How to Define Your Ideal Clients: Because Not Everyone is Your Cup of Tea
As small business owners, we WANT to attract clients who appreciate our products and services, respect us, and value our time. But, let's be honest...not everyone is going to be our cup of tea. And we aren't going to be a treat for everyone either. So, how can we define the RIGHT 'ideal clients' we WANT TO WORK WITH, so that we can effectively MARKET to them, and not have to settle for everyone who inquires with us?
Here are a few tips to get you started!
1. Identify Your Niche
You can't be everything to everyone (trust me, I've tried) so it's important to identify your MOST VIABLE MARKET. Which, is just a fancy way of saying IDEAL DREAMY AF CUSTOMER! Ask yourself: What makes my products or services UNIQUE? Who would benefit the most from what I have to offer? Once you've answered these questions, you can start crafting a MESSAGE that resonates with your ideal clients. And even better...it WON'T resonate with those who ARNE'T your ideal clients. I know, if you are early in business, you may be screaming a bit because you just need money, and reviews, and work...I've been there! I get it! People will still come, and if you want to take the random jobs because you are growing and in the 'hustle' stage and just need the cash flow to keep things running...then do what you have to do! While I don't support or endorse extreme hustle culture overall, and you won't see me posing in front of any private planes (because I don't have one) to think you don't have to put in any damn work to get your business off the ground is kind of nuts. You're gonna have to do some damn work. If you really want it...work for it!
2. Conduct Market Research
You can't assume you know what your ideal clients want. You know what they say when you ASSUME, you make an ass out of you and me. Ugh, 16 year old me is currently cringing at the fact I just wrote that down. But, I mean, you get it, right?! You need to do your research! We can't just GUESS! Talk to your existing clients and find out what they like about your products or services. Ask them what problems they were experiencing BEFORE they found you. What problem have you solved for them? How have you made life easier and/or better? Do the research! If you are new to business and don't have existing customers, you may have to do a bit of guessing along the way here, or ask some potential people who you currently believe WOULD fit the ICA.
3. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media is a great way to reach your ideal clients. I don't care which one you are on. Connect with people. Share stories. Have CONVERSATIONS. BE FUCKING SOCIAL! I suggest most people choose ONE to get started with. When you've mastered it and you've got it down, feel free to add in another! Repurpose and reuse content! Yes, depending on the platform, you may need to slightly alter or adjust things, but I break down and explain that entire process inside my Content Mini Course that is only $67! You can grab it here!
4. Don't be Afraid to Say No
It's tempting to take on everyone. And again, if you're in what I call the GRIND, or hustle and grow phase, do what ya gotta do to keep the lights on! Even entrepreneurs have to eat. And I can tell you, when I started a photography business 10+ years ago at the time I'm writing this, I planned to focus on family photography. Lifestyle, messy, imperfect, blah blah. But, a few of the jobs that ended up on my calendar included a time capsule opening for a family at their posh home in a swanky exclusive area, a 20 year high school reunion for a school that has a pretty rowdy crowd, and a 50 year wedding anniversary party. You name it, they asked, I did it. Did I love it? No. But, I made some connections, got experience, and got paid. Now, if you CAN afford to say no, or once you can, it's okay to turn people down who know you aren't a good fit. Not everyone is going to be YOUR cup of tea either. And that is okay. Taking on too many clients who you know aren't right for you, is a good way for you to end up resentful and burnt out, and you might end up getting some less than favorable feedback.
5. Keep Evolving and Reevaluate Your ICA
Your ideal clients are possibly going to change as your business evolves. I know mine has. That is why it's important to keep evaluating your target market and adjusting your strategies accordingly. Don't be afraid to experiment with new marketing tactics or try new things.