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    Finding Your Ideal Clients
    The Vault

    Finding Your Ideal Clients

    April 2017

    Can you name something everybody likes?  Vacations? Puppies? Cheesecake? Well, certainly some people like those things.  But for others, time away from the office makes them anxious, dogs terrify them, and they’re lactose intolerant.  There goes your list.  

    It’s actually really hard to think of something that absolutely everyone likes.  People are different.  We want and need different things, and how we choose favorites is really a matter of personal preference. Your business works the same way.  Quite likely, in your efforts to customize solutions for your clients, you’ve found that a great deal of folks find value in and rave about your services.  Others don’t, either because they don’t see the value in what you do, or they just don’t need your services at this particular time. It’s difficult to hear that you’re not wanted, but you make the same decisions when it comes to your vendors, too.  Just consider that first website host or IT provider you had when your business was first getting off the ground.  Most likely those companies are not helping you today.  You parted ways when the time was right for both.  It happens, and it needs to.

    But finding your ideal clients -- those who see the value in what you do, share your goals, pay their bills on time, and seek to build a lasting relationship with you -- is essential to growing and improving your business.  Here are our 3 best tips for achieving a perfect match:

    1. Define yourself (because you’re not Amazon).  

      Unlike the online retail giant, you don’t have a product for every person in the universe.  You have a specific product for a specific audience.  Identifying that audience requires that you really know yourself. What exactly do you do? What problems do you solve? What sets you apart from your competition? Who benefits from your product or service? 

      These questions may sound basic, but it’s astounding how many entrepreneurs can’t answer them inside of their (critically essential) 5-minute “elevator pitch”.   If you’re among that crowd, it’s time to get really specific about who you are and what you do. 

    2. Study your history.  

      Take a good look at current and past clients.  If you’re still working with them, ask yourself why.  What qualities do they possess that make them a good match for you?  Aim to come up with some logistical items such as job title, geographic region, annual revenue, etc., and then some bigger picture ideas like values, culture, and perspective on growth.  Once you identify those qualities, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to look for in your next prospect.

      Just as important as analyzing the “good” partners is analyzing the bad ones.  Is there a major flub in your history? Try to identify what qualities that less-than-desirable client possessed so that you can avoid partnering with similar ones in the future. 
    3. Build your ideal customer profile and get after it.

      The act of defining your customers won’t bring them to you.  You need to take the information you’ve gathered and put it to work.  To do that, you must build your entire marketing foundation on the knowledge of who your clients are and what makes them tick.  

      Where and how should you advertise to maximize exposure to your ideal customers? What vocabulary and tone should you use in your marketing efforts? What story should your content be telling?  Questions like these will hone your marketing focus and produce better relationships.

    If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to finding your ideal partners.  Still, life won’t always be perfect. Sometimes you will need to let someone go. If you do find yourself in a place where you want release a client, consider the following:

    • Be willing to have a tough conversation about your mutual goals, values, culture, and finances.  Acknowledge your differences respectfully, and suggest that it may be time to move on. Do this face-to-face whenever possible, and extend your gratitude for everything you’ve accomplished together.  Remember that your goal is to do what’s right by both parties, not burn bridges.  You never know when your paths may cross again.
    • Create a channel relationship with another firm or independent operator that might be better suited for this particular client. While this client may not work for you, they might be perfect for someone else, and providing that referral shows an incredible amount of dignity and grace on your part.

    Your health of your business relies on a strong supply of good clients.  Focus on finding the right ones, not just the new ones.  

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