Like most small business owners, we offer our service or product usually for anyone and everyone, as we need to make sales and ANY sales! But as time passes the value of focusing on a niche area and an ideal client should become your strategy – why? Let me ask – is it better to be “Jack of all trades and Master of none?” – Being an expert means becoming a specialist – only 3-4 products or services, or having staff who are expert in 1-2 products each which allows you to widen your offer, but still maintain expertise – no-one knows it ALL!
Consider the thoughts of Sandy McDonald in How to know your ideal client. It’s so much more than demographics.
Your ideal client – Embracing the process by which you get to know your ideal client is just so much more than demographics; their age, gender and location. Yes, who are they but what do they most need, what are their problems, how would they solve them without you, how could you better solve them, how can you better serve them?
Fostering that attitude earlier would have been a great lesson for older me. Not that my business wasn’t successful, but riding on the coat tails of an era in which business owners needed my expertise more than I needed their business made the next era a difficult one to navigate…..
Up until then, I’d been asked to do work, I’d done the work and been paid. When my client’s wanted more work, they came back, I didn’t seek them out.
Now we did business in a culture where to know your client, care for and nurture them had become the very essence of a successful business.
The trouble is it’s not innate. You can say ‘know your clients’, but what does that really mean? When I talk to most business owners, they have a generic picture of their clients. They can rarely describe their perfect client. They are vague about the value that a particular client represents in their business.
Sandy goes on to give 5 steps to work toward finding your ideal client and how you would serve them. Read More.
At Entrepreneur, Stephen Sheinbaum presents an interesting approach to find your ideal client is to begin with a study of yourself –
How many times have you said, “My business could get really big if I could just find the right clients”? If you have, you’re not alone: There’s not an entrepreneur that I know who hasn’t had that thought, at least once.
The good news is that there are many ways to find the right clients. Here are five strategies that can be universally adopted to help you find them –
1. Know who you are – A clear simple elevator pitch that invites interest
2. Know your competitors – Sometimes you can discover a gap in the market
3. Do your homework – Read and listen to what the industry is dealing with
4. Ask – Survey all the time, customers, potential clients, formal surveys
5. Be seen – Join networking events and chambers, speak when given the chance
At Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch has 5 steps for business owners who want to grow –
The 5 steps below can put you on the path to discovering your ideal target customer-
1. Start with the Smallest Market Possible – This may feel counterintuitive to many just starting a business, but you have to find a group of customers that think what you have to offer is special. When you’re just getting started you may have very little to offer and in many cases very few resources with which to make sufficient noise in a market for generic solutions….
2. Create an Initial Value Hypothesis – In the step above I mentioned the idea of finding a narrow group that finds what you have to offer special. Of course, this implies that you do indeed have something to offer that is special
You must create a “why us” value proposition and use that as you hypothesis for why us. If this is starting to sound a little like science that’s because it is. You must always stay in test and refine mode in order to move forward….
3. Get reality in Discovery Test Sessions – Established, thriving businesses have the ability to learn a great deal every day from customer interaction. Since start-ups don’t have any customer interaction they have to create ways to test their theories initially and on the fly
The key to both making and affirming your initial assumptions is to set-up what I call Discovery Test Sessions with prospects that might easily fit into your initial smallest market group. These are essentially staged one on one meetings….
4. Draw an Ideal Customer Sketch – Once you’ve trotted out your hypothesis and tested it with your narrow group, you’ve got to go to work on discovering and defining everything you can about your ideal target group that is making this easier to do than ever.
5. Add Strategy Model Components – The final step is to apply this new ideal customer approach to other elements of your strategy.
Read the full article HERE
Have you struggled with an ideal client?
I certainly have – and when calls come in I have to decide if they are core to my specialty, or do I know a trusted colleague who has the expertise they need if it is not mine.
What is YOUR experience?
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