Do you have one person that you are talking to on your website? You know who I’m talking about, the “Ideal Client”. No? Are you defining your perfect client to be your favorite client? Read on to see how I finally made this happen.
Years ago I attended a seminar by Beth Caldwell of Pittsburgh Professional Women titled “Million Dollar Marketing Makeover”, which included exercises to find your ideal client and target market. That was 2009 (at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey)!
Before I walked into the seminar, I thought I knew my ideal client. However, after completing the exercise and sharing information with the group, I realized that I did not have a defined target market and, therefore, had a weak marketing plan. I DID know that I had to give them a name and personalize them, though.
Fast forward a few years and that elusive ideal client was still not defined and pinpointed. I was on a call with Suzanne Evans of Hell Yeah Marketing who said it takes working with 100 clients to find your true ideal client. And it hit me. I was trying to find who I liked to work with the best outside of who I was actually working with.
So I did what I do best and removed myself from the box. You know, the one we put ourselves into by listening to ALL of the experts and everyone else.
You see, Beth showed me the questions to ask, and Suzanne showed me the places to look, so I had a pretty good layout of the groundwork. Now it was time to apply it to MY people.
We all know there are clients we hate working with, sometimes because they are not a good fit and other times because they suck the life right out of you. On the flip side, there are clients we wish we could clone and use that mold in each and every inquiry!
That’s where we start – our love/hate list.
Action One: Look at who you’ve worked with
Now before you say, ‘ooh I’m just starting out I don’t have a list,’ look at people you’ve worked within your job, your volunteer hours, your kid’s school, your neighbor. You need to look at who irritates the crap out of you and who you could hang with for hours.
Check, that list completed! Now it was time to move onto asking the defining questions. So I pulled out that handy list of where they worked, vacationed, what they read and their favorite color.
And it hit me; I don’t care about this. What the hell does their vacation have to do with their website? I was applying the B2C questions to my B2B audience. Basically, I was looking for love in all the wrong places.
Now it was time to redefine the questions.
Action Two: What qualities do I want an ideal client to have
I’ve worked with people on limited budgets and no budgets. I’ve worked with moms, dads, grandmas, single ladies, married men. They vacation and they don’t, they spend their time on the beach, at the tee-ball game, and on porchville.
That information did not help me with what mattered to my ideal client. What I wanted to know was, would they respect my boundaries? Do they understand that being a business owner means you don’t need to work 24/7? Are they open to new ideas and ways of doing things?
[bctt tweet=”Instead of asking the questions about things that are important to your people, start with things that are important to YOU.” username=”leedrozak”] I know we’re talking about meeting their needs, but if you don’t meet yours first, you’ll grow to hate them. Trust me on this one.
Doing those two, small steps, sure cleared a lot of people from my list! But it also opened the door for so much more This allowed me the chance to look in all the right places to find new connections and people who would be the bomb.
It was time to build new relationships.
Action Three: Go where your people are and continue to refine.
It’s not enough to have the outline of your ideal client and what qualities they should possess. You need to know if you will really like them! Because people in the virtual world look great on the outside but how are they on the inside?
This is the step where you look to answer the other set of questions. What are their needs and am I the one to fill them?
This action step does take you doing the work and can take some time. You need to learn about them, like finding out what irritates them, keeps them up at night, makes them rant or rave. [bctt tweet=”Refining your ideal client profile means you need to know if they have the problems for your solutions.” username=”leedrozak”]
But here’s the great part… as you’re refining, you’re also getting the words they use, the phrases they connect with and the frustrations they have. Which in turn, allows you to talk directly to them.
Now you have the three (sometimes) simple actions to take in defining your ideal client. So what do you do with that?
You use that to write your copy, create your images, and refine your website. Because here it comes, wait for it…YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS. It’s about your ideal client and THEIR needs and wants! You need to know how to talk to them and hit on what makes life a little easier in the long run, by looking through the lens on their side.
You also need to stay sane and the fine line between your ideal client is what qualities you want in your partnerships and what problem solutions you bring to the table.
Stop defining your ideal client by what they buy; if your stuff is that good they will invest in it! Or, where they vacation because they might have just been forced there by the family. Start looking at qualities that are important like problems that need to be solved or outcomes they are trying to achieve.
Does this change the way you look at your ideal client?
I was on the phone with my coach discussing why I cannot seem to get my messaging and marketing down pat. Having been stuck for a long time, I just couldn't figure out how to get to point B.
Then she said something that made me stop. She told me to get it out there, and maybe my obstacles will be your inspiration. Put it out for everyone to see and tell them how I am feeling. Don’t be apologetic; be who I am.
Low and behold, the light bulb went off between our conversation, a blog post she recently wrote, and what I know to be right for me. I have a story. We all have stories, but most times, we don’t share them. I reasoned that if I start to share my stories with you, then I have to open up the curtain. Not that I have a problem with that personally, but in my business – are you kidding me?
Thinking back to a conference I attended recently, I kept getting the same feedback from the ladies who I knew virtually but was meeting in real life for the first time. I was surprised by the many times I was told how different I seemed online as opposed to off. Online I'm so reserved and practiced where offline I am kicked back relaxed.
Are you being real?
I'll start by sharing a few crucial pieces of me, so you get the big picture.
- I am a recovering perfectionist. No one does it as well as I do, right?
- I accept people for who they are, warts and all. I don’t care if you are CEO of a Fortune 500 or custodian of that same company.
- I find the fun in everything. If there is none, then I create some (within reason, of course).
- I am ADD. Some call me bossy, driven, or as Gram used to say, “full of piss and vinegar.”
- I hate texting and instant message. I like to have a conversation. I think you get so much more from talking than typing.
- I'm a digital tech geek, but love being offline to get some sanity back.
So the fact that I know who I am and that I'm comfortable in my skin has me wondering: why am I so freaking stuck? It is because I continue to listen to what other “experts” say I should be doing and talking about instead of following my heart and doing what part of me is?
Why is being myself online so damn hard? Why am I so afraid to show you just who I am? I often wonder if I'm afraid it will narrow down my client base or maybe put me into a box as far as the services I offer. But isn't that the whole idea? To work with people who get you and hold similar values. And let the rest do somewhere else.
Now that you know the truth I'll share where I go from here.
- I am still a recovering perfectionist but will continue to get the help I need in the areas that I need them. Go, team!
- I'll continue to welcome everyone into my circle, although I do have some boundaries when it comes to specific topics.
- I'll keep a light tone to my content, message, and what I share. Not always, but most times.
- I'll accept my ADD, and as I figure out how to rein it in, I'll share with you so you too can make it your superpower.
- I'll embrace speech-to-text so that I can get my stories out and find new ways to put words to paper. I will also embrace video, not because it's the hot thing to do, but because it is another way not to have to type.
- I'll continue to learn about new technologies and changes to existing applications, so you don't have to.
It's all about sharing the stories. I think by peeling back the layers of stuffiness that I've built into my online persona you'll see that I struggle just like you. Maybe my “holy crap, what was I thinking?!” moments will help you to find your clarity too.
I'm not sure what happens after this, but I do know that I'm going to just do it. Just be. Do what works best for me and enjoy the ride.
Are you stuck like me trying to be a business persona – one who doesn't jive with who you really are? Let's talk about it in the comments below.Keep reading...