Why identifying your ideal client should be step 1 of your marketing strategy
When you want to really grow a business then a marketing strategy is key to attract new clients and more work. But it’s an involved process that can get complicated.
Instead first there is a basic, and what I believe, most important step to take. You need to identify your ideal client.
When I started my accounting firm back in 1996 I was simply focused on growing the size of my firm by getting as many clients as I could. Two and a half years in and my business was a mess. I didn’t make any money. I had cash flow problems and I had way too many clients to manage effectively.
And, as well as having too many, those I did have were a mixed bag. Some were good, some were bad and some were downright awful. I had taken on lots of poor quality clients simply because I thought growing my business was about numbers – about scale.
And I wasn’t alone.
Even today I speak to many accounting and bookkeeping firms who tell the same story. They also have a mixed bag of too many clients who make their life difficult, rather than prosperous.
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Who do you really want?
So instead, before you even think about your complicated marketing plan, you have to identify your ideal client. Once you know who they are then you can start to target and attract them through your marketing.
You might want to think about having a niche. For instance you could focus on the health sector and within that could focus on doctors.
Once you have in your mind your ideal customer then all your marketing will be so much easier.
Identifying their qualities
But how do you decide who your ideal client is?
Firstly create a list of all your current clients.
Now work out which of these you enjoy working with the most. Who are the best clients on that list? This shouldn’t just be about those that pay you the most and are the most profitable for you. It should also be about who are the most enjoyable to work with.
From that those two steps you can begin to create an ideal client profile.
Share the knowledge
Once you’ve come up with your ideal client and defined their key characteristics make sure you put it into writing and share it with your team so they know your ideal client profile too.
Now you know exactly who you want to target to attract as clients then next you need to build that into your marketing. Think about the sorts of message that client profile requires. What will attract them to you? Consider how you will identify and target more of the same who fit that profile and start work on attracting them.
Exiting non-ideal clients
Of course once you’ve found your ideal clients – the ones that make you happy – you also need to consider what to do with those that don’t.
It’s only natural that you will want to get rid of the clients that don’t fit your ideal profile. But how?
You can’t afford to lose them all in one go so how do you prune the non-ideal to concentrate on the ideal?
I heard a great story a few years ago. It was from a firm that had the same problem but had a simple solution. Every time they signed up a new client that fitted their ideal client profile they celebrated by sacking two other clients. It meant that bit-by-bit they improved their client base.
They expanded with the right clients not the wrong ones.
Wishing you every success on your pricing journey
Chartered Accountant, public speaker and #1 best-selling author of
“Effective Pricing for Accountants”
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