Defining Your Ideal Client

When starting a company, it is normal to see in each and every person that surrounds you a potential client. Many times, the victims are friends and family and whoever comes along. Some of the victims take it in stride, others just seem annoyed by so much insistence.

Later, when the company is growing and staffed with a team dedicated to sales and marketing, still often times there seems to be just activity, but not really clarity across the company where to put the focus and how to get the most out of it.

There is a better way: defining the ideal client of your company.


Why define the ideal client

If a company hypothetically has 240 clients, unfortunately not all of them are ideal. Ideal is the one that you would like to clone, the one you would love to have more of. But why is it so important to define an ideal client?

First of all, if you consider every person or every company as a potential client, you will never be able to send a consistent and clear message to the market about who the company helps best and what it does best. If you want to satisfy everyone, you are not going to satisfy anyone.

Where I have been living in Barcelona for 24 years I have several times seen a company van on the street that has a sticker that literally says: We do everything. You might laugh, but kind of it is similar to what most companies do – trying to please and serve everyone.

When we defined the ideal customer at my first company it turned out to be a person between 35 and 55 years old (along with other definitions) and we realized that our marketing efforts and spendings were largely misaligned with what we really wanted more of: we had used channels like Facebook and Instagram with a communication style not adapted to our ideal client. It allowed us to make important corrections, save a ton of money and, even more importantly, we were able to significantly increase our conversion rate.

But what happens if you work with a client, that is not ideal for your company? He will cause you extra work, be less profitable, processes have to be changed… But what is worse, even doing all that, most likely the customer still often times will not be happy and possibly cause a negative reputation for your company. And on top of it, you will have an account managers burnt out for having to deal with this non ideal client.


Define the ideal client

Therefore, it is important to define the ideal client of the company and then to focus all processes and systems, as well as marketing and sales efforts on this client.

The first step is to straighten out our efforts: That is, the efforts we make to attract new clients with advertising or other commercial actions must be focused like a laser on our ideal client. All actions and expenses that are out of focus will be less profitable.

The definition of the ideal client is made through three parameters: geography, demographics and psychographics. That is, where it is, who it is and what our ideal client is like. Let’s see it in more detail:

  • Geography: This refers to where the ideal customer is. This can be the entire world, a country, a region or a city. You have to ask yourself questions about language, culture, transportation costs, means of advertising, brand, etc.

To give an example of an architecture company I have worked with, their ideal client is located less than two hours’ drive away.

  • Demographics: The demographics of the ideal customer is defining who they are. If it is a person, it is things like man or woman, age, income, profession, hobbies, etc. If your clients are companies, it would be the sector, size, turnover, products, etc.

An example of a consulting company in the food sector I work with is this: large corporations with testing laboratories.

  • Psychographics: Psychographics is where you define how they are, the desires, concerns and aspirations your potential client has. It’s the hardest part, but it’s worth investing the time and energy to find out. Because in this way your marketing and sales materials and arguments can reflect the answers to these concerns and touch the emotional part of your ideal client, the part most decisive for purchase decisions.

Another example for this part of a company in the pharma business: Seeking quality, personalized service, reliability and innovative products.

If you put it all together, as an example, here goes my ideal client: a company close to Zürich or Barcelona, with 10 to 250 employees, wants to grow but feels stuck, is willing to be open and honest, is respectful and wants help.


Keep the focus

When you stay true to your ideal client, you will have better results, more referrals, more profitability, fewer complaints, less extra work. Are you going to miss it…?

I have some clients who have taken it to the next level with an annual discipline called the dirty dozen: once a year they sort through their client list and the last ones they call the dirty dozen. And they apply one of the three following medicines:

  1. convince them to play following the rules of an ideal client
  2. raise the price to make them profitable and ideal
  3. stop working with them.

It is tough to fire your clients. Very tough. But this way they are increasingly focused on their ideal customers with increasing profits, more satisfied customers and happier employees.


Where to start

To start, meet with your leadership team and brainstorm about the three parts of who is the ideal client: where, who and how. Yes, it should be the whole leadership team, not only the marketing team. Because the rest of the team has to deliver on what the marketing team promises and attracts and sells. So you have to be aligned around it as a company.

Once you have it all on the board, refine and summarize it and communicate it to the entire company to direct all processes, systems and marketing and sales actions towards your newly defined ideal customer.

As icing on the cake, some companies create an avatar of the ideal client visible in the office and thus always and every day remember who the ideal client is and how you can make them happy.

Everyone wins: the client, the company, the employees 🙂

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