An ideal client is a person or a company whose needs and wants are met by the products and services you are offering. If you can define your ideal client, you will have a more focused or targeted approach to building your business. Your products, services, operational framework, customer support and marketing strategies will be aligned toward servicing a specifically targeted group of customers.
Why is this important in business? Because the needs, wants, concerns, tastes, and preferences of clients are different; they are highly individualized to meet specific goals and objectives.
If you decided to fish in a part of the ocean which brings in several fishing boats, your bait may not catch anything. However, if you can find a place in the ocean where the type of fish is attracted to your bait, you’ll go home with a large haul every time.
Keep in mind, there is not a single thing on this Earth where you can absolutely say with 100% certainty that everyone likes.
Not everyone likes holidays; for some, it is the most stressful time of the year. Not everyone likes to take vacations; some believe there are better ways to spend money. Not everyone likes cats despite the popularity of cat videos.
Even the number one chain of hamburgers has its share of detractors. Coffee shops may be sprouting everywhere, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. Leggings may be the current trend, but not everyone will look good in them.
The bottom-line is that if you apply a “one size fits all” strategy to build your business, you will get overwhelmed by your competition. You will end up spending time, money and energy promoting your business to everyone and yet be seen by no one.
Instead, you should focus on defining your ideal client. Knowing who your ideal client is will help your business achieve long-term success by establishing strong, sustainable relationships that are built on trust, mutually-beneficial goals, and objectives.
Here Are 5 Easy Steps To Define Your Ideal Client
- Define Your Purpose
“Ben and Jerry’s” started out as selling organic, homemade ice cream from a newly-renovated gas station in Vermont. Within a few years, “Ben and Jerry’s” became big enough to challenge more established brands such as “Haagen Dazs”.
Even though they couldn’t afford medical school, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield didn’t set up an ice cream business to make money. “Ben and Jerry’s” was their way to highlight the quality of dairy products coming from Vermont.
The first step in defining your ideal client starts with you and that means identifying your purpose:
Why did you start this type of business?
Businesses that state their purpose is “to make money”, will not find their ideal client. Unless you are a non-profit organization, then it goes without saying that you are in business to make money.
Determining your purpose will help you differentiate your product. It will guide you in identifying the market segment you wish to target for your products and services.
In the case of “Ben and Jerry’s”, their purpose resonated with customers who appreciated ice cream that was made without processed ingredients and a company that promoted sustainability.
Cohen and Greenfield remained persistent with their green advocacy even during difficult times and after being bought out by Unilever.
A study by Nobel Prize winning Psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman showed that consumers tend to patronize businesses and brands whose values are aligned with theirs.
Once you find your purpose, you have to stay true to it. Purpose is a function of your set of non-negotiable core values. That means you will never compromise your purpose under any situation.
A business is defined as a “living, breathing entity”. You are the business. Your values should be reflected by its purpose. Consumers will define you by what they believe your values are. You have to stay true to “Who” you are and it starts with the “Why” or the purpose of your business.
- Get To Know Your Client
There could be several reasons why a client would choose your business over a competitor. Maybe your pricing was more attractive. Perhaps it was word-of-mouth. It could also be due to the types of content you publish on social media.
Regardless of the reason or reasons, whenever a prospect becomes a paying client, it represents the start of a relationship. You should now focus on building a key quality of every strong relationship: Loyalty.
A client who is loyal to your business will remain with you for the long-term. Imagine if you had more loyal clients? How far will they take your business?
This is why it is very important to develop an understanding of who your ideal clients are:
- Identify the Key Demographics
- Where do they come from?
- How did they come across or learn of your business?
- What are the age, gender, educational and occupational categories that comprise the majority of my clients?
- Determine Their Purchasing Behaviour
- How often does my ideal client purchase my products and services?
- How much does he/she spend per purchase?
- What is my ideal client’s preferred mode of payment?
- Define the Specific Benefits They Are Seeking
- Of all the features of my products and services, which one(s) benefits my ideal client the most?
- How do my products and services address the needs of my clients?
- Which product or service feature is responsible for bringing in the highest number of clients?
- Create Your Buyer’s or Client’s Profile
According to the 2018 Marketing Agency Growth Report, 60% of companies have a hard time finding new clients while 16% have problems retaining them.
A key factor to these problems lies in another telling statistic: 23% of businesses fail to meet clients’ goals and objectives.
In our previous two steps, we discussed the importance of understanding your business (purpose) and your clients (needs). Having a firm grasp of who your business and clients are will help establish effective strategies for your company.
This brings us to a very important component of targeted marketing strategy: The Client’s Profile.
The information you’ve gained from the first two steps will help you create an accurate profile of your client. The profile will become the basis of your business development framework.
It will be used as the main reference point for determining your operational processes, pricing points, marketing strategies and customer support channels among others.
Here are 3 steps to make a Client Profile:
- Start Out With a Small Group
- Identify a group of clients that has accounted for the largest percentage of your profits.
- Scale the group down further by identifying the clients that have been with you the longest.
- Make sure the clients in the group pay you on time and have no delinquent accounts.
- Engage Your Clients
- Invite them for a meeting.
- Email client surveys.
- Set up an outbound group to conduct a phone survey with your clients.
- Create the Client Profile
The standard format for a Client Profile should include the following details:
- Personal Information
- Key Demographics
- Identifiable Personality Traits
- Goals/ Objectives
- Issues/ Concerns
- Criticisms on Products and Services
- Preferred Mode of Payment
- Study Your Competitors
It’s good to have another perspective from which to evaluate your business plans. Your competitors can become valuable resources because you can find out the reasons why their clients chose their business over yours:
- What products and services do they offer?
- Who buys or patronizes their products and services?
- How different are their products and services from mine?
- How are they performing in the industry?
- What are their strategies for attracting clients?
Competitor analysis is an effective way of determining comparative advantage. Before the age of the Internet, companies sent spies to work for the competitor so they can get their trade secrets.
While some companies may still resort to such techniques, these are no longer necessary. You can simply check their social media accounts, study the content they publish, visit their websites or engage their customers on why they like the products and services.
- Define Your Products And Services Based On Client’s Needs
Have you identified your Branded Value Proposition (BVP)? This is the statement that summarizes the overall value of your product or service to your client.
The BVP will not just be represented in all types of marketing copy. It will be used as your guide when improving existing products and services as well as developing new ones:
- What makes your product or service better than the competition?
- Why should a prospect choose your business over a competitor?
- How does my business address the needs, wants and concerns of my target market?
Keep in mind that you are in the business of addressing the needs and concerns of your ideal client. Your business offers solutions to pressing issues and concerns.
There will always be competitors in the same market segment. Your goal is to consistently provide the best option in the industry. Do not give your clients a reason to choose a competitor over you.
In order to succeed, your business must always be in a state of constant evolution. This means you have to stay updated on developments in your industry. Client demand, tastes, and preferences are influenced by factors that direct industry trends.
For example, in real estate, demand can be affected by social factors, interest rates, the level of foreign investment, local legislation, and economic factors such as employment and inter-state migration.
These conditions can affect the information you’ve gathered on your ideal clients, influence the direction of your company goals and require a change in your mix of products and services.
Therefore, your business model should never remain passive. It must be revised to reflect changes in your ideal clients. The demographics that make up your ideal client today may be different within a few months or a year.