Is there really such a thing as an ideal client? Yes. And if you don’t figure out the profile of your ideal client you can waste a lot of time and energy. There are a number of factors to consider when profiling a potential “good fit” for your organization. Here are a few things to think about when finding the right clients.
Consider the work
It may sound simple, but your ideal target customer is one who needs and wants what you do. You have the core capabilities to solve their most pressing problems. Too often when you first start out, you’re tempted to take whatever business comes through the door. Sometimes, it’s not a customer you really want. Maybe they do not have enough volume or too much volume. Perhaps, what they need does not fit well into your existing workflow, processes, and the capabilities of your company. Would it be a stretch to deliver what your customer is asking for… require a capital investment that you are not prepared to make, like adding inventory? What if it just isn’t work that you are ramped up to do?
This is not to say that you should always stay in your lane. However, the ideal client won’t make you stray too far from your strengths and distract you from your base business. Don’t let what makes you successful get lost. Think about who can benefit the most from what you offer today and who can grow with you as you expand.
The desire for quality
I believe that everyone wants to achieve a level of quality. You want to be proud of the work and be judged by the quality of it. No one wants to cut corners or turn out a product or solution that does not measure up. Early on in my business, we would get calls to do cheesy car commercials. In fact, we had done a few so we would get calls from other car dealers who saw the spots we did and wanted something similar. This was not the kind of business that I wanted. However, what you attract is what you have. So, I did the unthinkable and made a list of all the clients that we needed to get rid of. I also started to look through our client base to identify those clients who brought us the kind of quality projects that I knew would build our reputation. That was the work that we needed to feature because it would help us attract new clients. Your ideal customer should have a desire for quality that aligns with your values.
Relationship and likeability
I know what you are thinking. “I like clients who pay their bills.” I do too but there is much more to consider. In my business, as with so many others, relationships are critical. These relationships are built on open and honest communication. My ideal customer sets clear expectations and includes us in discussions about their plans. They value our input and don’t surprise us with things that may impact our relationship. They care and want to be sure that we are successful. They are true partners. You can spot an ideal customer right away. They appreciate your efforts. They tell others about you. They send you flowers…really. (And I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.) They apologize when they ask you to do something that they know is difficult.
These are customers that everyone wants to work with. There is a reason for the old saying, “People do business with people they like.” If a customer likes you and is likable, you can share challenges and be open to each other’s ideas. This produces better outcomes and less stress for all. We all want to enjoy the work. It is easier when you enjoy the people.
You may have noticed that my concept of an ideal customer is heavily weighted toward characteristics that are not often included in an ideal customer profile. Most people look to target an ideal customer based on:
- Special interests and more.
That is not to say these are not important when identifying your ideal client. They are. However, I have found that considering the type of work, the desire for quality and a great relationship is a better predictor of long-term success. So, what does your ideal client look like?