Next to having the skill and ability to create a useful product or service, the most important thing you need to know to make your business a success is who is your ideal client.
And just as importantly, where do you find them?
Most people will counsel you to answer this question by focusing first on the client.
I find it works better to look at yourself before that.
Who are you and what business do you do best? What problem can you solve? And, of course included in this conversation must be What do you love to do?
If you don’t know the answer to that in a couple of short, succinct sentences, you won’t know who to target to buy your product or service.
Only you can define the exact nature of your business and the problem you solve for consumers, look at who else is delivering a similar product or service in the marketplace. Check out their websites; Google them for more details. Try to determine who their ideal clients are.
Then narrow your search to the smallest niche of the total marketplace that you can imagine.
In other words, what client out there is going to find what you are doing really special? Who is going to appreciate the skill that you have the most? Who is going to have a continual need for what you produce or the service you offer?
Build an entire profile around that customer. What is the problem that you will be able to fix for them? How many times a year will they need what you are offering? What age or gender are they? Where do they live, and not just geographically, but are they rural or urban dwellers? Do they have children? Do they work? What do they do when they are not working? What events would they likely go to? What blogs or magazines would they read? What television shows or videos would they watch?
You are now ready to build your customer avatar.
It is vital to have this information from the start so you can ensure that all of your marketing materials and resources are geared to appeal to or intrigue this type of customer.
From this marketplace, how will you know which clients are just perfect for you?
They are the clients who you can help the most. They are the ones who are going to appreciate what you do and stay loyal to you and your product or service. They will be aware that others do what you do, but they want you because they can’t imagine anyone doing it better.
You are in business to make money, of course, but you are also working for yourself to do purposeful work, and having the ability to satisfy clients is all part of the rewarding work experience you crave.
From your client pool, look for those clients who have the income to continually pay for the service or product you want, and who will be repeat business year after year.
If you do business with other businesses, look for ones that have been around for at least a couple of years and which show clear potential for growth. A great way to build a relationship is to grow your businesses together.
And for your peace of mind, look for the clients who are reasonable to deal with, who have reasonable expectations and are grateful when their needs are met.
Lots of businesses will take the dollars from extremely demanding clients because they believe it is all worth it even if the client is given to yelling at them, insisting work be done over, and often slow to pay.
It might be, but for most small businesses, it isn’t. If you have to placate a customer over and over and over again, you are not going to have the time to create new customers and grow new products and services. When you are starting out, it is not as if you have a big complaints department to sooth the ruffled feathers of unreasonable clients. It will fall on your shoulders and it’s a burden you don’t need at this stage of your business (if ever).
If your customers are slow paying and you have to make repeated calls for your funds, they don’t respect you or your work. Drop them now or get used to having to put off your creditors while you wait for people with more money then you to get three phone calls and a letter before they pay.
What is happening if you are attracting the wrong kind of clients?
You are sending out the wrong kind of marketing messages.
For example, if you want the people who appreciate the value of what you offer, you are not going to attract them if all of your marketing material is focused on offering the lowest prices in your area. You are going to get the frugal-minded and as soon as one of your competitors offers a slightly better deal, they will desert you with the speed of an Olympic athlete racing downhill.
One of my favourite quotes from Seth Godin is “Be better. Be different. Or, be cheaper. The last one is not much fun.”
Make sure that every part of your marketing plan sends the same message.
If you are going to run a professional Bookkeeping or Accounting firm that caters to tax preparation help for small businesses, for example, talk about your impressive experience in this field and show images of you with clients in business attire.
If you want to tap into the university student market, however, talk about your competitive prices, fast service, and tell how you support local universities by hiring a team of students to help customers compile their returns.
On the other hand, if you live in a community where a large number of people earn their living cutting and hauling wood, or fishing, or operating home-based businesses, make sure that they get the message that you have special expertise in their particular field.
Those clients have specific needs and they want to know that you understand the rules and regulations that govern what they can claim and not claim before they will be inclined to engage with you.
Taking the time to pause and plan on the type of clients you want to build your firm around will pay you back dividends over and over again.
Thank you for reading. Until next time. Take care.
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