THE POWER OF IDENTIFYING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Everyone harps on at you about this but why is it so important?
Marketing is a challenge for all businesses, even more so for small businesses and entrepreneurs with limited resources. That’s why identifying your ideal client is so important.
Honestly, I flapped around in the wind for five years in my wedding photography business with no idea who my ideal client was. Everything ticked over but I wasn’t charging what I felt I was worth because I wasn’t attracting my ideal client.
Business friends told me I should get it down on paper but I felt so averse to it and I can tell you why. Firstly, I couldn’t really see the benefit because I felt like I had a fairly good idea in mind of who I wanted to work with…essentially just nice people. There was a lot more to it than that but it was such a jumble that it was easier to say that I just wanted to work with people I connected with. Secondly I had no idea how to get all the attributes of people I liked to work with into just one single hypothetical person. So I put it off. For five years!
In hindsight, I so wish I’d done it sooner!
SO, WHAT CHANGED?
EVERYTHING changed when I had a session with Stevie at By the Way Creative. I was focussing on growing my wedding photography business at the time so we were tasked with coming up with not one but four avatars that represented people we wanted to work with. We were to give them quippy, fun names to identify them. And OMG this made life so much easier! Now I had four hypothetical humans to squeeze all those lovely traits into.
They weren’t just fun avatars of people I wanted to work with. Each one had a backstory and personality traits. They included hard demographics like; age, gender, education, income and location as well as softer attributes like; style, values, hobbies and interests and hopes and fears. I even got down to the type of language they use and comfortably relate to. For me they all fall into a fairly laid back type of personality and so my language doesn’t have to be uber formal which is great because I’m far from formal.
This was over a year ago and now I’d go so far as to say that ideally you need JUST ONE! Once you’ve narrowed it down to four, it’s very possible to narrow it down further.
Since identifying my ideal clients my branding has become more succinct, my language more consistent, my pricing has gone up and my lead conversions have increased dramatically. Those who contact me, want my style of photography and my personality so they are happy to pay the premium. I talk to them in all my online chatter, and they talk back. We connect and they know even before they’ve contacted me that I’m the one they want to work with.
Consider the differences in how you may speak to a high-end luxury bride-to-be paying £5000+ on your services compared to how you’d converse with a more free and easy bride-to-be with bohemian values and a mouth like a sailor? Think about also how they may speak to you. I don’t want to photograph a wedding where I’m treated like staff. I love to be in amongst it, making friends with their friends so I talk to the couples who are seeking that too.
WHERE DO ‘YOU’ COME INTO IT?
You should try to reflect upon your own personality in amongst all of this. You need to know who you feel comfortable spending time with. Think about who you best relate to because they’ll be the people who best relate to you. This is more important if you’re providing a service where you’re the point of contact more so than if you are selling a product online but it’s relevant in both cases.
Who you want to attract will inform how you converse with your target audience over the web and in all promotional content. It will direct the style and tone of the images you put out into the world, even the facial expressions and activities you yourself are doing in your brand portraits.
While you’re not speaking directly to an individual, if you imagine in every blog post, every instagram story and each Facebook comment that you’re speaking to this very specific person then it will help shape your language and content. This is because, by now, you understand what makes them tick, what worries they have that you can abate, what gets them excited and exactly how you can help them.
When you market to everyone, you market to know one and so…When you speak to everyone, you really are speaking to no-one. Be specific in your targeting when considering your language and content.
Getting even deeper with it you can work on identifying your ideal clients’ ‘pain points’ in relation to what you offer. This is really powerful in the B2B arena but also works for B2C.
What problems, challenges or issues are your clients hoping you can solve? How do your products or services help them? What benefit does it provide?
Once you understand how you can solve their problems, you can legitimately gear your content towards highlighting the many ways in which you can help make their lives easier. Can you reduce their stress levels in some way? Because who doesn’t want that? Can you save them time and money?
Really getting into the nitty gritty gives you so much power in your marketing. Suddenly your content has purpose and direction and when it’s targeted it’s really quite effective.
Market research can provide some seriously in depth information but if you don’t have the time or resources for that, try this: pick your best current client and write down all the characteristics that make them ‘ideal’. See if you can identify the following about them…
Gender, Age, Education, Where do they live? What is their annual income? What do they buy from you? Why do they buy from you? On what platform did they find you? How much do they buy from you? What makes them easy to work with?Do they refer you to other clients? What are their hobbies and Interests? Where do they hang out online?
WHO DO ‘YOU’ WANT TO WORK WITH?
Think of everything that makes them a great client to work with. Then you can create a profile that describes them in detail. These are the individuals you most want to do business with. And they are the people that should motivate your marketing strategy. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do business with anyone that doesn’t fit the profile. But it tells you where to focus the majority of your efforts to get the best return on your investment.
When you have a clear picture of your ideal client, marketing your business becomes a lot less complicated and much more cost-effective. Rather than broadcasting your marketing message to the entire world – an expensive proposition even in today’s social media universe – you can concentrate all your resources on those clients most likely to buy from you.
WHERE DO THEY HANG OUT ONLINE?
One of my recent mentees was having a crisis as she wasn’t generating any wedding enquiries and her bookings were down for the year. We looked at her leads and where they were coming from. 16 enquiries from Hitched and 2 conversions. 3 enquiries from Instagram and 3 conversions. I recommended that she ditch hitched (or at least spend less efforts there) and focus on Instagram because that’s where her ideal client is hanging out. I suggested strategies for getting in front of her target audience on Instagram and she started to implement them.
She may well have received less enquiries from the platform but they were serious leads who had a genuine interest in her work and herself. Within one week of focussing her time on Instagram she had received the first new enquiry from there in almost a year!
Understanding where your ideal clients hang out online in paramount in reducing wasted efforts. Monitor where your leads are coming from, how many you convert and whether they are willing to pay your premium prices or if they are looking for budget services.
There are groups of people who do need your product and actively seek it out. There are groups who definitely do not need your product and there are nowhere near being your ideal client. Try marketing tampons to men, for example, and see how that goes? And there are those who do not know that they need your product but with some education they could become your ideal clients.
The five levels of awareness.
- Most Aware. Your best customers. They’re brand loyal. They’re enthusiastic about your product. They attend your events and recommend you to their friends.
- Product Aware. These prospects know you, but haven’t yet made a purchase. They’re also familiar with your competitors and are unsure of who to commit to at this stage.
- Solution Aware. These guys know about solutions like yours, but don’t know your specific product or service. If your company isn’t well known in your industry, they may not have heard of you.
- Problem Aware. They know they have a problem, but they may not completely understand it and because it’s something new, they’re unfamiliar with the possible solutions.
- Unaware. These are prospects who don’t realize they have a problem. They simply don’t know that a better way exists.
Your ideal client may sit in any one of these levels and it’s even possible to convert those in the unaware stage. This is done through education, by highlighting the problem you believe they have and showcasing your ‘solution’ to them. Education is a powerful marketing tool. It does take time but it can open up a whole new area of the market.
The long and drawn out point I’m gradually coming around to, here, is that it shouldn’t be assumed that your ideal client is looking for you. Sometimes you have to go looking for them but in doing so you can tap into an area of the market that no-one else is even looking at.
It’s because I know the fundamental importance of identifying and targeting your ideal client that include it as part of every branding shoot project. So, do get in touch if you’d like a free 15 mins chat about how I can help you in your buisness.