If there’s one mistake that new—and sometimes even established—business owners make, it’s this: failing to develop a clear vision of her ideal client.
Too often we think our service or product is “for everyone.” And while it might be true that everyone could use your help, it’s simply not possible for you and your brand to appeal to everyone. Your prices might not be in line with what some can afford. Your branding might not resonate with others. Your story may not touch everyone with the same sense of urgency.
And when you try to reach everyone, rather than narrowing your focus to your truly ideal client, you dilute your message, making it even less likely that those perfect customers will find you.
But if you’re just starting out, it can seem an impossible task to know who your ideal client is. Start with these three points.
1. Gender. Is your audience male or female? While men and women might both read and enjoy your content—and even buy your products—you will most likely find that your market is skewed heavily one way or the other. Men and women are different, and they are affected by stories and branding in very different ways, so what appeals to a man will not always appeal to a woman. Look around at some of the brands you buy, and you’ll quickly see how they form their messages to appeal to one or the other, but very rarely both.
2. Goals. What does your client hope to achieve, and how do your products and services help to realize those goals? Whether she’s trying to build a profitable crafting blog so she can stay home with her children, or he’s working to create an online resource for muscle car fans, if you don’t know where they’re going, you can’t help them get there.
3. His or her point in the journey. Is she a beginner or well along on the path? How you speak, how you write, what marketing methods you use, and even what prices you charge will all be determined by your ideal client’s level of sophistication. Whether you’re teaching beginning knitters how to cast on, or helping couch potatoes train for their first 5k, their level of commitment (and willingness to spend) is far different from a long-time knitter who is discovering intarsia, or a runner working up to a triathlon. And you will not reach your market effectively if you don’t know exactly where they are and what they need at this point.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, you might not yet know who your ideal client is. That’s okay, too. But pay attention, because they will tell you. They’ll tell you through the products and services they buy. They’ll tell you by following you (or not) on social media. They’ll tell you by commenting on your blog and asking questions that are relevant to them. Watch your interactions, study the businesses of those who contact you for help, and take a look at what your competition is doing, and soon enough you’ll have a clear understanding of who your ideal client really is.