You've got your killer business idea all fleshed out and it's just blowing the socks off anyone you discuss it with. You're off to a really great start. Your excitement level for this new business venture has never been higher. Really, you're floating on clouds and can't wait to get your business out to your crowds of enthusiastic fans.
All those great...
The great... Photographers? Independent, women-owned businesses? No, maybe it's all those independent pastry makers out there?
Wait wait wait.
Who in the world is this great idea you've come up with actually for?
There are so many people out there that should be excited about what you're cooking up, right? But how do you know what to put on your website and business materials? Suddenly this killer business idea is starting to wobble a little bit. It's really tough to sell to somebody when you don't know who that somebody actually is.
A business for everybody is really a business for nobody
That seems like the most counterintuitive thing in the world, right? If you're anything like me, then when you start out developing this business you're absolutely thrilled about you want it to be a business that everyone can benefit from. You don't want to limit your earning potential by ignoring the scores of people in every industry who need a website or the products you're selling.
Why in the world would someone say, "Oh, you're a lawyer and you want to give me money to build a website for you? I appreciate it, but I'm currently only working with pet groomers"?
Who wouldn't take that sweet lawyer money and whip up an awesome site for them?
Crazy people, that's who.
You're going to find greater success by focusing in on a single niche that you're passionate about. The people running great businesses in that niche are going to feel like you know exactly what their problems are and how to solve them. Forget about trying to appeal to everybody. It's probably impossible to know every problem that every business deals with. There's too much out there and nobody you work with is going to feel cared for.
How do you figure out who you should sell to?
Step one: What do you love to do? What is this killer business idea of yours? If you don't know what sort of business you want to run, then you'll have a hard time figuring out who you should be marketing to.
For example: Dandy Cat Design publishes informative productivity related posts and gives away free business building guides to creative professionals.
I know I need to make posts and guides that will benefit people in creative industries. If they’re trying to design their most productive life, then I want to help them in the best way possible. Therefore, I need to make sure my business's copy and images will appeal to people who work in creative industries.
So figure out what you do first. We'll follow that by firing up our imagination engine.
We're going to create a person who doesn't exist. This will be our “ideal client avatar.” Let's break down what those words mean in this case. If we're going to spend oodles our time everyday on marketing our business, then who's the sort of person we want to appeal to? Who do we want to sell things to and receive money from? This person is our "ideal client." They're the sort of person who embodies the history, personality, and interests that would be drawn to the services or products you're selling.
"Avatar," in this case, means a visual embodiment of that ideal client. We're not going to sculpt this imaginary person out of clay or anything. Who the heck's got time for that? We are going to put an image of this ideal person in a document and write some words about them. I want you to be able to see a real human face when you imagine your ideal client. They shouldn't just be something you made up. They need to feel real to you.
The ideal client avatar
Here's my ideal client:
Her name is Amy Hunter. She's 31 years old, is a graphic designer in Southern California, has an average income of $35,000 a year, and is engaged to Will Reynolds. She has particular goals, interests, and challenges. She feels confident in the work she creates and has received high praise from the people she's worked with so far. However, she has yet to attract the interest from larger groups of people. She's certain that she can do great work, but needs help organizing her life so that she can focus on getting noticed.
As you can see, this isn't a crazy task, but it is an incredibly important one. We need to dig down deep and think about who this person we want to market to really is. It’s not something that you should just whip out in a few minutes because it may decide the future trajectory of your business.
The questions you need to answer
- The basics: What is your ideal client's name, sex, age, race, location, occupation, average income, and family?
- Goals: What does your ideal client want to accomplish in their life and with their work? What are their short- and long-term plans?
- Values: What do they care passionately about? How do they express their convictions? What do they believe in about the world?
- Challenges: What's keeping them from achieving their goals? Is it some external force or are they their own worst enemy? What do they struggle to pay for?
- Pain Points: What are the things that really needle at them? What are the specific difficulties they've had with their work or business? Do they suck at social media? Are their competitors undercutting their prices? Do they have no idea how to make a website?
- Objections: Why would they not want to give you money for your products or services? Are they struggling with money and would have a hard time shelling out bucks for your goods? Do they have any time to devote to improving their business?
- Role in the Purchase Process: Are they the main decider when it comes to purchasing things for themselves or their business? Do they have autonomy in their work or do they have to get approval from someone else for business decisions?
- Favorites: What shops do they love? What social media accounts do they follow? What blogs do they read religiously? What are their favorite websites, magazines, and tv shows? How do they spend their free time, both at home and out in the world?
Answering these eight questions will help give you a very in-depth understanding of the sort of person that may find real value in your business. This is the person who, ideally, will want to give you their money for your service or product. They're the person you should focus all your energy marketing to because they are your target market.
Once you answer those questions, hop on over to Unsplash and search for images of people who fit your image of this ideal client. This step is a bit more enjoyable, but it's just as important. The person who embodies your ideal client should have a face. How in the world can you market your business to some blank robot of a person? Find an image of your ideal client, connect with them, and put them in your document. Front and center.
An ideal client avatar may seem like a silly step to take when building your business. Spending a portion of your day dreaming up a person kind of sounds like a waste of time when you could be making a website, posting business stuff on Instagram, or working on your finances. I totally get it.
But that's the wrong way to think about this exercise.
It may feel a little silly, but making an ideal client avatar is the best way to understand who your audience is. It's a great way to help remove some of the huge question marks that come with building a business. Having clear answers to the big problems is such a relief when you're just starting out.
I want to help you even more with this. I'm giving away a totally free Ideal Client Avatar template for you to have. Use it as you're developing your business or when you want to better understand who your clients are. I'm including an Affinity Designer, Photoshop, Powerpoint, and PDF document in this freebie. Just choose your preferred version and have fun with it!
You've got this. Give it a go and enjoy having a better understanding of your clients.
You're my ideal client, cats.