In the A-Z of Marketing – I is for Ideal Clients

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In the A-Z of Marketing – I is for Ideal Clients

“How’s business?” I asked the website designer I was chatting to at the networking meeting.

“Not bad,” he replied “But we could do with some more clients.”

“What sort of clients are you looking for?” I enquired. “Who could I introduce you to?”

“We’d like to work with some international corporates,” he told me.

“What do you mean by that exactly?” I asked. A sensible question, I thought, but he looked at me as if I had asked him to explain quantum physics in words of one syllable, in French! He sat and thought about this for a while and couldn’t actually come up with an example of an ‘international corporate’ that he would like to work with.

This probably explains why he doesn’t have enough work – because he can’t easily describe the exact type of clients that he wants to work with. When you have a clear picture of your ideal clients, other people will find it much easier to recommend them to you. Your marketing messages will be much clearer and your ideal clients will find it much easier to identify themselves as your perfect clients.

So how do you identify your ideal clients?

There are number of ways in which you can do this. Here are my favourite three:

  1. Type of business. You could look for businesses in a certain industry. At Appletree we have been working with Coaches and Consultants for many years. We work with other business types – not many, but a few – as we prefer working with small service businesses. We’ve come to learn a lot about coaching and consulting businesses, which makes it easier for us to help them. I’ve even been on some coaching courses (and I’ve been coached quite a lot over the years) as this helps me to understand our clients and the issues they face when running and promoting their business.

What business types have you worked with a lot, or would you like to work with?

  1. The problems. Another way to identify your ideal clients is based on the problems that they face. What issues do they struggle with, that you can help them to solve? Many of our clients, despite being extremely good at what they do, are nervous about blowing their own trumpets and telling the world how good they are. So we do it for them! We show them what marketing will be the most effective for them and help them to talk about what they do.

What are the main problems that you can solve for your clients?

  1. Their values. It’s much easier to work with people with whom you have something in common. When you’re clear on what your values are – what’s important to you and what drives you – it’s so much easier to work with people who are similar to you. Like attracts like, so when you know what makes you tick you’ll be able to attract other people who ‘get’ you and your way of working. I am very driven and have a lot of positive bounce. This means that most of the clients I work with are also keen to succeed; they are very positive people, no matter what they might be going through. Working with clients who share your values will help you to achieve the best results.

What are your values? What drives you? Where can you find people who share your values?

When you run your own business, if you try to promote your services to everyone, you will find it difficult to attract the best, ideal clients. You need to get used to turning away work and potential clients that aren’t perfect. Instead, get really clear on the types of businesses or people that you want to work with, and the issues that you want to help them with. When you can focus on a specific business or personality type, or business challenge, you will start to be seen as an expert in that field. Potential clients will seek you out and you’ll receive recommendations to ideal clients, which makes your marketing much easier and more cost effective.

If you’re still not sure how to find your ideal clients, there’s a great book that you can read, called Attracting Perfect Customers by Stacey Hall and Jan Brogniez. I’ve been using their four-stage process for over 10 years to help the owners of small businesses to do just that. It’s a really clever process, so either read the book yourself, or let me know if you’d like me to take you through the process, so that you can start attracting plenty of new clients.

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