People talk about ideal clients all the time. But what in the world do they mean? Someone who pays on time? Someone who doesn't try to low-ball you every time they contact you? Projects or assignments you enjoy taking whenever they ask? An ideal client could be all of these things, but my guess is they're even more than that. Your ideal client is someone you want to work with on a regular, ongoing basis. Your business relationship with them is smooth, uneventful and pleasant.
Of course, you can't (and shouldn't) try to be everything to everyone. If you do, you'll be pleasing no one in the process. You'll get price-shopped. You'll turn into part of all that online "noise" we all dislike so much. So, how do we determine who is our ideal client and how to attract more of them as we build our client lists?
Here are my top five ways to determine your ideal client so you can start marketing to them directly online, save time and spend less time on those not-so-ideal clients.
Determine whose exact needs you are meeting with your services. Who is this person and how do your services improve their job and, in turn, their life? That's your ideal client.
Define who values what you offer, and who you value. Knowing the answer to this allows you both to move forward in your businesses. That's your ideal client.
Figure out which potential gaps you fill in your industry. The person who would want this gap filled? That's your ideal client.
Decide who is willing to accept your non-negotiables. No working on the weekends or after 6:00 pm? No last-minute jobs unless the client will pay your rush fee without balking? That's your ideal client.
Determine your differentiating factor and use it everywhere you can. This is different from number 3 above. Your differentiating factor is what sets you apart from everyone else in your language pair or field. The client who loves you for this? Yep, that's your ideal client.
To read more about how to differentiate yourself, check out Nine Ways to Stand Out in the T&I Industry.
Once you've determined who your ideal client is, you can target all of your marketing efforts and outward messaging, especially online, to appeal to them. It won't feel complicated. It won't come across as spammy. It will flow, and you will watch your client numbers rise. Of course, you'll want to constantly be aware of whether your ideal client is changing or adapting to market or industry shifts and refine your marketing and messaging to fit these changes. But once you've nailed down who that ideal client is, the rest will come!