No one loves getting the wrong kinds of clients. But pretty much everyone resists the idea of choosing the ones they actually want. Yes, you’ve heard a thousand times that you need to identify your ideal client. It’s the only way to being able to consistently find him or her online or in real life. And more important, it’s the only way to know what to say when you do find him or her. Intellectually, we all know this makes so much sense. So why does everyone hate doing it?
We don’t want to leave anyone out. “But everyone needs what I do!” Boy, does my heart sink when a client says (or more likely whines) that phrase. While it may be true (often it isn’t) most of the time there really are certain specific types of people who would benefit most, are seeking help, have the ability to pay you, AND whom you would actually enjoy having as clients. Why not start with those people?
We are secretly afraid we won’t have enough business. Guess what? In today’s connected world, it’s virtually impossible to be niche-y or geeky enough to target a market that would not contain enough clients to keep you booked solid for several lifetimes. Vegan stay-at-home moms who life to craft? City-dwelling Rottweiler owners? Divorce lawyers who specialize in same-sex marriages? The danger is not in being too narrow, it’s in being too broad.
We’re afraid of commitment. Doing this exercise suddenly makes us feel like a confirmed bachelor with a peck of wild oats to sow. What, work with only one kind of person for the rest of my life? The monotony! The confinement! Relax, no one says you can’t take other business, only that you’re not actively seeking it. There’s also no law that says you can’t expand or change your target market if you discover one you like better. Plus, if you only worked with people you absolutely love and who love you, do you really think you’d be bored?
Trouble is, even when you accept the challenge of identifying your ideal client, the results are often uninspiring…which leads to doubt and second-guessing…which leads to confusion… and then you are right back where you started. (Sound familiar?)
Here are a few tips to help get around that, and make your ideal client a real, fascinating, flesh-and-blood person to you.
- Don’t stop at demographics. It’s a great start to know the gender, age, profession and income level of your target market, but that still leaves a ton of unknowns and that’s why she feels unreal to you. Drill down into things like values. Does she care more about family or adventure? What about interests and worldview? Does she read Oprah, or Shape, or Inc.?
- Get inside her head. This is one of my favorite parts of my Ideal Client Cartoon Profile process. I draw voice balloons and thought balloons around the head of our subject. What does the person you are talking to say about her current situation, and what is she really thinking that she is NOT saying? Why? What other secrets is she keeping? What does she say and think about herself?
- Get another perspective. You may be a bit too close to the situation and are missing the forest for the trees, where the person you are meant to serve can be crystal clear to someone else. That’s the experience I often have with clients who take me up on my Ideal Client Cartoon Profile process. When I reflect back to them who I see them working with, and what their biggest issues are, their eyes light up and they suddenly “get it.” We capture it all on a big poster and they’re clearer and more energized than they’ve ever been about the person they are marketing to. They’re even excited to write their copy and have discovery calls!
If you’ve been stuck on your ideal client for a while, and it’s been holding you back from the clarity, confidence and clients you deserve, I invite you to try one of these fun and totally transformational sessions. Click here!