No matter how appealing your product design or how optimized your website, your business is likely to fail if you can’t identify your ideal client. Period. Targeting customers who won’t make repeat purchases spins your wheels and gets you nowhere. Defining your ideal client puts every dollar of your branding and marketing strategy to good use — and helps you earn the revenue you deserve.
Why you MUST have an ideal client
Developing an engaging piece of content like a landing page requires time, strategic planning, and money. But the average user will spend around 15 seconds looking at a web page, no matter how well crafted.
If you had only 30 seconds to pitch a potential client, which one would you pick?
A) A user with problems that align with your company’s purpose and wants to learn more about how your company’s services can create pathways to success
B) A user with goals, beliefs, and pain points that fall almost or entirely outside of your wheelhouse
Even if you live for a good challenge, you probably chose the first user. Time is money, no matter your industry. Pushing products and services to a user who may not buy them (or expect them for less!) harms your business.
Your ideal client is also key to powerful forms of advertising and marketing. Revenue generators like social selling and Instagram funnel marketing don’t work unless you know who needs your business and why.
But first…know your company’s vision and purpose
If you’re struggling to determine who needs your services, check back in with your brand values, vision, and purpose. 99% of the time, failing to make sales is a branding issue, not a marketing or advertising fail.
Not knowing the “Why?” behind your work and the impact you want to make puts you in a nebulous place. You create noteworthy products, but they end up in the wrong hands — or in the trash. You develop outstanding content, but if the best users for your business aren’t clicking then you fail to maximize your budget.
Developing a vision to complement your company’s purpose allows you to excel in your niche. While you might think casting a wide net reels in more customers, it’s essential to have a solid idea of what you want to accomplish and who stands to benefit from your work from day one. The story of Mad Hippie‘s wild success is a great example of how purpose and vision combined attract loyal clients.
Mad Hippie knew they wanted to sell makeup to health-conscious, environmentally aware consumers (their purpose). They built their brand around a Skin Care Philosophy that states every makeup user deserves to look beautiful with all-natural cosmetics. Their vision is woven into their mission statement: To help clients achieve perfect skin “while we work together towards a healthier, more beautiful planet.” They speak to their clients’ personality traits and their brand goals by using low-waste packaging and earthy imagery.
Mad Hippie is worth around $30 million. Finding your niche makes a world of difference, especially in a highly saturated market like the cosmetics industry. Don’t be afraid to get specific with the following strategies.
The 6-Step Solution to Finding and Attracting Your Ideal Client
1) What are your ideal client’s beliefs and motivations — and do they mirror yours?
It’s essential for a business in any stage to determine if their ideal client supports their brand values and personal ideals. Be honest with yourself: Would you or do you relate well one-to-one with your ideal client? Is it a pleasure to answer queries or a pain?
Having an ideal client that reflects industry trends isn’t a bad thing on its own. It only becomes an issue if you focus all of your attention on who will buy something from you vs. who you want to serve. For example, digital marketing for social media influencers is a big business. But if you’re indifferent toward influencer culture, your ‘ideal client’ may become your worst nightmare, even if they pay you well. You may end up feeling passionless and disengaged from your work — even though you probably started your business to have more joy and flexibility in life.
2) Narrow your focus with an Ideal Client Avatar (ICA)
Your ideal client avatar (ICA) helps you determine where to find your client and how to reach them. We recommend searching websites with free images, such as Unsplash.com or Pexels.com, to help your ICA come to life. You might even name them.
Elements of a cohesive ICA include:
Demographics (hard data)
- Geographic location
- Languages spoken fluently
- Place of birth
- Marital status
- Household income
- Industry/job title
- (Don’t forget to factor in their level of experience)
- Political affiliation
- Religion/spiritual beliefs
Psychographics (values and traits)
- Rents vs. owns a home
- Drives a car vs. uses public transportation
- Parent (and the ages of their children) vs. child-free
- Favorite brands and influencers
- Preferred stores and websites to shop
- Goes to the gym, at-home fitness fan, or sedentary
- Follows a strict diet vs. wants a simple wellness routine
- Where they spend their weekends
- The social media platforms they frequent
- Their spending behaviors
- Authors and magazines on their bookshelf
- Frequent flyer vs. homebody
- Long commute vs. WFH
- Modernist vs. traditionalist
Psychographics help you locate one ideal client from the demographic data, and they can be tailored to your niche. For instance, if your business targets parents of elementary schoolers, factor in how your ideal client interacts with the education system. Do their children use after school services or do they need help with after school care? Do they socialize with other parents and volunteer at their children’s school?
You know that your ICA profile works if it aligns with your business. In a T-chart, list the data from your ICA profile, paying special attention to the psychographic data. Use the other half of the chart to list your company’s goals, values, and beliefs. How closely do both sides complement each other? Aim for a 80%+ match.
3) What are their challenges and how can you solve them?
Every client has a problem that demands a solution. You might think that you have your ideal client pinned down — until you realize that your products and services don’t add enough value to their lives.
Hypothesize as many problems as possible unique to your ideal client. Narrow down your list to the problem that your company is most equipped to solve. Think carefully about what’s at stake for your client and how you can remind them of what they stand to lose.
Don’t be discouraged by comparing yourself to your competitors or who does it better. If you approach a universal problem from a unique angle, you can easily magnetize the right clients. In fact, your customers will have a greater interest in your services vs. larger brands offering generic solutions. This is where the power of niche marketing comes into play.
4) Find a compelling reason why they need your company
It’s time to Shark Tank your business. In a paragraph or two, write down a winning argument to convince your ideal client to choose your products or services. Your argument should touch on…
- Why your product/service is a must-buy for your ideal client
- How your product/service can remedy their pain points in ways that another product/service can’t
- The short- and long-term benefits of using your product/service
- The ways your product/service can help your ideal client reach their big goals
5) Interact with your ideal client on social media
After you determine who your ideal client is and why your business can support them, the next step is throwing the bait. Before you work with a lead generation service, you can save big by using social selling. There are two factors that distinguish social selling from other digital networking strategies:
1) It’s not a more targeted social media advertising campaign
2) You don’t promote your products or services on your social media feeds
To social sell, focus your attention on establishing trust through direct, organic interaction. It’s that simple.
Referencing data from your ICA profile, follow your ideal client on their favorite social media platforms. For example, if your ideal client is a female entrepreneur in her 40s-50s, join women’s entrepreneurship groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Next, evaluate before you interact. Track daily conversations in your ideal client’s social media groups. Note the content they share and how they discuss their goals and pain points.
The final step is key to social selling: promote yourself by jumping into the conversation. If you provide value input to your ideal client’s questions (even if they’re unrelated to your work), you build trust. You encourage your ideal client to scope out your profile and explore your services. You show that you care.
According to an Adobe research study, more people buy from brands that prioritize their wellbeing vs. pushing for the sale. That’s why social selling is so effective — friendly engagement compels your ideal client to make a purchase on their own.
6) Tap your current clients for valuable information
No matter how long you’ve been in business, you should evaluate how well your ICA fits with your business every few years. Determining if your ideal client is a good match is even more important if you’re introducing a high value product or making another significant change in your organization.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to current and former clients for feedback. Ask them why they chose your business over your competitors. If you hear that your products or services were appealing for their affordability, consider increasing your prices. Remember: If your rates are too low, you’re likely repelling high value customers.
If you’ve hit a slump and you’re not satisfied with your work, think about a client that sparked your enthusiasm and affirmed your worth (hint: they paid you fairly, and maybe even endorsed your skills and left a notable review). Why did working with this person ignite your passion? Look no further for your ideal client.
Need more tips to refine your niche and develop an ICA? Submit your questions to our Peerless Brand Builders community and receive feedback from Lorraine and rising entrepreneurs.