Want to know the first step to a stellar marketing strategy?
I have a question for you: Who’s your ideal client?
The one you’d love to work with.
Who loves what you do almost more than you do.
Who’ll shout from the rooftops about how awesome you are.
Who’s first to read/sign up/buy whenever you release something new.
Are you picturing them in your head right now?
If not, you need to do some digging into this mythical (or not so mythical) person, because getting super, crystal clear on this point is the difference between brand gold and bland boredom.
You can’t market to everyone. Sorry.
So if I ask who your target audience is and you’re tempted to answer “women aged 25-50″… STOP!
How many women do you know aged 25-50? None. They don’t exist. So how could you possibly speak to them?
Identifying your ideal client doesn’t mean that you abandon everyone else. It doesn’t mean that if someone comes along who doesn’t match your ideal client that you refuse to work with them.
All it means is that your marketing, your brand, your story, is aimed towards that one person who you’d like to attract above all else.
When you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no-one.
“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.”Ann Handley
Of course, tonnes of other people will love your message too, but the majority of potential clients who see your brand and think “That’s the one for me” will be the one you really want to work with.
Why does finding your ideal client even matter?
Maybe you’re wondering why all this matters? A client is a client, right?
But getting clear on who you really want to work with is important for several reasons:
- You have to enjoy what you do, otherwise your business won’t last long. If you’re anything like me, you started your own business as a way to do what you love, the thing you’re amazing at, on your own terms. If you’re attracting the wrong clients, the wrong kind of work? It’ll feel like a thankless slog and you’ll wonder why you bother.
- It gets rid of the tyre kickers. There will always be people who browse without real intent, who bulk request quotes or who want to check out the freebies without committing. That’s OK. But weeding out the ones who would never even consider working with you saves a lot of time and effort. Take copywriting. There are plenty of content mills who’ll churn out 500 word blog posts for £15 and there are plenty of clients who are happy with that. I want to make absolutely certain that the people getting in touch with me, would not be. I only want to work with people who know the value of a well researched piece of writing and the work that goes into it. It saves me the hassle of having to politely decline their request of 30 blog posts for £100.
- It makes your content and marketing strategy 100 times easier. Going back to our “women aged 25-50” example. How would you even begin to write something that appealed to these women? Are the 25 year olds you know anything like the 50 year olds? Well they might be, but there’s a whole load of other variables in there. So the language you use, the problems you talk about solving, your pricing, the social media channels you’re on – you have no way of knowing what marketing techniques will work.
Even when you get a bit more specific, identifying your ideal client needs to go deeper than mere demographics.
“It’s hard to target a message to a generic 35-year-old middle-class working mother of two. It’s much easier to target a message to Jennifer, who has two children under four, works as a paralegal, and is always looking for quick but healthy dinners and ways to spend more time with her kids and less time on housework.”Elizabeth Gardner
How to Identify your ideal client
OK, we’re going to go old school for this one and make a marketing moodboard, Oprah style. Find a notebook, big sheet of paper or even a noticeboard. Gather coloured pens and felt tips. And prepare to delve into the mind of your ideal client…
First, do a bit of brainstorming. Start with demographics. What gender are you aiming at? Your products don’t have to be gender specific, but in order to get clear on your ideal client, you should decide on one.
Does your ideal client have a family? What job do they do and how much do they earn? Where do they live (think about geographical area and bungalow/apartment/semi-detached/houseboat/yurt in the woods)? How old are they?
Do they have pets? What music do they listen to? What hobbies and pastimes do they love? And just as importantly, what do they loathe? What really turns them off?
Think about who your ideal client really is
What’s their personality like? Are they a cheery, happy-go-lucky type who takes every day as it comes and feels like everything will work out OK? Or are they a worrier, prone to anxiety and overthinking, more likely to see their glass as half empty?
Do they procrastinate or are they super productive? Are they a night owl or a morning person? Introvert or extrovert? Centre of attention or content with being a wallflower?
Oh, and don’t forget to name your client!
Delve into the specifics of your ideal client’s life
Now start getting really particular. How old are their kids? Are they married or do they prefer to co-habit? What kind of dog do they have? How do they decorate their living room and what book are they reading right now? Do they love their job or are they looking to make a career change? If so, in what direction?
If they’re working in retail but have always dreamed of becoming a wildlife photographer – that’s important!
What keeps your ideal client awake at night?
And this is where we get to the real heart of the issue.
Anyone can think about how old someone is and whether they drive a brand new Fiat 500 or an original 1960s Mini Cooper. That kind of info should make up the most basic of any marketing strategy.
But the real question you need to ask is this: What keeps your ideal client awake at 2am?
What do they worry about?
What makes their heart sink?
Only when you know their problem, can you start thinking about how you can solve it.
And that’s when your marketing starts getting really effective.
Spoiler: They don’t lie awake worrying that they’ll never learn yoga
But maybe they are kept up at night because their stress levels are through the roof and their doctor told them their blood pressure is verging on explosive.
They probably don’t spend their darkest moments wondering how to turn their kitchen into a dance studio…
But maybe they are anxious about how to keep their family active through yet another lockdown when the weather is grim and motivation is low.
Think around their problems. Think around what you have to offer. And then join the two in a glorious union of problem solving marketing bliss.Tweet
“As marketers, we should be changing the mantra from always be closing to always be helping.”Jonathan Lister
Now you have your ideal client, nurture them
Now you’re super clear on who your ideal client is, what they want and how you can help them, don’t abandon them!
Your marketing needs to speak to them, every time.
If you’d like help on getting super clear on your ideal client, just