As a small business owner, do you pursue every opportunity or are you selective about only taking on work from ideal customers?
If someone is willing to pay for your services and you are capable of doing the job, it can seem foolhardy to decline. But, is this the right strategy for success?
The reality is that not all clients are ideal. If you have been running a company for several years, you will recall those who were either a pleasure or a pain to work with.
The difference between ideal and not so ideal customers
With ideal clients, there is a synergy.
“Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals ten, or one hundred or even a thousand!” – Stephen Covey
When you have a synergy, conversations and ideas flow; you are in tune with what they need and they are open to your expert advice. It feels as though you are working with them: a collaboration. When you deliver your products or services, they are happy that you’ve understood and met their requirements. The chances of repeat business or referrals are high.
Without that synergy, it can be very difficult to please a customer. You can find yourself justifying every detail, every charge and it can quickly become incredibly hard work. You may find you are working in ways you don’t enjoy. Communications can leave both parties feeling frustrated. Even when you’ve pulled out all the stops, you both feel as though it isn’t quite right. You put a lot of effort in, but the rewards are low.
Who are your ideal customers?
When you first started out in business, you may have undertaken some exercises to identify your ideal customer. This was a prediction. You made a calculated guess about the demographics, the behaviours, the desires and challenges of customers who might need your products or services.
Identifying your target clients and understanding their requirements is at the heart of a successful company. This is a subject covered by Neil Patel in ‘Why understanding your customers is the only marketing strategy you need’.
Did you hit the nail on the head?
Now that you have an established business, you can see whether your initial predictions were accurate. You now have data to help map out and pinpoint your ideal customers. Look at the clients that you have attracted and spot the common factors in those you would consider ideal.
I have prepared a document to aid this process which you can download at the bottom of this blog.
Look back through your invoices and use the document to list every customer that you have worked for over the last 6 month or year.
This document asks you to provide additional information including: their industry, the services you provided and how they found you. It also asks you to rate each client on the rate of pay and both the quality and quantity of work.
The document can then be formatted to list your top clients.
Spotting the common factors
Looking at the clients who head up your list, are there any common factors? If there is a pattern, this information can inform your future marketing strategy, so consider:
- Are your best clients from the same industry?
- Were they all looking for you to provide a certain service to help them resolve the same challenges and pain points?
- How long did it take to convince them to go ahead and use your services?
In addition to the information in the template, you may also be aware of other parallels:
- Do they share similar goals and values?
- Do they face comparable barriers before making a purchase?
- Do they always pay on time?
Look at those customers that are not ranking highly. Can you identify why so that you can avoid similar clients in the future? Do you find some take more effort than others – where do you get the best ROI (Return On Investment)?
You might find that this exercise identifies an area to niche in, perhaps clients from a certain industry or focusing on just one product or service.
Revise your marketing strategy to align with your target clients
Now you can use this information to revise your marketing message and decide which are the most appropriate marketing tools.
- What message would attract the interest of your ideal customer?
- Where do you stand the best chance of attracting these customers?
- What will it take to convert them?
As you focus more time and attention on these ideal clients, you can move away from marketing strategies that either haven’t generated leads (or have generated less than ideal leads). You can tailor your marketing message to your ideal customer, the benefits you can bring to them which will solve the problems they have.
Make sure that you get references from your ideal customers. These testimonials are most likely to resonate with similar people who hopefully will also want to become your clients.
Ideal customers equal job satisfaction
To run a successful business and gain just rewards, you need to identify your ideal customers. When you try to have broad appeal, you miss the opportunity to focus on the niche skills and expertise that set you apart. When you pinpoint what you do well, it becomes easier to map and attract your ideal customer.
The 80%/20% rule, known as the Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. By identifying and focusing on the 20%, you can apply your effort, energy and resources where they count. This makes it possible to have the capacity to grow your business without burning out.
Client Analysis: Free Download
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