CrossroadsI went to a networking breakfast yesterday and because it was a small group (everyone seems to be on holiday) we had a really interesting round the table discussion.  I’d been having a chat with the group leader and we’d got onto one of my favourite subjects – targeting your marketing to specific client profiles, as a result the focus of each person’s ‘minute’ (more like 2 or 3) was not just what they do, but also who they do it for.

As it took me years and years to nail down my perfect client profile, I could sympathise with the new business owner who has only been going a year and is happy to exercise her expertise for anyone who is willing to pay her.  I was in exactly the same situation for many more years than I care to remember.  There’s this little voice saying ‘but I could help this person … oh, and I can do that too for that person.’  It’s very tempting to continue to doing whatever comes along and not being specific about your ideal client.

As the saying goes “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Someone once said to me “My ideal client is someone who pays me on time!”  That’s a great aspect for an ideal client to have, but it’s only one aspect. It was interesting that most of the group hadn’t really dug very deep into their ideal client profiles.

As I explained to them – once I had bitten the bullet and really worked on my ideal client profile until it was very detailed and crystal clear it was almost as though the Universe had said “OK, now we know what she’s looking for we can send more of those along.”  More and more clients come to me – and most of them fit my ideal client profile almost to a T!  I haven’t done anything differently, but my focus helps them to recognise me and me to recognise them.

Of course, you may have more than one ideal client profile – and that’s fine – but it’s important to be specific about each one.  Apart from this almost magical effect of focus connecting you to the right clients, there are other benefits:

  • If you can describe your ideal client in detail to your network, they’re much more likely to recognise potential candidates when they meet them and make the connection.
  • If you know who you’re looking for you can find out where they ‘hang out’ – online in groups and forums and offline in dedicated business groups, professional bodies and subject specific conferences.
  • If you know them well enough to understand their problems and what they need fixing your conversations with them, singly or in forums, is going to be so much better focused.

Now I’ve got my client profile sorted I keep coming across other experts  recommending this as a critical business development tool.  One actually suggested that you need to drill down to a name.  His take was that if you don’t know someone’s name you can’t develop a relationship with them.  OK, my ideal profile actually does have a name, but I have clients that match my profile with other names too!

I think this exercise, done properly, is the cornerstone of your business – and, to mix my metaphors, also the key to long term success.

If you’d like to tackle this exercise yourself there’s a two page worksheet in the Treasure Chest.