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If I asked you who your ideal client is, would be you able to describe them? Perhaps you’d tell me, “It’s EVERYONE”, “ANYONE!” or “I don’t know”.

In which case, you NEED to read this blog.

When you’re marketing a business of any kind, it makes sense to assume that you have to appeal to as many people as possible. The law of averages is that someone will be a good fit.

In reality, though, this kind of one-size-fits-all marketing can be the quickest route to disaster.

When you try to appeal to everyone, it means you have to water down your brand and messages to make them accessible to the widest possible audience. No-one can possibly appeal to everyone.

It makes it almost impossible to create a strong marketing message or even to set up a Facebook page if you don’t know who you’re talking to. This generic approach, which is all too common, leaves people asking, “Who is this business for? I don’t think it’s meant for me”.

So many people start their marketing with a website, stationery, business cards, leaflets and brochures but if you don’t know who your audience is, it’s a sure fire way to waste your cash.

The single most important thing you can do to market your business successfully is to work out who you want to work with and who would benefit most from working with you.

Get that right and your marketing strategy will thrive while your diary steadily fills up.

Who do you love working with?

If your training business is already up and running, you’ve got a great starting point. Sit down with your client list, past and present, and make a note of the individuals or businesses that you’ve really enjoyed working with.

What is it that makes them different from or better than the rest?

  • Are they from similar personal or professional backgrounds?
  • Do they share certain values?
  • Are they from a similar type of business?
  • Are they in the same job roles or have the same level of professional experience?
  • Do they share a similar outlook?
  • How did they all find your business?

Thinking about the common ground between your favourite clients could help you to pinpoint what it is about them that makes working with them so satisfying.

I would also look at the following points:

  • Which people are repeat clients?
  • Who always recommends you to their contacts?
  • Who pays your fees without quibbling?

These clients are likely to be your biggest fans so if you enjoy working with them too, it’s a win-win situation.

If it’s organisations rather than individuals that you enjoy working with, think about their common features:

  • Company size/number of staff
  • Industry
  • Challenges or goals
  • Training needs
  • Structure of the organisation
  • Customer base
  • Values/mission

Is there anything that unites your favourite organisations? Also, how important are the decision-makers within the company or specific points of contact to your positive feelings? Would you still feel the same way about the organisation if your main contact were to leave?

Who needs your services?

Of course, the client-trainer relationship is a two-way thing so it isn’t just about who you love working with, although that is incredibly important.

If you’re just setting up in business or you’ve been dissatisfied with your client list to date, you may not know who’s a good fit.

Instead – or as well as – you need to think about what kind of people or businesses stand to get the most out of working with you.

Ask yourself:

  • What does my training cover?
  • What problem does it solve or how does it make something better?
  • What kind of benefits do my training services bring to the table?
  • Why are those benefits important?
  • Who would they be important to?
  • Do your services appeal to small businesses or individuals or do you need to reach a decision-maker within a larger organisation?

The answers to all of these questions should help you to bring the target audience for your marketing into focus.

Other research avenues

You can support your initial brainstorming about your ideal client with some research. I think the following sources are helpful:

  • Look at where your audience is finding your website by using Google Analytics – this will also show you the most popular pages and give some information about your audience demographic
  • Use tools like Mention or Google Alerts to see what topics are trending in your ideal client’s industry
  • Spend some time on social media on the pages of influencers in your field to find out what people are talking about and identify issues that matter to your potential clients
  • Check out the insights on your social media pages
  • Keep an eye on your competitors by visiting their social media pages and blog to see who’s engaging with them
  • If you already have a client list, I’d recommend reaching out to those who best reflect your ‘ideal’ to ask them where they heard about your services – this is one of the best ways to find more of the same kind of clients

Your next step

With your ideal client starting to become a fully formed person in your mind, create a short description of them in writing that you can share with your team or any creatives that you brief to help you develop your brand – this is sometimes called a ‘buyer persona’.

Every time you write about your business for marketing purposes, write as if you’re speaking to this person.

Create content that solves your ideal client’s problems or improves their business. Publish case studies that show how working with you benefits people or organisations that reflect your target clients. Communicate your marketing messages where your ideal clients spend their time.

This will save you so much time and energy.

My analogy

Imagine walking into a crowded room and telling everyone there that you’re looking for someone but you don’t know who they are or what they look like. Chances are, you’d be met with a room full of blank or confused stares.

But what if you went in able to describe who the person is, what’s troubling them, where they are usually found, what they look like, and what matters to them? And what if you could show that you have a compelling reason for them to come with you?

This is what marketing to your ideal client is all about. It cuts through the crowd. It gets people to put their hands up and say, “You’re talking to me! It’s me you’re looking for!”

Get that right and it will be the highest value thing you ever do to market your business.

Who is your ideal client? Can you describe them? Are you trying to pitch your marketing too broadly? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below.

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