Tips for creating an ideal client profile and putting it to work
Everywhere you look for advice about creating highly effective marketing campaigns first directs you to creating a client persona or an ideal client profile. In fact, if you do a Google search for “how to create an ideal client profile,” you’ll get 761,000 results, and “create a client persona” returns 633,000 results.
It’s a hot topic and a confusing topic. You understand the need for an ideal client profile. You know that markets across the board are flooded with competition, it’s becoming harder and harder to rise above the noise and get noticed, and that an ideal client profile is critical to marketing success.
You know that specific, segmented marketing campaigns work better than general, broad-based marketing campaigns. You know that speaking to one person is more effective than trying to speak to an entire target market. But you don’t quite know where to start.
How do you create an ideal client profile? What should be included in a client persona? How do you find the information you need for the ideal client profile? And how do you use that client profile once you create it?
These are all valid questions and this article will finally give you some answers. We’re going to start with nine different sets of data and information you want to evaluate when creating your ideal client profile. Then we’re going to look at ways you can find and gather that data. And finally, we’re going to discover how to put your final ideal client profile to work for you.
9 tips for creating an ideal client profile
The best marketing campaigns are highly focused, specific and segmented — and they require an ideal client profile.
They are a client you are excited to work with now and want to continue to work with in the future. Your ideal client profile is a representation of your real perfect-fit clients that is based on data and research. It is not a wish-list for a client that doesn’t exist.
When gathering data and information for your ideal client profile, it is best to be as specific as possible and to include as much detail as possible.
Here are nine ways you can look at and evaluate data to create your ideal client profile:
1. Ideal client demographics
Demographics explain who your ideal client is.
A demographic profile is a collection of objective, factual, statistical data about a specific group of people often used by companies to segment and target their marketing for better results. This data is similar to the data often found in census documents.
The first step in solidifying your ideal client profile is to get clear on exactly who your ideal client is and define their demographic profile, including:
- Mortgage amount
- Marital status
- Geographic location
- Number of children
- Vehicle type
- Education level
2. Ideal client psychographics
The next step to really understanding who your ideal client is to create a psychographic profile that builds on the demographic profile.
Psychographics is the data about a specific group of people that focuses on attitudes, aspirations, interests, lifestyle, and other psychological criteria. This data explains why clients buy from you and what their motivation is to buy.
Unlike the objective facts of demographics, psychographics is more touchy-feely, focusing on the soft information.
It covers things like:
- Mindset and attitude
- Beliefs and opinions
- Aspirations, goals, dreams and wishes
- Interests (parenting tips, pet ownership, travel, wealth building, weight loss)
- Activities (hobbies, books, stores, restaurants, TV shows, movies, how they spend their free time)
- Personality and values
- Lifestyle and priorities
- How they spend their money
- Worries and fears
3. Ideal client behavioral analysis
Behavior analysis is the process of understanding the behavior of a specific group of people. In an ideal client profile application, this builds on the demographic data and psychological information, to look at how they make decisions on what to buy, when to buy, and how to buy.
The behavioral analysis of your ideal client focuses solely on their behavior and the actions they take in relation to what you are selling and offering. Some things you will look at in your ideal client profile behavioral analysis are:
- Internal marketing data, such as what types of email they open most, what blog posts are most read, what email subject lines perform the best, what social media posts have the most shares
- Analytics data to identify what action, email, blog post, sales page, ad, etc. triggered a sale
- Real feedback — good and bad — from clients and customers about their experience with your brand, products, and services, both online and off.
- When sales have increased and why — time of year, holiday, special promotion
- Find out why repeat customers continue to buy and what motivated new customers
- Who uses your product/service the most, how to do they use it, when do they use it (time of day, day of week, frequency)
- How potential clients and customers gather information before making a purchase
- How are they affected by price, quality, convenience, and prestige
4. Ideal client background story
Another way to really understand your ideal client and where they are in their buying journey is to understand their background story and to be able to tell the story in a compelling way that resonates with similar people.
Your ideal client’s background story is the story of how they got to where they are today. You need to know where they began, what challenges they faced, what they achieved, and where they are right now.
By understanding exactly where they came from, you can segment your market stories and messages to have resonance with potential new clients and customers.
And when they resonate with your message and feel like you “get” them and what they need, it’s much easier to close the sale.
5. Ideal client destination
A lot of marketers will tell you to sell based on benefits instead of features. Or they’ll advise you to lead with the benefits and follow up with the features. Or, they might even talk about how benefits target the emotions behind buying decisions, while features feed the logic of a buying decision.
All of these tips and approaches are true, but to create the most effective marketing messages and sales copy possible, you can’t stop there. You need to take it a step further to fully understand the benefits of the benefits — or the final destination your ideal clients want to reach.
Describing the benefits of your product or service is the first step. Then you need to look at the effect each benefit has on them and their life or business. Again, what is the benefit of the benefit? What is the ultimate reward and destination they dream about reaching?
6. Ideal client future story
Once you know the background story of your ideal client and the destination they dream of, it’s time to write the story of what they can and will achieve in the future if they hire you, buy from you, or subscribe with you.
A persuasive and compelling future story puts the psychographics you defined to work, speaking about the benefits your products or services deliver, how those benefits will improve and change the life and/or business of your ideal client, and what magical destination they will reach if they choose to invest.
The future story of your ideal client brings to life the journey from your ideal clients are right now to where they most want to be, and illustrate how your product or service can help them get there.
7. Ideal client objections
Objections are an inevitable part of any sales process. Whether it’s the need to ask or consult with a spouse, more time to think about it, the desire to do more research, the requirement of more money, not enough time, fear of judgement, or even too much effort, at some point a potential client or customer will have an objection and consider saying no.
When you take the time to dig deep and gain clarity about the most common objections prospective clients and customer have and why they show up, you are able to combat the objections in advance. This provides the needed emotional reassurance and factual justification in your marketing messages and sales copy.
8. Ideal client risks
Just as you need to look at the benefits your ideal clients will experience when they invest with you, you also need to look at the risks they might encounter, including positive risk and negative risk.
- Positive risk: Positive risks are risks that have a positive outcome, including the risk of having too many clients, making so much money they need an investment strategy, needing more inventory on hand or a larger warehouse, being bored because of so much more free time.
- Negative risk: Negative risks are risks that have a negative outcome, including the risk of missing out on an opportunity, losing new business, falling behind, feeling overwhelmed, continued stress, financial struggles.
By knowing what they risk gaining and what they risk losing, you can target your marketing messages and calls-to-action, as well as and segment your audiences to speak right to a specific ideal client profile.
9. Ideal client day-in-the-life
One other great way to get to know your ideal client is to define an “Ideal Client Day-In-The-Life.” Create a roadmap or schedule of what a typical day looks like for your ideal client. Define things like:
- Do they wake up early and have time for coffee and some reading before their work day begins or are they hitting snooze three times and dragging their butt out of bed?
- Do they eat a healthy breakfast or rush out of the house and grab something on the way?
- Do they take their kids to school? Pick them up? Are they the taxi for after school activities?
- Do they bring their lunch to work or go out to lunch?
- How many meetings to they have? How many phone calls? Do they have a code, and office, a shared workspace?
- Are they squeezing in personal errands? How long is their commute?
- Do they have to dress up? Is their work attire casual? Are they uncomfortable or comfortable? Do their feet hurt?
- Do they cook dinner or eat out or order take out? Do they have the meal prepped ahead of time? Are they eating fresh or frozen foods?
- How do they relax and unwind at night? Do they watch TV, read, surf social media, play with the kids, go for a walk, play sports, exercise?
- What time do they go to bed?
- What are they focused on? What do they worry about? What causes them stress? What creates frustration?
Knowing what a day in the life of your client persona looks like is extremely valuable when crafting the marketing stories you will tell in blog posts, in presentations, on sales pages and website pages, and in sales conversations. Why? Because you’ll be able to connect with your ideal clients on a more personal level with stories that position them as the lead character.
How to get the data you need to create a client profile
Now, I know you’re reading this and thinking, “Woah…That is a lot of information to gather. How am I going to find all of this data?”
I know that clearly identifying your ideal client demographics, psychographics, and behaviors, understanding their background story, dream destination, and future story, and knowing their objections, risks, and what a day in the life looks like for them is a lot to ask. But, if you do the work and gain this deep level of clarity about exactly who you your perfect client or customer is, everything about your marketing and sales process will become simpler and easier.
Here are a six ways you find the information you need to craft a powerful ideal client profile:
1. Review your internal data
First, look at your own data, including Google Analytics, social media analytics and insights, email open rates and email marketing analytics, and CRM data that you have gathered from/about clients.
2. Grade your clients
Second, create a report card for your clients and give each one a grade. Evaluate them on how easy they are to work with, how much you like them, how much profit they generated, how often they buy, if they refer others, how they found you, how quickly they pay, etc.
Then take all of your Grade A clients and look for all commonalities between them. What do they have in common, what similarities can you find? Add in the most profitable Grade B clients and again compare for common traits and descriptors.
3. Host a survey
Third, send out a survey. Surveys are a great way to gather the information you need, and open-ended questions work especially well for gathering psychographic data. They key to creating a successful survey is to first know exactly what type of data you are looking for and what you want to know from the respondents.
A survey is especially helpful when you want to ask former and current clients about their experience with you and/or your company, brand, staff, and marketing efforts. When they are providing feedback through a survey instead of an actual person, the answers will tend to be more honest and accurate.
4. Perform client interviews about them
Fourth, schedule interviews with your Grade A and even your best Grade B clients to learn more about them. This is your opportunity to let them know how much you love working with them and that you’d like their help to create an updated ideal client persona — all they have to do is answer some questions and talk about themselves.
In your interviews, you can ask soft, touchy-feely questions like:
- What do you dream of achieving?
- How have you have benefitted from our product or service and how it has changed your life or business?
- What would you say to others who aren’t sure if they should buy?
- How do you think we’re different from others?
- Where are you struggling? What is keeping you up at night?
- What are you most interested in?
- What do you wish we offered and why?
- What do you secretly hope for that no one else knows?
The key to making sure that your interviews are effective is to keep them focused on their experiences related to you and your business, brand, product, or service. So you don’t want to hear about any dream, just the dreams they have related to this area of their life or business.
5. Personal research
Fifth, get down and dirty and do the manual labor. Go to networking events and talk to people you wish were clients about what they are struggling with and looking for. Comb through social media sites and look at the profiles of people following your competitors, especially those who are engaged and like, comment, share, and retweet. Ask questions on social media. Use good old Google search and type in questions your ideal clients may ask and see what comes up.
Whether you do it yourself or hire it out, sometimes there is no substitute for tried-and-true manual labor. Believe me, taking the time for personal research can be a complete game changer.
6. Get client personas for complementary businesses
Sixth, connect with complementary (but not competitive) businesses who target the same ideal client and share ideal client profiles. Set up a meeting to talk about, share and compare the data and information you have.
When done with the right partners, this can be highly effective for both parties because you may identify blindspots, areas you hadn’t yet explored or thought of, or discover a new segment of your ideal client profile.
How to put your ideal client profile to work
Once you have the data and information, and you have used it to create your ideal client profile — a detailed description of your perfect client or customer — it’s time to put your ideal client persona to work:
When writing content for your business, and bringing that content to life through design, every word needs to be targeted to your ideal client profile. This goes for all kinds of content, including blog posts, video scripts, webinars, sales pages, your elevator pitch, social media posts, your email newsletter and presentations.
Likewise, all design elements need to take the ideal client profile into consideration to ensure that the visual appearance attracts the right prospects, supports the message, and helps facilitate resonance with the potential client or customer.
Writing to one person — your ideal client — allows you to be highly specific in your marketing and sales copy. You can personalize the message just for them.
During the sales process, when a someone feels like you are focused on them, you get them, you care about them, and you want to help them, the probability of conversion skyrockets.
If you have enough data, you can to segment your ideal client persona even further.
For example, not every client will be in the same phase of your customer life cycle at the same time. Some will be brand new to your product or service, some will be in the middle of their life cycle, and some will be coming to the end of their relationship with you.
Ensure your marketing efforts as as effective as possible by creating unique marketing campaigns targeted to the clients and customers in each stage of the customer life cycle.
The same holds true for the buying process your potential clients and customers move through. Segment your prospects by where they are in the buying process and create marketing campaigns, blog posts, and social media posts that speak to exactly where they are at and give them exactly what they need.
Many people believe that by narrowing your focus to one ideal client, you will alienate all of the potential clients and customers you may have had otherwise and miss out on potential sales. In reality, the opposite is true.
I’ve said many times that defining an ideal client is like creating the center circle bullseye on a dart board. Your ideal client profile will help ensure that all of your marketing darts aim directly for the bullseye, but because we’re human, some darts will hit the outer rings of the dart board. These darts represent those clients and customers who might not match your ideal client profile perfectly, but match parts of it.
We don’t send these potential clients and customers away. Instead we welcome them with open arms along with our perfect-fit ideal clients.
It’s also important to understand that there are also potential clients and customers who resonate with your message not because they match your ideal client profile, but because:
- They admire the person your ideal client is
- They someday hope to be the ideal client
- They feel some similarities between themselves and your ideal client
A deep understanding of exactly who your ideal client is can also be a guide as to what information you need to provide to help prospects, clients and customers make a buying decision.
For example, someone buying a new iPhone needs one set of information to make a buying decision, while a current Apple customer who is debating whether to get the newest iPhone, needs a completely different set of information. They both also need unique marketing campaigns targeted to where they are in the buying process.
Using the information you have about what is important to your clients, what they dream about, what they want to achieve, what problems they want to fix, and what drives your ideal clients to make decisions, provides you with everything you need to create effective marketing campaigns that naturally guide your prospects, clients and customers to a conversion.
It is also going to help you make decisions. In the future, when you’re faced with a marketing decision or you’re unsure about a particular message or campaign, or you’re faced with a decision about your own business, you can ask, “Will my ideal client like this?” If the answer is yes, move forward. If the answer is no, skip it.
Keep your message strong
When you use broad, general marketing messages that try to appeal to everyone, they end up appealing to no one. Why? Because the wider audience you try to speak to, the more diluted your marketing message becomes.
By investing time and resources into creating a specific, detailed, powerful ideal client persona, you are crafting a roadmap for all of your sales and marketing campaigns that outlines exactly who you are speaking to, what they need to hear at each phase of the buying process and customer life cycle, and what stories you can tell to attract attention, create resonance, and build a relationship. As a result, your sales and marketing efforts will be more effective, which will cut down on marketing costs, reduce time to conversion, and increase sales and referrals.
Image by: avrene via Visualhunt / CC BY