed for the company who is using it.
I’ll be honest with you – some people think buyer personas are overrated and outdated. While these people may have a point (maybe) I find so much value in buyer personas for my own business, and I’ve worked with dozens of clients who say the same, that I recommend them for every entrepreneur.
Having a specific person to target in your business helps you to stay focused and certain in your communications, both in marketing and customer service.
The ultimate benefit of using a buyer persona is that, by imagining that you are speaking to one person, your communications are stronger and more authoritative.
Your marketing hits harder and sales increase because your message is clear.
Plus, you reach the people you need to reach because you’re advertising in the right places, both online and offline.
Once you realize who your ideal client is, you bring new energy and passion into the business, because both you and your customer are secure in knowing that you’re in the right relationship to achieve both of your goals. And that is magical.
If you want to talk more about how you can narrow down your ideal client… let’s chat. We’ll brainstorm, come up with some ideas, and I’ll share how I can help you make it happen.