The Process for Finding Your Business’s Ideal Client

Have you ever thought of working with a select group of clients? Many businesses offer a wide range of products or services to a wide range of people or companies but struggle to narrow their market focus. Instead of targeting a broad population, get good at serving narrowly defined market segments.

What Is An Ideal Client?

In any marketing conversation (or one that you hope to be effective) it’s common to hear that you must know your target market. But within every target market is a segment of people who you are best suited to serve, who value what you do and are very profitable for your business. This group of buyers represent your ideal client.

Trying to be “all things to all people” doesn’t work. If you don’t know what your ideal client looks like in the most specific way possible, how can you market to them? It is possible to have multiple ideal clients, just make sure that you develop targeted marketing tactics for each. Basing your work on specific buyer profiles/personas prevents you from sitting in your office just making stuff up, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing.

How Do You Determine Your Ideal Client?

Most marketing today is target market-centric not ideal client-centric. And while the first one is important, it’s equally important to understand the clients that you are well suited to serve and that you want to work with. This will make a win-win for both you and your client. Ask yourself the following:

  • Who needs the services you provide?
  • Who can you deliver the greatest value to?
  • Who do you enjoy working with?

Take into account your best accounts today and what makes them ideal for you so that you can apply it to attracting new clients in the future.

Segment Your Client Base

Creating a spreadsheet of your clients and focusing on segmenting your client base between normal accounts and your most successful accounts is how to identify your ideal customer. Your best clients or most successful accounts should have the following two key behaviors: they are profitable and also refer business to you.

Think about whom your 10 best customers are and what you need to do to attract 10 more just like them!

Dive Deeper For Ideal Client Characteristics

From your client base above start looking at the characteristics of these successful accounts or best clients. You’re searching for any common characteristics that are shared by this client base.

Defining your ideal client:

  • Demographics — Business2Business (B2B) demographics could be the type of industry, the job title of that individual, the years that a company has been in business, and/or revenue levels. Business2Consumer (B2C) the demographics could be age, sex, illness, income, and a particular area of town.
  • Psychographics — Understand where do they hang out, what do they read, what do they listen to, what do they search online, what makes them tick, what triggers them to go looking for a solution? It’s also useful to identify any triggers caused by some type of lifecycle change, calendar event, budget refresh, office relocation, etc. (Hint: focusing on identifying what these triggers are with your current clients is the best way to immediately grow share of awareness, know how to attract your ideal client and how to find your customer.)
  • Challenges or Problem — Marketing is about solving customer problems, whether those are problems customers are currently facing, or problems they will face as their marketplace evolves and their needs change.
  • Real Quotes — Include a few real quotes taken during your interviews that represent your persona well. This will make it easier for employees to relate to and understand your persona.

How Do You Create an Ideal Customer Profile?

Ideal customer profiles can be created through research, surveys, and interviews of your current client base. That includes a mix of clients, prospects, and those outside your contacts database who might align with your ideal client.

Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop ideal customer profiles:

  • Take into consideration your sales or service team’s feedback on the leads they’re interacting with most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?
  • Interview customers and prospects, either in person or over the phone, to discover what they like about your product or service. This is one of the most important steps, so let’s discuss it in greater detail …

The following questions are organized into those categories, but feel free to customize this list and remove or add more questions that may be appropriate for your target customers.

  • Role—What is your job role? Your title? How is your job measured? What does a typical day look like? What skills are required to do your job? What knowledge and tools do you use in your job? Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
  • Company—In which industry or industries does your company work? What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
  • Goals—What are you responsible for? What does it mean to be successful in your role?
  • Challenges—What are your biggest challenges?
  • Watering Holes — How do you learn about new information for your job?, What publications or blogs do you read?, What associations and social networks do you participate in?
  • Personal Background—Describe your personal demographics (if appropriate, ask their age, whether they’re married, if they have children). Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, which schools did you attend, and what did you study? Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
  • Shopping Preferences—How do you prefer to interact with vendors (e.g. email, phone, in person)? Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information? Describe a recent purchase. Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?

Now armed with the information of what your best clients or most successful accounts look like and their characteristics, develop a detailed profile of your ideal clients. Then, show up in the right places (social media channels, networking events, publications, search engine, mobile) at the right time (when profitable clients are looking to solve a problem or research a solution). You may be featured in fewer publications and meet with fewer people, but you’ll close more sales.

Today’s buyers require more expertise, interaction, trust, and maintenance than ever before. So don’t waste your time courting the wrong clients. Consistently add something to the conversation: leads will listen, suspects will engage, and prospects will buy. You just have to make sure you’re talking to the right people first.