Knowing your ideal client (also known as soul mate clients or avatars) is one of the most important things you can do in your business planning because it shapes all of your marketing activity. It forms the foundation for your brand, your message, your services, your copywriting for your website, images and colours you choose, and any adverts or promotions you may make. As holistic therapists working with animals, you may have an ideal client profile as well as their ideal client owners’ profile in mind.
Designing your business strategy for this person means your brand comes across as approachable, warm and friendly. It helps you to build rapport and your clients will feel like you have taken the time to understand them and their needs. Your brand will resonate with them in a deeper way.
Think about a particular brand that you really love. What is it about them that resonates with you? How does it make you feel to buy their products or services? How do they let you know that you’re a perfect match? What makes you so loyal to them? What shared values do you have? Step back and be objective about how this brand communicates to you, so that you can understand how this can work in your business.
In this blog, I’m going give you an exercise on how you can create your ideal client profile and reassure you of the top 3 common objections people give when asked to complete this exercise.
Knowing Your Ideal Client
Use these questions to answer questions about who you would like to attract:
It really helps if you can give this character a name (for example, my ideal client is named Dorothy). This helps to make it as life-like as possible. That way, anytime you create something, you can ask “what would Dorothy think about this” or “what’s Dorothy worried about? How can I help her”?
It makes everything more personal and helps you to connect you to your message.
This exercise is quite challenging and some questions you may find really hard to answer. When I first did it I thought the questions were irrelevant, but please give it a go and do your best to answer them all! There is a reason for them – as they help you to understand them in more depth.
Here are some common objections I hear from my clients on why they do not want to pick an ideal client or a niche area to work in.
Objection 1: I can help everyone.
This is an objection I hear a lot. Clients say “I can help lots of different types of people, or animals, so I don’t want to miss out on potential customers”.
Do you share this fear that being selective about who you work with will limit your business potential?
Let me reassure you that this is not the case. The clearer your offering is, the more likely you will set yourself apart from the competition and attract clients who are a perfect match for you. If your offer is too broad or confusing, and customers have to work hard to understand if you can help them, they will turn away. Confused people do not take action. When you can speak directly to them, telling them that you understand them and know exactly how you can solve their problem and what steps to take, you make the decision making process so much easier.
You will likely enjoy your work more, because you get to work with the most suitable clients. This in turn will give you fantastic reviews and testimonials. You can become an expert in your field and start to build your reputation as the go-to person.
Objection 2: I’ve only just started my business – I’m happy with any paying client to build my confidence and gain experience.
I know this feeling well! When I first started my business I had no idea that ideal client profile was even a thing and I was just so happy to be coaching whenever I got the opportunity. This is a normal first step out of training and I call it “the experimental phase”.
If you are fairly new in business then give yourself the time to work with different types of animals, owners and situations. This experience can be very informative and I recommend keeping reflection notes after sessions. Ask yourself some open questions:
What was their problem? Why did they come to me? (think beyond just their symptoms if you can- what else is going on in their life?)
Do you have a favourite client? What is it about them that makes you like working with them so much?
Do you have a client that you don’t like working with? What is it about them that makes you feel like this?
What can this tell you about what types of clients you would like to work with more of the time?
You can also go back and review case notes from your most recent clients. What connects them and their stories? What do your recent clients have in common?
I remember a particular client that I coached in the early days of my business. He was referred to me and after a positive discovery call, he booked 5 sessions. This client turned up late, sometimes not at all. I didn’t have experience of coaching someone like him before and felt a little intimidated. He didn’t want to bring spirituality into the sessions and I realised that when we coached, I would have to leave a big part of me at the door. I realised that I preferred to work with people who were open to energy and spirituality because it gave the work the depth that I loved. I wouldn’t have known that without stepping out of my comfort zone and coaching a mixture of different people.
Please know that there are no “bad clients”. They can teach us so much about our boundaries, our preferences and ways in which we can improve.
I asked if he was truly ready for coaching and suggested that perhaps the timing wasn’t quite right for him. He agreed and we parted ways before the end of the 5 sessions. I put it down to experience and vowed to be more discerning about who I worked with in future. I received an email from him 2 years later to say that the coaching we had done had changed the direction of his life and how grateful he was. I learned that you can trust that you are making a difference, even if it seems a bit messy at the time.
This experience taught me a lot about my “not-so ideal” client!
Objection 3: I like variety, what if I get bored?
This fear often comes from the kind of people who struggle with consistency and fear that systems and structure will be so boring!
I get it! I used to think that too! I am the kind of person who loves starting new things and love the thrill of a new project or planning an idea!
Because I was so busy starting lots of new things, I rarely had the time to see anything through to the end, which meant I never got the results I was looking for. It was frustrating. It felt like I was on a hamster wheel – working hard but never getting very far. I got used to the adrenaline of a stressful, chaotic life. Eventually, I ran out of adrenaline and it had a serious effect on my health. I’m not saying that everyone takes it to this extreme, but the Russian proverb “chase two rabbits, catch none” rings true.
I knew I needed to change. I developed the discipline to see projects through to the end. I even started reading one book at a time! I picked one business idea, honed in on my ideal client and steadily began to see results. I parked new ideas into my journal and spaced out new projects throughout the year which reduced that overwhelming feeling that everything needed to be done at once. I found that there was freedom in being consistent. I had more time and I was more productive. I had more time for fun and although I worked less, I started achieving more. I found the less projects I had on the go at one time, the more connection I found with each project. I was able to give it more attention and go deeper, which gave it more meaning and more fulfilment.
This has parallels with the kinds of clients we are working with. If we are working with a variety of different kinds of people, we will have different messages going out. There will be inconsistency and as our brand, message and energy will be scattered and confused.
Having a consistent brand and ideal client doesn’t have to be limiting. And it isn’t fixed forever! Why not try it for six months and be open and curious as to how it works for you? You can always pivot your brand if you find that something’s isn’t aligning, but only experience will tell you this. You can experiment until you find what works – but my advice is to focus on one thing at a time so you know what’s working and what isn’t!
Do reach out if you have any questions about this! I’d love to hear how you get on with this Ideal Client Profile exercise. Personally, it was a lightbulb moment in my business that gave me clarity and direction – I trust that will be the case for you too!
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