Identifying your ideal client

I found this information extremely useful.  It has made a difference in my approach to reaching the clients who want me and will pay for my services.  (the following has been edited for this blog)

Identifying Your Ideal Client Profile

Not everyone is an ideal client. Stop accepting clients that don’t fit your mold of being ideal to receive your services. You will become more focused and less frustrated.

1. Identify the Qualities of Your Ideal Client: Identify your ideal client by asking yourself the following questions: Is there a particular group of people you’d be excited to work with? Are they appreciative of your efforts and insights? Do they want to work with you in a big way? Do they have the resources to afford you and the willingness to refer others? Are they easy to reach and connect with?

2. Know Your Ideal Client: Know WHO your ideal clients are, WHAT their particular issues are, WHY they’re having them, and HOW you can solve these challenges.

3. Identify Common Factors Among Your Clients: What is unique about your ideal client profile in terms of the problems that you can help them solve? Think about issues they’re faced with, goals they want to achieve and the biggest challenges they face. Then identify the insights you are able to provide them with and the results they will achieve from working with you.

4. List Your Favorite Clients: Make a list of your favorite current and past clients to help determine your ideal client profile. Consider their gender, age, location, industry, number of employees, title, and so on.

5. The Mass Market is Not Your Market: It’s expensive and difficult to differentiate yourself if you go after the mass market. By targeting a niche market, you will see better results at a lower cost. Be specific about who you are, what results you bring and who can most benefit from your expertise and experience.

6. Find and Reach Your Ideal Client: When determining your ideal client, one of the factors to consider is whether they are easy to reach through various groups and associations. Identify associations where they might be, newsletters they might read, and communication mechanisms to reach them. Who can introduce you to your ideal client?

7. Describe Yourself as an Expert: In establishing yourself as the expert in specific areas, among a particular client and industry, you can command more money, increase your client base and attract the attention of the press as well.

8. Identify the Insights You Can Provide Them That Your Competition Can Not: Get to know your competition by doing some research. Visit their websites, read their press releases, sign up for their newsletters, do a web search, review their marketing materials, and attend industry events. Think about five key attributes that are selling points for using you versus someone else.

9. Firing Incompatible Clients: If you are feeling drained, frustrated, or set up for failure with a particular client, working with them is probably not worth it. If any of the following sound familiar, you are not working with an ideal client: They seem unsure of what they want and how you can help, conversations are strained and tense, they continually question your credentials, their insecurity causes you stress, they want to see your work prior to it being completed, they don’t appreciate what you offer, or they don’t want to pay what you’re worth.

10. Take Advantage of Your Current Client Base: Use your current clients to get new clients. Oftentimes people are afraid to ask their clients for referrals, or for their help. In most cases, clients are happy to help if you simply ask. Send a letter or email to some of your best clients and explain what makes them an ideal client. Ask them a few questions that will help you to identify other clients like them (i.e. what associations do you belong to? what publications do you read?).

Assignment: Write down the top three to five decision makers that you would like to spend an hour with. Do some research and find out where they will be in the next few months. Can you attend a conference they’re speaking at? Or, do you have a mutual connection?

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