Where have you set your sights?
When I say perfect, I’m talking the clouds parting, a vision appears before you, and it’s your perfect client. You’ve been waiting for all along. It’s business heaven at first sight and you go all gooey-eyed and you both know this is a match made in heaven. Nothing is going to stand in your way to dizzying success and a happy partnership.
Okay, so how does that compare to where you are now? Because when we’re starting out, to get any money coming in feels like a huge achievement and we’re dancing around the house with glee! Whoop whoop! And that is a big achievement that deserves celebration, but we want to make our business efficient and profitable, setting ourselves up for success. And that means being clear on exactly who the client of your dreams is.
We often fall into the trap of thinking it’s a volume game and the more clients or customers we have, the better. In reality we want to be strategic about choosing our customers.
Selecting your ideal client and turning down those who don’t fit is very important. And it’s terrifying to turn down work when you’re starting out. It somehow feels counter-intuitive, but it’s an essential part of developing your business into the venture you want it to be as well as developing you as a business owner.
Whatever it is you do or sell ultimately wants to be a win-win – you make their life better, easier or happier in some way and they, in return, give you income, job satisfaction and, hopefully, client referrals. If you are both happy with the outcome then it is a success. But how much of a choice do you feel you have in the process? And why is it so important?
Make sure your perfect customer is aligned with your business model
One mistake often made is to ‘take what we can get’ and enter into short term arrangements. But think about it in terms of your sales effort versus return. If you have to get new customers every month, it’s going to take a lot of time, energy and money. To get more bang for your customer acquisition costs, you want to be getting one customer who will stick with you for a long period. So, who is that person, who will be happy to enter a longer term engagement, or be a repeat customer? Is that a shift in your current customer type? A bigger organisation perhaps or a different product/ offering from you?
Choose customers that will make your work a success
There will always be times when perhaps we need to take on some work that is from a client that doesn’t fit our desired type, but how do we know when to say no? It depends on the type of work you do, and the amount of interaction you will have. Consider what you expect from your customer to make sure the outcome is a success. Be clear upfront what you need from them and, if they can’t, or won’t, be able to provide it, then will it hamper your ability to deliver successfully? You always need to have in your mind the point at which you need to walk away.
Does this customer reflect where I want my business to be?
Being clear on our business vision and bold about whether our prospects fit that mould can be scary but will help you get to your ultimate goal in the long run. If we take on customers outside that vision, we’ll distract the business from being in the space we are really aiming for. Remember you have limited resources, and if your energy and time and focus is in a less-than-ideal space, your business will move into that space. Where would you love to direct your time and focus and attention? Go there and see what you can find!
Your ideal customer will be unique to you and your business
This is something I revisit with every client. It’s such a core pillar to your business and is key to the whole effort — your business model, pricing strategy, marketing and social media.
And it’s pretty simple to tackle.
- Paint a picture of your ideal customer — either literally or sketch notes, cut out bits from magazines or use stick-people!
- Ask yourself why they are your ideal customer:
- What are they like to work with?
- What sort of arrangement do you have with them?
- How often do you interact and how?
- If you had to write a testimonial for this fictional customer, what would you say? eg they are easy to work with, review and feedback within 24 hours, pay invoices promptly, are well connected in X industry and shout about my business, etc
Remember, your ideal customer will be unique to you and your business.
Go find them!
Once you figure out who they are, you can then find out where they linger (virtually and/or in person) and go hang out with them! Get to know them and really understand how you can help them.
Just by being around the right people for your business, you’ll start to point your business in that direction. You’ll grow networks, be able to refine your products and speak in a voice they pick up on. Having that clear vision of who they are, will make you be of better service to them.
And once these ideal customers are working with you, you’ll start getting testimonials and recommendations in those circles which will then cement your presence, and your credibility will expand further amongst that tribe, all at a price point that you have chosen to pursue.
There’s nothing like the satisfaction of landing the gig with our ideal customer, with the excitement of where things might lead. It’s an amazing boost and something us business owners live for! *air punch*