Understanding your audience is important when it comes to marketing. But, a lot of the time, exercises like identifying your ideal client or creating an ideal client archetype, simply keep us stuck.
Because too many of us are living this story that if we don’t have things perfectly aligned, if we don’t understand every nook and cranny of our ideal clients, then we can’t take action. We can’t get visible, create content, share that content, and sell our programs and services. We wait and wait for clarity, and won’t move forward until we have it 100% (which is super hard to do without any action).
Here’s how to ditch the idea of the “ideal client” – and what you should do instead.
Don’t treat your business relationships different than any other in your life.
The ideal client exercise started as a marketing tool, as a way to identify a community of people who we wanted to speak to.
But rather than allowing this work to make content creation and sales come more naturally, we’re measuring our community – and ourselves – up to a standard that can never be reached. We’ve created checklists, boxes, requirements. We’ve put expectations on ourselves to speak directly to – and only to – these “ideal” clients. And frankly, in a successful, thriving business, that just doesn’t exist.
Just like it doesn’t exist in relationships. We might meet an amazing person, but they’re probably not going to be TOTALLY ideal, am I right?
Look for amazing clients
I believe in looking for amazing clients, rather than perfect clients. Because when we stop chasing perfection, and start serving amazing clients who are great fits for us, we start moving. We make progress. We grow. We develop. And we reach new levels in our business. (All because we’ve stopped turning down great fits just because they don’t like the “right” music or do the “right” thing on the weekend.)
When you’re looking for AMAZING clients, all you have to do is figure out what results you deliver and why those clients care about getting those results.
Ask yourself, are we a good fit?
We don’t need to know #allthethings about the people we’re meant to serve. We simply need to know that we can support them in achieving the goals they want to achieve. That we are a good fit (value alignment). That we feel capable of serving a particular person in our particular fashion.
“Does this person feel like a good fit?”
Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Trusting your intuition and asking whether or not you vibe with a client. That’s it. Do you have a little chemistry? Can you create a relationship? Can you work towards goals together?
Do we fit? Ya know, kind of like we do in romantic relationships. Our partner may not love the same kind of music as us… but we don’t care… because WE FIT.
That’s it. And, the only way to know the answer to that question is to put out content, get on the phone, and sell your services.
Stop stalling and do the REAL work
What if we started opening up our minds when it comes to who we work with?
I don’t mean we simply start working with anyone at any time for any reason. I mean, what if we stop twiddling our thumbs, hoping and wishing that the perfect client would just show up? OR, spending all our time researching them (and none of it working with people or taking action)?
What if we started with free sessions? If we explored what it would look like to operate our businesses and sell our services in a less-rigid-more-flexible kind of way? If we figured out our “ideal client” WHILE showing up and doing the work?
If you’ve spent hours creating the perfect profile of an ideal client, giving her a name, figuring out where she shops, understanding what she does on a Saturday night, and even learning what she eats any given day, then you’re exactly who I’m talking to.
Because so often we do all of this work before doing the REAL work.
We stay busy, so that we don’t have to show up.
It’s not your fault. There are so many people out there talking solely about the benefit of having an ideal client. And knowing who you serve, and who you’re talking to, is incredibly helpful – in fact, it’s non-negotiable. But, as soon as that ideal clients keeps us from doing the real work we’re here to do – the actual giving of our product or service – then it’s no longer helping.
Don’t let searching for your ideal client become an excuse
Sure, there is value in knowing who you love to work with. It’s great to understand who lights you up, who leaves you feeling energized, who you get and understand and therefore can best serve. It’s helpful, for your sake and your client’s sake, to know who are speaking to and for who your services and programs are made.
But, at this point, the ideal client pendulum is swinging way past the point of value. These ideal client exercises are becoming excuses. They’re reasons to stay stuck, to not move, to not take action. They’re becoming another justification for why we’re not ready to sell, to speak up, or to share our thoughts… because we feel like we need “MORE”… more research, more info, more clarity, etc.
And that’s the opposite of what ideal client work is supposed to do. Ideal client work that is helpful will PROPEL you forward, knowing exactly when to speak and what to say. Not the other way around.
Action beats clarity….every.single.time. Not the other way around.
So instead, let’s make a commitment to identify our audience – as a whole, as a community, through VALUES – rather than create a checklist that keeps people from working with us. More importantly, let’s stop creating another reason to not show up and serve with everything we’ve got right now.