How to Use Your Ideal Client Profile to Strengthen Your Business

Profile of Ideal ClientJust the other day, I was advising a new freelancer about how to jumpstart his freelancing career.

One of the first suggestions I made was for him to get crystal clear on who his Ideal Client was.

Your Ideal Client is the embodiment of the one person you would be happiest working with.


Why You Should Have an Ideal Client

Having an Ideal Client in mind doesn’t mean working only with those who fit the profile to a T.

It does mean being focused on a specific type of person in:

  • The way you communicate about your services
  • Choosing which networks to participate in
  • Which types of marketing strategies you use
  • How you structure your entire freelancing business, from your services to your rates and work processes

One of my favorite business mentors says that having your Ideal Client in mind is like being able to call him or her by name in a crowded room. Your Ideal Client will be compelled to turn around, look your way, and listen to you.

For me, the best part of knowing my Ideal Client is that I can recognize her IMMEDIATELY when she sends me an inquiry via email, or a reply on Twitter.

That’s how powerful it is to know who your Ideal Client is.

To demonstrate the process of conjuring an Ideal Client, let me share with you the profile of my ideal client.

Ideal Client Profile Part 1: Demographics

The most basic component of an Ideal Client profile is, of course, the demographics.

This includes gender, age, geographical location, educational background, family background, ethnicity and others.

Demographics also includes annual income and type of business or industry.

In terms of my demographics, my Ideal Client is:

  • Female
  • 30-45 years old
  • Lives in North America
  • Has a college or university degree
  • Has additional training to become certified in her field, such as life coaching, business consultancy, etc.
  • Married with children
  • Owns a business with a gross income of at least $100,000 a year
  • In coaching, writing or consultancy
  • In the business of helping others improve their lives
  • Has an Internet-based business

Marketing experts advise getting such a clear and concrete image of your Ideal Client that you can give him or her a name.

It’s even better if you can find a picture of your Ideal Client. If you find a picture, put it up beside your desk or computer–any place you will see constantly while you work.

It’s also possible that your Ideal Client is someone you know in real life. It could be a friend, an acquaintance, or a client you’ve already worked with. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. One of my clients interviewed me as part of her market research, because she said that I fit her profile of her Ideal Client.

If your Ideal Client is a specific person you know In Real Life, then all the better for you. You’ll have an easy time visualizing the person and imagining you’re talking to him or her as you write content for your site, or prepare your project proposal, or brainstorm services you can provide.

Ideal Client Profile Part 2: Psychographics

Most people stop at demographics when thinking of their ideal customer or target market.

However, your Ideal Client is made up of much more than demographic information. More importantly, he or she has attitudes, worldviews, goals, and beliefs.

These are the psychographic elements you also need to be aware of.

In my case, my Ideal Client has a sense of mission. She believes that she is in business, not only to create wealth for herself and her family, but also to help improve the lives of her own customers. The money she receives in business reflects the value she is able to impart to her customers.

My Ideal Client believes that each one of us has a special gift to share with the rest of the world. Her business is all about sharing that gift and enabling others to enhance and share their gifts.

My Ideal Client believes in the inherent goodness of every person. She values hard work, authenticity, and relationships.

And then there are characteristics that are specific to the way they work with me: my Ideal Client values my work and contribution to her business. That is, she’s not out to get the cheapest copywriter she can find. She always pays on time, responds to emails on time, and is easy-going.

As you can see, my Ideal Client is not the type who would use black hat strategies, coercion tactics, or deception to make a quick buck.

What an Ideal Client Isn’t

Having an Ideal Client doesn’t mean I only work with women, or only with those who are earning six figure-incomes a year.

Certainly, I do have male clients. I can’t look inside my clients’ hearts, so maybe I’ve had a few who don’t have completely pure intentions with their own customers.

Neither do I ask for their income tax returns, so maybe I have a handful who’ve hired me even though they can’t really afford me yet.

The profile of an Ideal Client isn’t like a checklist with which you measure each prospect. Rather, it’s like a compass that shows you the way to find the right client for you.

One way you know you’re communicating effectively with your Ideal Client is when you’re turning off those who don’t quite fit the profile, and attracting those who do. If you attract everybody, then your communication is too ambiguous and generic. You’re still trying to address the masses instead of being laser focused.

Your Turn

What’s the profile of your Ideal Client? Is this profile evident in the way you communicate about your services? In the language and look of your website, for example?

Or have you been neglecting to call your Ideal Client by name all this time?

I look forward to reading about it in the comments below.

Image by exfordy

Comments

  1. says

    My ideal client is someone who understands what a good brief is – and who pays on time!

    Joking apart, the ideal person I target is someone senior in a graphic design or web design agency that’s based in London. That may seem fairly specific but there are about 4,000+ such companies. The agency my ideal person works for/manages/owns has a) no in-house copywriter and so needs to hire me in as a freelancer and b) a juicy list of high profile clients.

  2. says

    I recently found my ideal client – after reading through the details of a project she sent me, I said to myself “wow, this is the perfect amount of direction and creative freedom, and she’s so nice too!”

    I may have just stumbled upon my ideal client, but at least I know now exactly what to look for!

  3. says

    An interesting approach and one which has definately made me think. The ideal client target is something we all consider subconciously and this gives the idea a name and rational, thus it now has a lot more focus and potential.

    Every business has an ideal target and a target audience and it is something us freelancers have been used to considering for work we create for our clients (user profiles and target audiences for advertising and so on) yet I suspect something we could think about a lot more for our own marketing.

    Having an ideal target client allows us to evaluate clients and prospects in a new way, appreciating those which we have and identifying those we wish to make contact with and understanding why. This is more about the clients persona and ideals than whether they pay on time (as with the client us freelancers delivering on time is also a given), rather it is about helping us identify which clients and prospects fit our working model and services best so we can encourage sucessful growth and understand our market and sector more fully.

    Thank you.

    Bex
    http://www.bubblegumkitten.com
    Follow me! @Bubblegumkitten

  4. says

    I did find this an interesting read, but would like to say that it’s also very idealistic. Not everyone can afford to be so specific, I know you have said you work with other types of people but some freelancers have to take what they can get especially when they are just starting out.

  5. says

    @FreelanceFactfile – I think it’s awesome, Carole, how really laser focused your Ideal Client is!

    @Kathryn Barlow – You’re right, it’s possible to stumble upon our Ideal Client quite by accident. In my case, I had an idea of my Ideal Client in my head and then I met her in real life. Cool!

    @Bex – You bring up an interesting point, that we all have Ideal Clients at least subconsciously. I guess then the real challenge is letting it surface to our conscious minds so we can go out and find them :-)

  6. says

    I work with a complete mix of Clients from all walks of life and they all have different qualities some good and some bad. It’s what I percieve to be the bad qualities that I learn the most from. If I kept picking Clients with all the good qualities then there’d be no challenge.

    The challenge is to love the bad ones. They’re usually the ones that push you further.

  7. says

    I must say the photo for this blog post really attracted me to it. Nice choice for a topic such as this. ;)

    Going back to the topic, you make a really good point in coming up with an ideal client profile when searching and choosing clients to work with. For me, my ideal client would be someone who works in the shopping, baby, or women’s accessories industries and who knows what she wants. He or she respects me, my services, and the rates I state for the work he or she expects me to do. I also envision him or her as someone who knows his or her niche very well, who is appreciative, friendly, and takes the time to reply to my emails especially those that contain important questions regarding the work.

    Oh, and he or she should be understanding if I need to take a couple of breaks from work due to reasons like family, being burnt out, and getting sick. Oh I hope to find a client like this in the near future!

  8. says

    Thanks for this article. I found it very timely for myself – an associate asked me exactly the same question only yesterday!

    I also like the way you are as precise about the psychographics as you are about the demographics.

    I sympathise with the point made by Office Cavalry, but in my experience, putting energy into clients who are not right for you burns energy and keeps you from seeking out the clients who will energise you with their attention and positive approach to your work.

    Malcolm

  9. says

    I second Stephanie’s vote for the picture!

    @ CavalryOffice: Focusing on one group of people will actually get you more clients. It also makes it easier to find them because you know where to look, what they like, what problems they’re likely to have, and how you can fix them.

    For instance, if want to go fishing for tuna, you know to head to the ocean, rather than the desert. You’ll also then know what kind of bait to bring, the tackle you’ll need, how much ice to keep the fish cool, etc. If you just say, “I want fish,” it’s a lot tougher.

    Specializing also makes it easier for people to remember you (he’s the virtual assistant for accountants) and refer you.

  10. says

    You write the great post.One tool that will help you to market to your ideal client is called your “Ideal Client Profile.” Designing this profile is a great personal exercise, although you should involve others, too. Why? Because sometimes business owners are too close to their own enterprises to accurately create the best overall picture of their own ideal client.

  11. says

    An ideal client is like an ideal man, someone who regards you as a complement to their team and acknowledges that you have gifts that they lack. Moreover, they are secure enough in themselves that they can trust you to fulfill your end of the bargain once you’ve proven yourself.

    You don’t have to chase them down for deliverables or payment. They value their relationships and reputation. They appreciate the journey as well as the destination and are not averse to investing the time and the resources that it takes to get the job done well.

    They respect your ideas and views and are not afraid to give and take criticism.

    I have had the pleasure of working with some of these people. Some may not be quite ideal, but they come darn close.

  12. סוככים says

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  13. says

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