The Busy Entrepreneur’s Guide to Ideal Clients
This article is #5 of 6 in our series about content marketing. As a certified Content Marketing Expert, I share what I’ve learned at the Hubspot Academy and as Sunbird’s Content Manager.
Imagine trying to sell your product or service to a random person on a busy street. If they don’t immediately walk away (or scream in your face - á la New York City), chances are they won’t immediately understand what you’re talking about, let alone how amazing your business is. In fact, even if they did know, they probably wouldn’t want what you’re selling. You don’t want to be the guy who works at the phone case booth at the mall, screaming at innocent iPhone owners to buy his Android phone cases. By yelling at complete strangers, assuming that he knows (and can fix) a problem in their life, he repels his audience instead of attracting them.
Don’t be that guy. In order to sell your product or service, you have to know exactly who your target market is. Know your Ideal Client so that you can be smart about creating content that attracts your prospects.
What are Ideal Clients?
An Ideal Client is a general profile you keep (and continuously update) on your “perfect” customer. This document tells you who your target audience is and everything that’s important to know about them: where they are in the world, what they do, what they struggle with, etc.
Note: Ideal Client profiles are fictional representations of your ideal customer. You should not exclude a potential customer simply because they do not line up exactly with your Ideal Client profile. At the same time, do not discard those who do perfectly embody your Ideal Client profile because they can be real people! This is an incredibly useful tool for attracting the right kind of customers to your brand. The results are often uncanny.
Why Do I Need to Create an Ideal Client Profile?
An Ideal Client profile will help your marketing message resonate, strengthen communication with your customers, and even improve your product or service itself.
More targeted marketing
How are you going to advertise your product or service if you don’t know who you’re speaking to? Targeted marketing is the most successful marketing. If you try to speak to everyone, you’ll end up speaking to no one.
An Ideal Client profile will help you determine how you should advertise to your potential customers and when. It will help you develop your marketing message in order to better appeal to your target audience.
An Ideal Client profile is essential for content creation. Knowing your audience in depth will help you create content that they want to see, and in the format that they want to see. An Ideal Client profile will also help you determine when and where your customers will be online, so that you can promote your content accordingly. You can create all the amazing content you want, but you need to know who you’re speaking to for it to really be effective.
Do you know how you should speak to your ideal or even current customers? What language do they use? What mode of communication do they prefer? These can all be answered by having a thorough Ideal Client profile.
At Sunbird, our Ideal Client profile tells us that the majority of our prospective and current clients prefer intimate forms of communication. That’s great news for us, because it fits our down-to-earth brand personality trait! So we make it a priority to have in-person or over-the-phone meetings.
It’s important to know how your customers like to communicate so that you can help them feel comfortable and trust your business.
Better product or service
Much like the long beak of a sunbird that adapted to drink the nectar of flowers, your product or service should also always be adapting to its environment and customers.
Improvements are always necessary. Imagine how slow your computer would be without installing the latest updates! Your product or service should be evolving to better help your customers. Ideal Client profiles that are constantly being updated can reveal new pain points that your customers are suffering from, so that you can address them through your products or services.
How Do I Create an Ideal Client Profile?
An Ideal Client profile should be based on two main factors: research (information about the market beyond your current customers) and customer data (information your current customers can provide).
Doing research can be scary, because there’s a lot of data out there, and it’s not always obvious what’s relevant and what’s not. Don’t feel bad; giant corporations and market research firms struggle with the same things! If you’re new to market research, here’s an easy way to start.
- Use common sense to start to focus your market. What buyer characteristics might affect whether someone will love your brand? If you’re a local business, geography matters a lot. If you’re selling beauty products, gender may be an important demographic feature. If you’re selling products online, the age and tech-savviness of your market may really matter.
- For a very broad perspective, explore the data that the Pew Research Center and the US Census Bureau publishes.
- For a more focused search, find out what organizations, trade associations, and publishers do studies on your market. Check out their most recent reports.
- Once you have a pretty good sense of what your market might look like, you can also do some guerilla research on your own. Think about where your prospects might be hanging out and who else is speaking to them. Listen in on their conversations in forums like Quora and Reddit. Read reviews and blogs to see what they’re saying about your industry and competitors—good and bad. This kind of data is hard to quantify but will give you a pulse on what your Ideal Client may care about.
- After doing the above research, you should have a pretty good sense of what you know and don’t know about your Ideal Client. To fill in the gaps, create a survey that you can give either in person or online. (There are pros and cons to both!) If in person, pick a spot where potential customers are at and start conversations! If online, buy responses from a targeted demographic from Survey Monkey or Survata. These surveys cost a few hundred dollars, but when you have specific questions for a specific audience you don’t have access to, they can help you make millions of dollars in the future 😉
What better resource to figure out who will buy from you than people who actually have bought from you? Your customers are your greatest resource. If you’ve fostered a good relationship with them, they’ll be willing to help you out.
Start by sending out an email to 5-10 of your past clients, or even calling them on the phone (Sunbird-style!). Ask if they’d be okay with answering a few questions about their experience with your business. Ask them questions about what brought them to you, what made them buy from you, and what they gained after working with you (or buying from you). It’s also important to begin the interview with general questions about them as a business.
Here’s an example of how we, at Sunbird, would interview our past clients in order to figure out our Ideal Client profile:
- What industry is your business in, and what product or service do you provide? (If we know the answer to this, obviously we wouldn’t ask!)
- Where is your business located?
- How many employees do you have?
- How long have you been in business?
- What problem were you experiencing in your business that made you realize the solution was branding?
- How did you find out about Sunbird Creative?
- Did you come to Sunbird already having a good knowledge of branding?
- What made you trust Sunbird to brand your business?
- Were you ever apprehensive about choosing Sunbird? If so, why?
- What did you or your business gain after your journey with Sunbird?
After all your surveys have been collected, you can analyze the results and try to find patterns. It will take some time, but ending up with one final, general Ideal Client profile will be well worth it.
What an Ideal Client Profile Looks Like:
Bottom Line: So now you know what Ideal Client profiles are, why they’re important, how to create them, and what they look like. So… what are you waiting for? Start your research, contact your customers—it’s time for you to make your very own Ideal Client profile! It’ll give you clarity on your current and future clients so you can improve your marketing, client communication, products or services, and of course—create better content!
Any questions or thoughts? Leave a comment below! We love to hear from you.