Identifying Ideal Clients is one of the more difficult exercises I go through with business owners. The demographics part is relatively easy and comprised of SIC codes, size of business, location, and title of decision maker. Listing the demographics is logical.
It’s when I ask about the psychographics that I begin to lose them or they’re worried that we’ve just taken a sharp left into nonsense land and the question seems illogical at best and impossible at worse. Maybe it’s the word “psychographics” that’s off-putting.
There are characteristics of your ideal client that you absolutely want to identify. It’s not easy work, I’ve struggled with it myself but if you can find three to five traits that define the difference between a raving fan and a make-your-life-painful client, you’ll not only be happier, you’ll be more profitable.
Example One – Ideal Client for Midrange Fund Accounting Software Solution
There are roughly 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States. But not all of those were good candidates for the software solution. One of the demographics characteristics was that the nonprofit be between $5 million and $20 million dollars in annual budget.
When we talked about the clients that we did have in this sweet spot, we focused on what was it about the ideal clients that made for a shorter sales cycle, successful implementation and client satisfaction that led to referrals.
We came up with the following traits:
The organization was ideal if they had more than 5 grants they were tracking and required to report on. Less than five and they could probably get away with managing the grants on spreadsheets. More than five grants meant that the collection of data, the accuracy of data and the ability produce reports quickly was a painful and tedious process. The cost of investing in an automated system was acceptable given the level of pain.
The organization had to have a CFO or a Finance Director. Someone at this level could champion, influence and articulate the value proposition of the solution better than an Accounting Manager or Bookkeeper.
The organization was ideal if it was a regional, state, or local arm of a national organization. It was likely that the Finance Director of the Dallas office spoke to the Finance Director of the Los Angeles office and from past experience we knew that we were likely to get referrals.
Example Two – B2B Marketing Consulting
In my consulting business (the traits are different for my coaching business) I typically work with professional services businesses between $500K and $5 million, where there is either an entry level marketing person or the business owner is responsible for the marketing.
The psychographics include: they know they have to market (I don’t have to convince them of the value of marketing), they have an updated website that allows for content to be easily added, and they trust and understand my approach to marketing.
Once you have identified these traits you can use them to disqualify non-ideal prospective clients. More importantly you can use these traits to zero in on the type of content your website should have.
Once you have this profile, it should be used in all your discovery meetings. Design a list of questions to determine if an opportunity is an ideal opportunity. But the real power of the profile is put to use on your website.
When writing for you blog or producing video for your website, rather than casting the net wide and trying to make the content applicable to a mass audience, narrow the focus and make the content especially for your ideal client by talking about their problems, their challenges, their situations.
Prospective buyers prefer to qualify themselves. Rarely upon receiving your marketing do they pick up the phone with the goal of deciding whether or not your products and services are a fit for their business. Rather they fire up the search engine and take a look at websites and blogs to determine if it’s worth their time to call you.
Publishing content specifically designed for your ideal client greatly improves the chances of a meeting to move forward. When you look for prospective clients who fit your profile, it populates your business activity with people and companies you enjoy working with.