Why is it important to CLEARLY identify your ideal client?
So we’re talking about ideal clients today, and I want to start off with a story about coffee.
I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I go from drinking it all the time to never drinking it. Right now, I’m drinking it all the time. Everyone loves coffee, right?
So I want you to imagine a small coffee shop opening up in a busy city. There’s Starbucks everywhere, other coffee chains all over the place that are really well-established. So the owners of this little coffee shop love coffee, of course, and they did a lot of testing and research, and they have the best coffee around, but maybe you can relate to this – they struggled to stand out despite how good their coffee is among all their competition and actually attract clients.
So their business was struggling, but they took some time to learn about marketing and they realized that they had been targeting the wrong audience, the wrong ideal client. They had been trying to appeal to everyone who likes coffee, hoping that their really good coffee and their atmosphere would be enough to attract a wide range of customers.
Who wouldn’t want that, right? The more, the better.
But they discovered that there was a specific demographic in the area that was loyal and consistent and told their friends about the coffee shop and the coffee, and that was young professionals who were looking for a quiet place to work and study. So the owners, when they realized this, they revamped their marketing strategy and they started to emphasize the coffee shop’s free, super-fast Wifi, and comfortable seating and quiet atmosphere.
They started hosting events and workshops that were aimed at young professionals, and they advertised their business on social media channels that they knew that demographic was on.
They weren’t trying to be everywhere. They were places where their ideal client was, and they were doing things that they knew would attract that ideal client.
So what do you think happened to this coffee shop? They really niched down and excluded kind of a lot of people, right? Of course, they saw a significant increase in sales and they were able to build a loyal customer base of young professionals who appreciated the space and the services that the coffee shop provided.
So was that the perfect coffee shop for everyone? Was it good for a busy mom who wanted to order coffee on an app and grab it on the way to daycare? No, probably not. That coffee shop didn’t even have an app. Was it good for a chatty group of older women who met for a Bible study on Tuesday mornings. No, probably not, right, because it’s a quiet atmosphere.
But this coffee shop, I hope you can see coffee shop and photography parallels here. This coffee shop was perfect for one specific group of people, and that’s what made the coffee shop success. This shows us the importance of identifying your ideal client and marketing.
Hear me on this – when you understand who your target audience is, you can tailor everything that you do in your marketing to better appeal to that ideal client’s specific needs and preferences. And this is what helps you attract the right clients, build a loyal following, and ultimately grow and book out your business.
If your client is a new mom, you’re probably not advertising in a brewery. Well, maybe you would, I don’t know. But you have to think about who your ideal client is.
If your ideal client is a 20-something bride, you’re not going to go partner with midwives. Chances are a 20-something bride isn’t connecting with midwives.
Those are super high-level basic examples and we’re going to get deeper into this episode some more specifics and going beyond the basics, but hopefully this coffee shop example shows you how powerful knowing your ideal client really can be.
Don’t Skip This Part!
It’s Marketing 101, and we’re going to talk more about how to identify this ideal client later in the episode, because I know a lot of times people are like, “Okay, conceptually, I understand it, but how do I actually make it work for me?” We’re going to talk about that.
Please do not skip or skim this. This is so important. Most photographers skip over this.
In Marketing School for Photographers, this is one of the very first things that I teach new students because it’s the basis of everything else that we build our marketing around.
So if you skim over this, you’ll end up wasting time in the long run because you’ll be making social media content that doesn’t get seen by your ideal client, and you’re going to struggle to stand out and attract the right kind of clients. And you’re going to say, “I’m posting consistently, why isn’t it resonating? Why am I not booking my ideal clients?”
It’s because you haven’t clearly identified who it is that you’re trying to reach. And if you don’t get this figured out, no matter how many Facebook ads you run or how consistent you are, or how good your sales are, knowing your ideal client in a deep and intimate way solves these problems.
So when you’ve finally mastered this ideal client profile, literally everything becomes easier. It’s the easy button. So if you’re thinking like, “Huh, I saw so-and-so is offering this new product, should I offer that new product?” You just ask yourself, “What is my ideal client?” (Mine’s name is Jennifer.)
I say, “What would Jennifer like?”
And if you’re like, “Okay, everybody’s talking about TikTok, should I be on TikTok?” Well, is your ideal client on TikTok?
Or, “Should I partner with this specific vendor?” Well, is that vendor someone that your ideal client would use?
It makes business decisions so much simpler when you’ve mastered this.
Now, occasionally people will be like, “I already know who my ideal client is. This is too basic. Don’t make me do these exercises again. I’ve already done this once, I know who she is, let’s move on to the juicy stuff and let’s talk about Instagram.”
If that’s you, I would lovingly say…why would you only do this once? Isn’t your business just like you and your ideal client – constantly evolving.
Why wouldn’t you want to know your ideal client on the deepest level possible so that you can serve them on the deepest level?
This is something that Lydia and I talk about all the time, frequently going back and redoing a lot of the stuff that we’re going to talk about here today, once a year to just get a pulse on who this person is that you’re trying to reach and refreshing it.
This is not a once and done type exercise. Sure, you can do it one time, but why would you only do it one time when you could really get to know this person on a much deeper level? I was on a call with someone who wanted to work with me one-on-one, and she said, “Okay, if you’re going to tell me I need to figure out my ideal client, I’m going to leave you a bad review.”
And it’s not just her. A lot of photographers have this attitude, including old Tavia. I thought that if I did this once, I was good to go. That I quickly learned that this is not a once and done activity.
If you build the kind of business where your clients are referring you like crazy and coming back to you for multiple sessions and they all kind of feel like you’re friends, and marketing becomes so simple, I can guarantee it’s because you know your ideal client inside and out.
Figuring Our Your Ideal Client
“Okay, Tavia, I got it. I understand the power of this. I need to do it more frequently, but how do I actually figure out who my ideal client is? I’ve worked with a lot of people and I can see the pros and cons of working with all of them. So how do I choose and how do I know which one is the right one?”
Which ideal client profile, which previous client is the right one? And that’s a good place to start. Because when we’re working on something so important, it’s normal to put a lot of pressure on getting it right. It’s important and we want to get it right. The problem is when we stress and put pressure on it, when I’ve had all this build-up and you’re like, “Okay, I get it. It’s important,” then we start to go, “Okay, well I’ve got to get it right,” and we put pressure on ourselves, we either:
- Procrastinate and never actually do it, or
- We second guess ourselves constantly.
So let’s take the pressure off.
This is an exercise that you’re going to do multiple times over the course of your business. This is something that you’re thinking about and tweaking and learning every day, week, month, year in your business. So let go, let’s take some pressure off, it’s okay if you don’t do it right or quote perfectly the first time. It already feels a little better, right? We’re taking some of that pressure off.
Step #1: Think About Your Ideal Client
So let’s think about who this person is. Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
You probably already know the basic things about her like age, marital status, number of kids, pets, where she lives. And if you don’t, please start there. But I’m willing to guess most of you already have a lot of that stuff. So when you know that about your ideal client, how do you know those things? Are you guessing? We’re going to call it an educated guess, because chances are this ideal client profile is going to come about based on one of a few different people:
- It could be someone that you loved working with in the past. So you’re basing your ideal client profile on someone you loved working with in the past.
I want you to pause for a second and I want you to think back to a client that you worked with and money didn’t seem to be an issue and they trusted your judgment. They weren’t second guessing you. They didn’t bring in a Pinterest list and working with them felt fun and light, and you felt like you could just photograph them all day. Like if you could just copy and paste that client over and over, you’d love everything about your job and everything would be so simple.
So if you have someone like that, then that’s who we’re going to base the rest of what we’re talking about on. So I want you to dig in, figure out if you know that person. And if you don’t, that’s okay. I’m going to give you some other options.
- It could be a version of you.
A lot of times our ideal client tends to be a lot like us, so if all else fails, consider the things that you like, the things that you worry about, the things that you hope for whenever you’re thinking about your ideal client.
- It could be a version of you from the past.
So if you’re like me, you had babies kind of a long time ago and so your ideal client profile isn’t necessarily you now, but it could be like a former version of you or a future version of you. If you’re somebody listening to this who doesn’t have kids yet, could be a future version of you, right?
- (This is my favourite!) It could be you, but with a lot more money.
So I was chatting with a marketing school student not long ago and we were on a coaching call and we were talking about her ideal client because she was having some struggles with her marketing. And it almost always goes back to like, “Okay, well who’s your ideal client?” And she said she was having a hard time coming up with who this person was. And I asked her if she thought her ideal client would be someone like her. And she said, “Yes, but I can’t afford myself, so I don’t want to base my ideal client profile on me because I can’t afford myself.”
Maybe some of you can relate to that because also there were a lot of people in the chat on that coaching call that can totally relate.
So I said, “Okay, if your ideal client is you with an additional zero at the end of your monthly (if you make $5,000 a month, your ideal client makes $50,000 a month), everything else about you is the same, but they have the disposable income to hire you. So it’s you with more money.”
Now I want you to think about what a typical day looks like for that person, what they’re worried about, what they’re hoping for, or what their problems are. Sometimes that barrier of, “It’s me, but I don’t make enough money to hire myself, so it’s not me.” It could still be you with another zero at the end, right? Super helpful when you think about it that way.
Step #2: Journal
Now that you have a basic idea of who this person is, this is the part that makes the biggest difference that people are not very likely to do. This is the part that when I say do this, what I’m about to tell you, people don’t do it.
And they wonder why their marketing isn’t working. They wonder why their social content isn’t getting seen. They wonder why they’re not booking ideal clients and it’s a hundred percent because they’re not willing to do what I’m about to tell you.
And so I hope that you will not skim past this, that you’ll take it seriously, that you’ll pretend you paid me a hundred dollars to hear what I’m about to say, and take action on it. Based on that, take action as if you paid for this, because it really has the power to transform the way that you do business when you think about your ideal client through this lens.
I want you to journal on these three questions about her:
- What is she worried about when it comes to this phase of her life?
We’re not just talking about specifically photography stuff like ‘does she want to look good in photos?’ We’re talking about in general, in her life, what is she worried about?
So if your ideal client profile is a version of you with a zero at the end, what are you worried about or were you worried about when you were having a baby, but you’ve got a zero at the end of your income? What is she scared of (or were you scared of) that you don’t want to say out loud or didn’t want to say out loud? What are your day-to-day issues? It can be big things, it can be small things, it can be tasks, it can be future-related. What small things is she worried about that seem trivial, but are important to her?
That’s the first thing I want you to journal about. To summarize, it’s all about her fears, what concerns her, and what worries her.
- What is she excited about when it comes to this phase of her life?
This is not about what is she excited about her photography session. This is what is she excited about in this phase of her life? What is she looking forward to? What does her dream day look like? That will give you so much.
I hope that you’re taking the time to journal on these things and really think about them because this is the thing that makes the difference.
- What is important to her?
When you’re journaling, you can write one word, you can write a sentence. It can just be a brain dump, whatever you need it to be. But what’s important to her? What does she value? What’s something that she doesn’t skimp or sacrifice on?
For an example, Tavia (who has another zero at the end of her monthly income), when she was having babies, would not sacrifice on food quality. Food quality is very important. And you might think that too, but you’re like, “Well, I can’t really afford to shop at Whole Foods.” Well, you with a zero can afford to shop at Whole Foods.
So when I say what’s important to her, you’re thinking about, “What was important to me or is important to me if I have another zero at the end? Food quality is a big one. I’m going to buy organic, I’m going to buy high quality meat, even if it costs $20 a pound.”
How does she spend her free time? And this can be local things. This can be in her house, this can be getting out, this can be exercising – anything like that.
- What is she posting in social media?
This is such a great way to see what is important to someone. Hear me on this, they’re putting out there what they want people to think about them.
They’re putting out the idealistic, perfect version of themselves, what they hope to be, what they aspire to be –they’re sharing that on social.
So if you’re not already following your ideal client on Instagram, this is your sign to do that. If you’re not following your ideal clients, like people that you’ve actually worked with or someone that you know that you think could be your ideal client, follow them and see what they’re posting and start to ask yourself, what are they saying about themselves with this?
What are they showing me is important to them by this post? Don’t sleep on that tip you guys. That is so valuable.
- Take Note of the Highlights!
So after you’ve journaled about all of these things, I’m imagining you’ve got a piece of paper and you’ve just brain dumped everything that we’ve just talked about, write down the highlights of what you’ve learned about your ideal client. By highlights, I mean a few words or a few sentences that will fit on a post-it note where you can see it every time you’re working. Put it in your laptop, put it on your desktop, put it on your desk. Every time you sit down to work, you can see this, post-it that’s highlighting these things that you know is important to your ideal client.
Then when you need to make a business decision, then when you need to write social media content you’re going to know exactly who you’re speaking to and you’re going to have a quick snapshot of her in your head and you’ll know how she would react or how you can make this more polarizing because you know so much about her at that point.
If you’re a student inside of Marketing School, I have a lot more exercises like this and questions to use to dig deeply into your ideal client and specific ways to use this in your marketing. If you’re not in Marketing School, make sure to jump on the wait list at thebeautyinbirth.com/waitlist to be notified the next time that we are opening up enrolment, so that Lydia and I can hop on Zoom with you in our group coaching calls and we can help you work through this.
So what do you do now? What is your next step? Hopefully at this point you’ve journaled or you’ve saved this episode and you’re planning to come back to, and you understand now how to target your ideal client and what it is about them that you’re trying to target.
It’s not just these demographics, it’s the psychographics too. It’s not just age, marital status, pets, but it’s really getting into their head and understanding their fears, concerns, what’s important to them. Because as things in the world continue to change in technology and trends, it’s so important to review and update who your ideal client is.
Imagine if I did this exercise 10 years ago and never updated it, there’s so much that has changed in the world in 10 years, in 2 years, that’s why it’s so important to continue to look at this and review it.
Always know who you’re speaking to. If you put in the work to identify and meet the needs of your ideal client and their desires, I have no doubt a fully booked calendar will follow for you.
Thank you so much for making it to the end of another episode. If you haven’t already, if you liked this episode, if you have feedback, I would love if you would take two minutes to leave a review on iTunes. If you need help doing that, you can head over to thebeautyinbirth.com/podcast and I’ll walk you through how to leave a review.
It means so much to me, and those reviews help the show reach more people so that we continue to do more episodes, bring on better guests, all that good stuff. So thank you, thank you!
And remember my friend, if you have a passion, it’s not an accident, and not everyone loves the thing that you love. I know it might feel like it, but not everyone does. So I hope that you understand that passion is unique and special to you, and you were designed to get out there and make it happen. Have a great week!