Whether you’re new to business or have been around for years, these seven questions will help you define your ideal client and get clear on how you can serve them best.
Last week, we talked about a few common beliefs around target audience that could be holding you back. Let’s say you’ve crossed those barriers and are ready to cross the line… put your stake in the ground.
But you’re stuck. I mean, how do you even go about nailing down your target audience?
Friends, you’re in luck. We’re going to walk through seven simple questions to help you nail down your ideal client. Notice I said simple… this doesn’t mean easy. Understanding with the utmost clarity who you’re serving is imperative to running a successful business. These questions aren’t meant to be rushed—take your time and really think about the answers. I promise if you put in the work up front, it’ll be that much easier when it comes to creating the marketing materials for your brand.
1. What do you do?
This may seem like an obvious one to some business owners, but when I first started out, my business offerings were all over the place. It’s hard to nail down your target audience when you aren’t clear on what you’re actually providing, amiright? So, I pictured myself meeting someone new and what my response would be to the question, “What do you do?” If I couldn’t answer that with clarity, I reworked my response until I could say something without stuttering and stumbling.
This “elevator pitch” process also led me to simplifying my offering as much as possible and zeroing in on my specialty. My first answer to this question was something like, “I provide digital marketing, social media, brand design, and web design services for small business owners online and local small businesses.”
Fast-forward to now and I can clearly articulate what I do: “I’m a brand and web designer for service-based business owners.” Do I still provide digital marketing services? You betcha. But it’s not what I want to focus on and it’s not what I need to say in order to attract my ideal client.
2. What does their business look like before they start looking for you?
Now that you have a clear understanding of the services you provide and your area of expertise, it’s time to start thinking about your ideal client. What does their life and business look like right now, prior to doing business with you? What does a day-in-the-life look like?
The goal is to understand how they’re currently operating in their business and life so that you can eventually speak directly to their pain points and know what transformation you’re able to provide. Remember, for this exercise, all you’re doing is thinking about what their current day-to-day looks like. Check out my example below to get the creative juices flowing! 🙂
Social media manager example: My ideal client wakes up early and gets in a great workout. After eating breakfast and having her first cup of coffee, she sits down, ready to start posting on her social media channels. Since she doesn’t have any ideas for that day, she starts scrolling through Facebook and before she knows it, an hour has passed. She decides to hop into her email and make sure she’s up-to-date and then goes on Pinterest to see if there’s any inspiration there. Two hours later and she goes back to her email. She follows up with a client and notices a product order has come through—yay! She realizes it’s time for lunch and promises to post to Instagram and Facebook after eating….
3. What are their external problems?
Once you understand how they operate within their day-to-day, it’s a lot easier to understand their struggles and pain points.
Just like in life, there are two sides to every problem, and when it comes to your ideal audience, those sides are internal and external.
Let’s look at your ideal client’s external problems first. These are problems that others can see and are outwardly facing.
For example, continuing on with the social media manager: their ideal client’s potential external problem could be an inconsistent Instagram feed that visually doesn’t look cohesive.
[[if you want to learn more about identifying internal and external problems, I highly recommend picking up Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller and/or listening to his podcast. His work is ah-mazing!]]
4. What are their internal problems?
Now, on the flip side of external problems are internal ones. These are thoughts, emotions, and feelings related to a problem or pain point.
Going back to our social media manager’s ideal client: They’re probably embarrassed by their visual inconsistencies on their Instagram feed. Or maybe they’re worried about what others think of them because they don’t post consistently and their images aren’t high quality.
Donald Miller, the author I mentioned above, says it best: Companies tend to sell solutions to external problems, but customers buy solutions to internal problems.
Being able to identify and clearly articulate your ideal client’s internal problems is what will help you build a solid relationship with your audience and trust within your community. Yes, external problems are important to understand and solve because it’s what the world can see. But, solving internal problems is what builds connection and loyalty with your ideal client.
5. What are they FIRST looking for when they find you?
Okay, you’ve identified what they’re struggling with, but how about understanding what they’re searching for? More often than not, what your ideal client is looking for and what they need are two different things. As an expert in your space, you know the lingo, the verbiage, and correct terminology. However, your ideal client is not the expert, which means they probably aren’t using the same language as you.
For example, my ideal client is usually looking for a logo when they first come across my business. I know that they need more than just a logo to create a strong visual brand, but that’s not something that even enters their thought process.
And you know what? That’s okay. Because it’s not their job to know or understand—that’s on me, as the expert.
6. Where does your ideal client spend their time?
I don’t know about you, but wasting time is not something I enjoy doing. One of the biggest time sucks for a digital business owner? Social media. And even more so if you’re spending time on a social channel that your ideal client doesn’t even like.
Since you’re now well versed in your client’s problems, it’s time to start actually talking to them. And that means showing up where they are. If you love Instagram but your ideal client doesn’t spend their time scrollin’ the ‘gram, it’s time to focus your efforts elsewhere.
If you aren’t sure where to start, think about where your past clients came from. Clearly, that method was working, so why not focus your efforts there?
For all the brand new business owners, just start. Pick a channel and stick to it for six months. If it’s not doing anything for your business, switch it up. It’s okay to test things out… In fact, it’s HIGHLY encouraged! When you start thinking of your business as one big experiment, it takes the pressure off picking the wrong “thing” and puts you in the curiosity mindset. Which makes this whole experience a lot more enjoyable!
As a last reminder, it’s not the client’s responsibility to find you, the business owner and service provider. When you do your job well, you will be where they spend their time and show up when they search for what they think they need.
7. Who is (or would be) your most favorite client to work with and why?
I want you to think about your most favorite client ever (or, if you’re just starting out, think about who that person would be) and start writing down all the reasons why working with them was so freaking amazing. What was their age and gender? What industry were they in? What was their personality like? Were they organized or chaotic? Were they responsive and decisive, or did they have a hard time making decisions, which is what lights you up? Write down anything and everything that got you excited about working with them.
Now, bring it all together.
By identifying who you love working with and why, you’re actually painting a picture of your ideal client. This is the person that makes you LOVE being an entrepreneur, so why would you want to work with anyone else? And by gaining clarity on their internal and external pain points, you can better understand how to best serve them. And lastly, when you understand where they spend their time and what they’re looking for prior to finding you, you can do the heavy lifting and go to them.
A Few Final Thoughts…
I hope by now you’re happily jumping on the ideal client bandwagon. There’s plenty of room and I promise it’s a fun ride. And even better? You’re one step closer to simplifying your brand roadmap—hellooo, Point B!
Up next? Nailing those brand values.
All my best,
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