How to Discover Your Ideal Client
The Ideal Client! If you've been an entrepreneur for even a short time, you've probably heard this term. I definitely did early on, but it took me a while to grasp exactly how to figure out who it was, and why it was so important.
When I first started my business, I prided myself on being a versatile designer, and would say yes to any and every job and client that came my way. I designed wedding invitations, worked with non-profit companies, and even worked with a scrap metal yard (and this is only the half of it). I found it very hard to brand or market myself because I wasn't focusing on one thing or trying to market to one type of client. This led to burn out, not producing my best work, and not attracting the type of clients I desired and the type of work I was best at.
When I was first introduced to the concept of the Ideal Client, it scared me! If I were to get specific about who I wanted to work with, and change my brand to match that, I feared I would lose clients and therefore money. I also wasn't sure how to describe my ideal client. I didn't care if they were blonde or brunette, and why did it matter anyways?! But the more I researched it, the more it clicked for me. Once I established my Ideal Client, and changed my brand to speak to that person, my business actually grew dramatically. Below are some tips that I learned, along with an Ideal Client Worksheet to help YOU discover your ideal client.
1. CHOOSE SOMEONE YOU KNOW OR FOLLOW
Like I said above, I didn't understand the importance of naming my ideal client's hair color, eye color, or dream vaca spot. If they chose Mexico instead of Paris were they not ideal for me? And how was I supposed to create this fantasy client in my head? (I imagined it like creating a Wii character, sitting there stressing over which eyebrows to choose. Choice anxiety!).
Then I switched my approach and I pictured a real person. I have several blogs I keep up with and several women in business that I admire, and when I thought about REAL people, this task became much easier for me. I decided on a fashion blogger that I love, and once I visualized her in my head, I could easily fill in the blanks. My ideal client looks something like this: She has curly brown hair and brown eyes. She is newly married and loves to travel the world with her husband- Europe being her favorite! She is funny and real, and not afraid to make fun of herself. Her style is edgy + effortless + minimalistic, and she is filled with authenticity + confidence. She has a fierce passion her business and a drive to see it succeed.
See how easy it is when you visualize someone you know? The important things here are the values and key characteristics of this person, of course, so don't get caught up if you get a host of blondes instead of brunettes filling up your inbox. The purpose of identifying some of the less important qualities is simply to get a clear picture in your head, and speak, post, market, etc. as if you are speaking to that exact person. If a potential client's favorite food is gaucamole instead of pasta, you can still work with them if you wish. Guac is pretty rad too ;)
2. STUDY YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Get to know your ideal client as if you were getting to know a friend (maybe they are a friend- that makes it easy!) What is important to him/her? What makes them light up? What are their values? Hobbies? Guilty Pleasures? Knowing them better will help shape your brand around those ideals. Their ideals will naturally be in line with yours, as they are your ideal client. See... you are slowly creating a more authentic brand for you and for those you serve already... hurray!!
3. CREATE A BRAND THAT SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Once I had a clear idea of this chica in my head, it all started to make sense. If I were to create a brand as if I were speaking directly to her, then I would be attracting people just like her. If I posted Instagram images and captions imagining she would be reading them, I would only post things that I know she would love to see. I would change my portfolio to show only the work that she would be wanting for herself. Fro example, since she loves to travel, then she would love to see where I've been traveling to. Since she is a growing business owner, she would love to see work that I have done for other growing businesses.
It is so much more profitable to be great at a few things than just ok at many, and better to serve one type of client, than trying to appeal to the masses.