Dear Perfect Client,
(Let’s work out a cuter pet name soon, please?)
Have I told you lately that I love you? ‘Cause OHHHH BOY, do I love you!
It took me SO long to find you. There were other clients before you – less than ideal ones. There were clients who I could never seem to meet eye-to-eye with, the micro managers, and clients who weren’t ready for this kind of relationship. A lot of times, I knew in my heart that they weren’t “the one,” but I gave it the good ol’ college try anyway. But, things never felt *right* – the way they do with you. It’s hard to explain…
It’s like we get each other, you know? You’re driven and ambitious like me. My skills complement yours. We’re on the same page – and when we aren’t, we work together to change that. It isn’t a one-way street with us; it’s a collaboration. They say the best relationships come when both people have something to offer. We’ve found that in one another. Don’t you think so? I know it!
You’ve given me the freedom and happiness I craved from my entrepreneurial journey. It is because of *YOU* that I’ve been able to to build a stable business despite 5 moves in the last 8 years. It’s because of YOU that I wake up every day inspired and ready to help build meaningful brands. And it’s because of YOU that I’m so filled with joy that I sat down to write a love letter. (Sorry, hubs.)
What I’m saying is, THANK YOU. Thank you for being out there, for existing, for finding me. Thank you for working with me and trusting me with your life’s work. Thank you for being a dreamer AND a doer; not one or the other. Thank you for working hard to bring your dreams to fruition, and for involving me in the process. And most of all, thanks for being my muse. I couldn’t do it without you!
All my love,
Have you found your ideal client yet?
I have a fear as an entrepreneur. Maybe you have the same one. In fact, I’m willing to bet you do. I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m afraid of saying no to a potential client.
You know the feeling – someone wants to work with you. They reach out. You chat or exchange emails. And something feels… off. Something isn’t clicking. Maybe you have differing values or your communication styles don’t exactly align. Maybe their niche is out of your wheelhouse or you feel that they’re casting too wide of a net. Whatever it is – something isn’t right.
But you brush it aside. You reason that nagging feeling away with rational, logical thoughts. I need clients, you tell yourself. Gotta make hay while the sun shines, you tell yourself. This will lead to bigger, better things, you tell yourself. It’ll all work out, you tell yourself.
And maybe it will. Or maybe it won’t. Or maybe it’ll work out, but you’ll just be miserable the entire time. (That sounds fun and doable, right?)
You, my friend, need an ideal client profile. I sat down and created mine. And you need to do the same for your business – and that’s a direct order! 😉
Create your ideal client profile
Figuring out your ideal client isn’t rocket science. It takes time, thought, and planning. You’ve got that, right? You’re an entrepreneur, after all! (Okay, so you don’t have time – but trust me, it’s worth it to MAKE time for this.)
An ideal client is the type of person that you would *LOVE* to work with and who your business is suited for. This might be an actual person you have in mind, or it might be a composite of several people you liked working with. It’s the kind of client who, upon reaching an agreement, you find yourself secretly waiting for “You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel to come on, out of nowhere, full-blast. (Don’t lie – I can’t be the only one who has felt this way.)
It sounds difficult, I know. But I promise, it’s possible.
Let’s walk through this together…
Can & will they pay you?
First, an ideal client has to be able to pay you. They have to be able to pay on time and they have to be able and willing to pay what you’re asking. That isn’t to say that you won’t find clients who seem GREAT, who you realllllly want to work with, but who lack the funds to pay you what you deserve. Those clients are everywhere. (And hey, that isn’t a bad thing! That just means there are lots of great people out there, and with some killer work ethic and a little bit of luck, they’ll get where they need to be and find the budget to hire you, eventually.)
On that note, you’ll also find clients who, let’s face it, can TOTALLY afford what you’re asking, but choose to haggle or spend a great deal of time negotiating. While it’s perfectly fine to negotiate now and then, don’t forget the importance of knowing what you’re worth. Money is great, but the feeling that comes along with settling (or feeling undervalued) is draining. To show potential clients your value, you’ll need to be able to back up your work with a tried and true process, a unique selling point, proven results, and a human approach to your business. (You don’t want to be treated like a robot, do you?)
Do you like them?
An ideal client should also have the same (or similar) beliefs and values that you do. This will make things easier from the get-go. I’m not saying that you need to believe in all the same things, attend the same church, and cherish the same heroes. But, partnerships are a whole lot easier when you can agree on certain things. If your values don’t align (or if you cannot put yourself in their shoes), it’ll be impossible for you to carry out their vision in a genuine way. At the very least, it’s pretty crucial that you like each other.
Also, do you truly believe in your client’s success? Being a brand strategist, I invest a lot of time into my client’s businesses. And frankly, some business ideas would be hard for me to support. So, I don’t. It wouldn’t be fair for either of us to invest time into building something I didn’t believe in. It wouldn’t be my best work. I use my client application & discovery call process to make sure that I want to work with my client as much as they want to work with me.
Do they need your help?
And finally, they’ve got to need help… and need help that you can give them. If you’re a brand expert – like me – your ideal client should be someone who needs help with branding, not blogging. A Professor of English may know his way around the library (and a bunch of other bookish stuff I’m not giving enough credit for.) That doesn’t mean that he knows how to market an online course about it, film video lessons, or create a strong, cohesive brand. It’s your job to use YOUR skills to complement theirs.
Got it? Awesome! Remember, your ideal client is going to grow over time with the evolution and growth of your business. Nothing stays static… and if it does, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’ve got bigger fish to fry.
To keep your ideal client fresh, consider these exercises:
- Spend some time thinking about your client’s day.
What do they do during the day? Where do they eat lunch? Do they work? Where? What thoughts run through their head? What do they wish people knew about them? What are their insecurities? Challenges? Triumphs?
These questions may seem arbitrary, but tapping into your ideal client’s thoughts & routines gives you TONS of insight into their needs.
- Any time you have a conversation with your ideal client, take notes!
It’s a good practice to spend time on the phone or face-to-face with clients & potential clients, even if you don’t “have to.” You get much richer information from people’s spoken words than reading their writing. Write down keywords and phrases. Determine what’s important to them and what’s not. Keep a running list of these things and soon you’ll see your ideal client’s profile clearly.
If you want your ideal clients to understand that you understand THEM, pay attention to the way they talk! How do they describe the problems they are facing? Are they fun and casual, or professional and precise? They should be able to see themselves in the work you create for them, so don’t be afraid to get to know them! I’m giving you permission for light stalking. It benefits everyone.
- Hunt for insight in Facebook groups, blog comments, Amazon book reviews in your niche.
Don’t be shy– use the information right at your fingertips! Take notes about the way people explain their pains and what they want. See what is missing from the available resources that you could provide them!
- Use your analytics.
Google will tell you ages, demographics, and some interests of the people who visit your site. Pinterest analytics will give you an even better view of your audience interests. Use the Facebook graph search (“Pages liked by people who like Kaye Putnam”) to see what other things your audience is into… it may surprise you!
- Create a survey for your audience.
I know a few content creators and online educators that run a survey every single year. It’s invaluable information for learning more about your audience and ideal clients. Ask them what they are struggling with, dreaming of, and thinking about. If needed, incentivize people to complete the survey. I wrote about how a survey completely changed the focus of my online course, Brand New Brand here.
Oh, and here are some Interview and Survey Questions that may help you light the way!
Finding your perfect client takes time, and you may need to develop your skills to reach the income level you’re seeking. But it is not – and I repeat, IT IS NOT – impossible. Be true to yourself, true to your brand, and in time… those perfect clients will find you. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to say no.