The answer to finding your ideal client is hidden in the clues of your every day life.
This article is for my fellow entrepreneurs who are unclear about who their target market is and have experienced the pain of wasting time and money engaging the wrong type of clients. This article will expose 3 clues to reveal exactly who your target market should be and how to start connecting with your ideal client.
My entrepreneurial journey has led me astray more times than I can count since 1997 and a large reason was because I had been unclear about who my target market was. My elevator pitch included some all-inclusive, non-impactful statements like “I build websites for businesses” and the unspoken part of that statement was “any business who is willing to pay me”. But do you think I was making any sort of lasting and impactful impression with that statement? Do you think they saw the value I brought them as an expert in their industry?
My aha moment came to me during the long dark winter months of 2014. After 11 years of being a self-employed web developer, I was exhausted by a docket of clients who had cornered me into a pattern of working more for less on projects that were less than inspiring. I couldn’t figure out why this had happened. After all, I was doing what I loved and I was getting a steady stream of referrals and repeat business. Then it dawned on me; I was working for the wrong clients. Since this realization, I’ve become obsessed with finding my ideal client so I could proactively reach out to them instead of accepting whatever came my way.
In my journey to find my ideal client, I first had to figure out who my target market was. But that was a pretty vast population and I needed to narrow it down even further, so I identified my niche or my vertical. And within that vertical, I was able to identify specific businesses that would be my ideal clients. During this process, I had to put on my private investigator hat and look for clues to find my answers.
Clue #1: Find your target market
The trick is to look at the clues in your life and start here first. How are you spending your days? What are your hobbies, passions and interests? Who do you surround yourself with? What topic of books, newspapers, magazines, websites are you obsessed with? What are your core values and who shares those values with you? You’ll find your market in who you are and how you approach your life every day. Your target market will be relatable. They’ll share the same language. They’ll have similar values. Within 30 seconds of meeting someone in this target market, you’ll likely find something in common. Start here first.
Clue #2: Find your vertical market
Returning to your hobbies, passions and interests, you have undoubtedly become a little-known expert on a few things that make you feel more excited, more alive, and you might even lose track of time because you have become so engrossed in this “thing” that you love. The reason to find a vertical is not only to narrow the market, but to give yourself the permission to do what you love every day in a way that will make a difference. You’ll find much more success being seen as the go-to professional in this industry because it’s a lot easier to stand out as a big fish in a small pond than it is to be a small fish in a big pond. And because you are already familiar with this industry, you have more opportunities to relate in an authentic way, hone in your direct marketing message, and bring exceptional value to the market with your product or service.
The reason to find a vertical is not only to narrow the market, but to give yourself the permission to do what you love every day in a way that will make a difference.
Clue #3: Find your ideal client
Now that you know who your target market is and have narrowed the population down to a specific vertical, you’ll be able to direct market online, through targeted advertising and at industry events. But just because you’ve found your sweet spot doing what you love in an industry that you love and are getting an overwhelming response from potential customers, avoid the temptation of working with “just anyone”.
I’ve come up with a strategy that looks a lot like building a Facebook profile of who my ideal client is. In working only with my ideal clients, I’m more successful in meeting my business goals. And because I’ve saved time and money doing what I love for the best clients ever, the rest of my life is open for relaxation, adventures and being with my friends and family.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy of my Ideal Client Worksheet. It will help you find the clues to discover who your ideal client is, saving you time, money, and lost opportunity so you can be free to live your life on your terms.