How Well Do You Really Know Your Ideal Client?

We’ve all done the exercise. Writing down who will buy our products and how our products and services will help this one special person. What do you mean you haven't? How do you know who to market your business too? You think everyone is your potential client? Move along nicely… for you, there's nothing more to read here.

Defining your customer is the first thing you do when you decide to start your own business.

You determine who will buy your products and services. what specific products and services they need,  and then create a client avatar. By creating an ideal client avatar  or buyer persona, you start to understand your prospective customer better, and then when you start blogging, you write to this person, much in the same way as you talk to them offline, and in all of your other marketing materials.

This vision of your ideal client impacts upon everything you do, including pricing (you can’t charge a single mum as much as you can the CEO of a FTSE 100 company), pain points differ (mum probably has fewer shareholders, with different priorities like “what time is our dinner, and no we don't want fish fingers again“), and it even impacts upon the colour of your logo.

When putting together your ideal client avatar you'll spend a few hours considering things such as her:

  • Age group
  • Income
  • Family status
  • Education
  • Lifestyle goals
  • Location

Your answers to these questions form the basis of your client avatar. You can even write up a nice little story about your ideal client. You give her a name, a couple of kids, a husband who just doesn’t get it, and maybe some debt, maybe the pressures of raising a family, oh, and a mortgage. You know quite a bit about her and her feelings, or at least, you should do, after all, you created her!

But you would be wrong, and if you stop there, you may be missing a huge piece of the puzzle—and losing out on the best clients because of it. Here are 4 things that impact upon the client avatar and stop you attracting the right customers.

Here are 4 things that impact upon the client avatar and stop you attracting the right customers.

Being Authentically You

I'm told that being authentically yourself means you'll attract people just like you. I don't think so.  Are you really your own ideal client? When you are yourself, you may attract people similar to you, but you also have to remember a flame attracts moths as well as those seeking warmth.

What would a client base compiled of people just like you feel like? Is it a harmonious blend or do you prefer to work with people resonating on a different frequency? What if they're a blue sky thinker and visual (most people are) and you're tactile and respond kinesthetically…

Ideal clients are rarer than you think and there are people similar to you, but they're not you.

There's only one of you and one of them, and to say you are the same (but 5 years ago) with the same feelings, thoughts and experiences won't help either or you. Times change, technology changes and circumstances change.

You 5 years ago isn't your ideal customer and you're losing business in huge amounts if you think it is!

The Right Personality

Here’s something that’s rarely considered in the ideal customer conversation and it’s the most intriguing part: personality.

If you’re snarky, sarcastic, fun-loving and loud, then a quiet, middle-aged mother who spends her time volunteering at the church is probably not a good fit for you. Sure, she might need your help, and she might love your products and buy all your books, but for one-on-one coaching, this match is a hurricane-style disaster just waiting to happen. Either she will be uncomfortable with your methods, or you’ll be miserable trying to reign in your natural enthusiasm.

Better to pass this lovely person on to a coach who is a better fit for her personality-wise. Don't want to do this? Ideal clients are human beings, they can sense when something isn't quite right and it's usually a personality issue. They may think you don't “get” them, or the time isn't right for them, and you shouldn't force this issue. Telling them they're not investing in themselves isn't ethical or decent, it's a cheap tactic designed to make you richer and the prospect poorer – let them explore their feelings and understand them.

If the person ticks all your ideal client boxes and you decide to work with them because you need their money, well you're not really serving your business or them. An ideal client avatar is there to help you grow your business and help it thrive, not hoover up cash from the people it can't help.

I decline more customers than I accept, some I'd love to work with, but I can't determine their motive, while others I understand their motives but I don't help people in that specific industry, for various reasons. I pass on a lot of potential clients to coaches more suited to them and their needs. I have discovery calls where the person talking just needs to be heard, and I just listen. There's no push, and often being heard is the most powerful gift you can give to someone. You might not wish to behave in this way, you may wish to push-push-push because the sky is the limit but this will burn you out, and burn out your audience.

Drive Determines Success

Drive can be difficult to calculate from the start, but once you recognise it (or the lack of drive) it’s worth paying attention to. The client without the drive to succeed will—more often than not—only end up frustrating you both. You'll go all medieval by tearing your hair out and rending your garments (always wanted to put that in a blog post… virtual high five!). I know, because when first starting out, I attracted a lot of people who admired my drive and determination. They believed by working with me, they'd increase their drive, that I'd magically rub off on them somehow.

Better to end your relationship as soon as you see the signs of this than to waste your time going over the same material and exercises again and again with someone who simply won’t do the work, or heaven forbid, think they don't need to do the work because another person (insert the name of any big name guru here) doesn't do this! Or say they can't do the work as they're too busy. You're not a therapist, pass them along, you'll have to fire them at some point in the future if you don't.

Listening Deeply

Listening matters. It's all about what's said and what's not said. I'm overweight, what most people would say is I'm fat. I've been told in groups to do all kinds of weight loss programs and to eat less and move more… But here's the shocker, the people that say this don't know me, and they don't listen. I'm a PCOS sufferer, this whole eat less move more movement doesn't work for me. I cycle between 5 and 10 miles a day, eat 1800 calories and take Metformin for the PCOS. On paper, I should be a size 10. The reality is different and that's where the listening comes into play.

I frequently hear people say a certain group of people are their ideal customer, because the group is for women because they're in a certain geographic boundary and it's simply not the case. There's more too it than the broad strokes.

This is an image of two women in the spotlight. Can you see the differences?

One is there with her partner. He may be her guest, she may be his. She's smiling and she's happy to be in the spotlight at this moment. The other woman in the spotlight? She's looking out at the audience. She's standing straight and I feel a brave face is being put on. Does she want to be there? Or…

Connections are made in the details. The image is of two women in the spotlight, yet they're completely different. You're different you want to dig deep enough to understand them. It's not just who they are but their dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Quick wins will give you a database of the wrong people. It will lead you to products and services that aren't profitable.

Generic Marketing Is Not Enough

It's never been enough, and unless you're a generic business owner, digging deep and uncovering your dream clients is exactly what you need to do so that you can create customer avatars that grow your business.


P.S want to know how I can help you create the perfect client avatars? Book in a call here

Sarah Arrow

About the author

Sarah Arrow created the popular 30-day blogging challenge back in 2007. Since then 750,000+ business owners have learned to blog and grow their business through her content, her challenge and her blogging books.

  • I’m still not able to list my ideal reader! There are more in the older category but then up pops a youngster. I don’t have a niche that I can develop (I don’t think) so I’m relying on variety and good content

  • T-J Hughes says:

    I love your use of “rending your garments”! This is great, Sarah. Thank you. I’ve often thought I was trying too hard, but I’ve learnt more recently that sometimes my way of working isn’t right for everyone. Trying to build a system that works for ‘everyone’ isn’t right. One of my 2016 goals is to understand my ideal customers better. I need to, now I’ve grown the number of businesses I run! I’ll be coming back here for reassurance 🙂

  • Deffo you aren’t your ideal client – and I do believe those who use it as a ‘thing’ have misunderstood the actual truth behind it as – they read it and took it as literal without understand the energy behind it as a concept – the fact is authenticity says you will teach what you need to learn and learn what you need to teach – so by that fact you will have a resonance – a realness and integrity with your ideal clients – however if you are taught that you are your own ideal client – it isn’t a wonder that you have no clients… as you are IT lol…

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