Ideal clients are the ones we love to do business with. They are easy to work with, appreciate and value us, challenge us and want us to challenge them. Doing business with them is profitable and they think they are getting a good deal from us. We wish we could clone them and they wish all their partners could be more like us.
So why can’t all our clients be ideal ones? Here are six things that get in the way and what to do instead.
- Not knowing who are ideal clients are. Many of us keep marketing and selling to everyone or to the currently popular clients because we are afraid of limiting our prospects or we haven’t take the time to identify who are ideal clients are. There is no rule that says we have to work with clients we don’t enjoy. We can have a thriving business working only with the clients that fit. Selecting a niche of ideal clients helps us find them be more attractive to them. Next steps: Consider: Who are your ideal clients? Think demographics (things you can see about them from the outside), geographics (where they are), and psychographics (things they think, believe, care about, fear, etc.). What problem do they face that you are best able to solve? Why? What does this problem make them feel? What to they want to feel instead? Why can’t your competitors solve that problem? What do your ideal clients value? Finally, what are all the costs of working with non-ideal clients?
- Trying to be who we think others think we should be. When we market and sell, we often subconsciously want to appear the way we think people want us to appear: cool, smart, upper class, exclusive, intense, young, learned, hip, experienced, capable, wise, worldly, calm, healthy, blah, blah, blah. Our ideal clients, on the other hand, love who we are and share or at least appreciate our values. Next steps: Pull out a copy of your company values. Consider: Do you believe them? Do they need a refresh? How much of your messaging (website, posts, materials, sales calls) is trying to be something else? What is the harm in you are your company being who you are? What would it look like if you and your company could be successful in the market because of who you are?
- Leading with why we’re great. Most of our messaging is about what we do, why we’re different, or why we’re great. Ideal clients need to agree that we understand them before they’re ready to hear about us, what we do, how we help. As Park Howell says, we make ourselves the hero of the story when it’s our ideal clients who are the real heroes. Next steps: Turn the camera away from you and toward your ideal clients. How much of your messaging starts by explaining or exclaiming something about you, your products & services, or your differentiation? Get ready to archive or at least push to the bottom of the page most of this.
- Losing them in our logic. Our ideal clients want to know that we can help fix their problem. But, because we are so immersed in what we know, we tend to talk about what they don’t care about yet and dive into arcane details. Next steps: Craft the simplest possible story about the transformation you provide from their perspective. To start, answer these questions: What is our ideal client’s current situation, generally? What do they want instead? Why? What stands in their way/what’s the issue/what do the competitors offer that’s not working? What do we do that works (and that competitors can’t or won’t do) and why?
- Assuming we got it right. Despite our intelligence and experience, we can only guess at what really makes our ideal clients tick. They know for sure and want us to know. Next steps: Share your new story with some ideal clients (and with people who might know or know about your ideal clients). Ask them for help: “What do you like about this? What would make it even better?”
- Putting it (only) on our website. It’s great to get our new story right and even up our website. But we can’t stop there. We need to use the story in every interaction with current and potential ideal clients: in our posts, events, newsletters, and especially, our sales conversations. Next steps: Take a survey of your interactions with current and potential ideal clients. Make a plan to include your new story in each. Teach everyone in the company. Practice, get feedback, and iterate.
There is no shortage of ideal clients out there who need our help. Let’s understand who they are and engage them they way they need us to.
In your corner,