I will be the first one to admit, for a long long long looooong time I did not know who my ideal client was. I was just designing for people who wanted cool logos and my style. Oh boy, I was so unaware. But bless my previous lil self, we are not here to hate. We are here to say that if people are coming to you for a certain thing if you have a brand that has some recognition, you may already have a certain target audience you are capturing.
If you are a juice shop, maybe you notice a lot of young people or athletes. Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you are serving the 40+ moms who are committed to their health and wellness with disposable income to spend on themselves.
Finding your ideal client involves understanding who your target audience is and what it is they need.
Start by defining your niche. What are you good at? What is so specific about you, your industry, your particular service, talent, or skillset? Let me tell you, we are afraid to niche down. We think being everything to everyone is going to lead to more money and more sales, but it’s not true. You will bump into people who won’t care about you. Wouldn’t you rather serve 10 people who will come back the next day than have a line of 50 and lose the 10 who were there just for you? I get it, I operated out of this principle, too. It’s only been recently that I buckled down to say I’m brand strategy and brand design. So I’m in the trenches with you, trust me, throwing out the idea of the scarcity mindset, and committing to doing the best possible work for the best possible people.
Next, we gotta identify your target audience. As I said, I was late to the game on this. I was asked one time to list my clients, and in that my favorite clients, and it turns out, they are all in the wellness, self-aware, eco-space and I use their products and services, as they pertain to a healthier lifestyle, better eating habits, more mobility or safer/cleaner home. Brain explosion. So if you have been in business, think of who comes to your store or buys your service or product. Think of their demographics, psychographics, what are their pain points.
Market research is kind of boring to me personally, but it is so helpful. Send out surveys, attach an incentive to them (nobody has time to fill shit out, respect people’s time), and dig into as many details as you can. Analyze your competition. I do this work with my brand clarity clients. We talk about what you sound and look like, we pull up the competitor’s websites to see what you have going on around you. Sometimes it’s validation that you are not like them, and sometimes you can glean from seeing what they are doing to plug holes in your brand. This does not mean copying anyone! This means assessing them in a column next to you. Please don’t be that asshole. The truth is when you copy someone else, and at the core, that effort didn’t align with your values and ideas anyway—it won’t work. So stay in your own damn lane.
Focus on your strengths. When did we become this society (me included) that care so much about what other people think? I recently read this somewhere, two traps to avoid: caring what they think, and thinking that they care! So good. But I digress… the point is, the more you go inward the more you will find your strengths and what makes you unique. And at the end, it is what’s going to differentiate you from your competition.
And of course, test your ideas and refine them as needed. Create a product, and see if you can attract your ideal clients. If not, back to the drawing board. Often times it’s a multi-cycle process before it’s clear who your people are (or who they are for what product/service). And don’t forget, as you evolve, and as your brand evolves, you may be attracting different people, so it’s good to sit down from time to time and evaluate where you are.
Since you’ve read this far, I’ll also tell you a little secret. I have written a personal letter to my ideal client. I named her, I have attached a photo on the page, and I wrote about her like a real person. So when a new person approaches me with a request for work, if I feel/sound like they are that person on my written page—I know it’s going to be a match made in heaven.
Don’t be shy, let me know how this goes for you!