Why having an ideal client is important (and why it isn't)
An ideal client is one you work well with, and who values (and can afford) what you’re selling.
That’s the simplest explanation, anyway.
People love to throw the term ideal client around (sometimes also called an avatar).
But why is it important to have one? What difference does it actually make in your business? And aren’t you just going to work with whoever gives you money anyway, because you like paying your mortgage and buying nice cheese?
Let’s talk about that some more…
The more specific you can get about your ideal client, the better you’ll be able to connect with them.
First let me just say, I definitely recommend having an ideal client in mind for your business. It’s one of the very first exercises my branding clients go through.
I like to compare it to the difference between yelling your offer into a crowded room at a party, or sitting in the corner with one or two people having an intimate fireside chat.
When you know who you work best with, you can speak directly to that person and not have to worry about making all the people happy all the time. Which, by the way, is impossible (and a great way to get an ulcer).
There’s a limit to this specificity though.
It might be super helpful for you to realize (as I did) that you really love helping female entrepreneurs build brands that thrive. That narrows your market down and makes it easier for you to write content that connects with female entrepreneurs.
On the other hand, it might be too restrictive to focus only on female entrepreneurs with red hair and a lisp. You might struggle to build a profitable business around that.
You want to get specific enough about your ideal client that you feel comfortable writing or speaking to them in a way that makes them feel seen, but not so specific that you’re arbitrarily knocking people off the list.
I hear a lot of conflicting advice about whether you should have an ideal client or not.
I think it’s a rule of the internet that for every opinion there is an equal and opposite opinion.
So you may have seen people talk about why having an ideal client is unnecessary, and how if you’re in business to make money you should just work with whoever will give you money.
I get that. I like money too. It’s great.
Therein lies the caveat to this ideal client thing: Don’t rush it.
If you’re just starting your business, and have less than a couple of years under your belt, I want you to try a lot of shit.
Work for different types of people, change your packages up, shift your focus if it feels right.
Not that you can’t do these things later in business, but those first couple of years should be about figuring out who you are and what you enjoy. You’re probably not going to *know* who you work best with until you’ve worked with a variety of people. I sure didn’t.
Niching down will come with time, and if it doesn’t you can step back and reevaluate.
Knowing who your ideal client is can help you connect with them on a deeper level, which in turn builds relationship, which in turn builds trust.
People buy from people they like and trust.
They want to know you understand their problems. They want to know that what you’re offering will work for them. And the best way to show them that is by building something that’s meant just for them, or at the very least feels like it.
Knowing what your client wants is important, but don’t forget your special sauce.
One last word of caution. When you’re focusing on who your ideal client is and what they want, don’t forget to factor in your own special somethin’ somethin’.
We’ve talked about your special sauce before - it’s the intersection of who you are and who you want to work with. The combo of unique traits, backgrounds, skills, and abilities that makes you uniquely qualified to solve your client’s problems.
Don’t lose sight of that as you’re focusing on your ideal client’s needs. Incorporate it instead.
Do you know your ideal client? Who do you work best with?