If you are like most entrepreneurs, one of the most confounding ideas is that there is an ideal client for you and you just have to figure out who it is.
If you don't know with certainty who your ideal client is, and this whole discussion brings up feelings of confusion, you aren't alone. Even after years of trying to come to clarity around my ideal client, I woke up in a panic one night, with a startling realization I had made a mistake.
A big mistake in defining my ideal client.When I started my consulting business in 2008, the idea of defining clients, and choosing who I wanted to work with, was a new concept. I came from enterprise sales and knew how to qualify a prospect in classical terms. I knew how to put a nurturing campaign together, and how to funnel prospects through a sales cycle.
But then I entered this world of heartfelt entrepreneurs, artisans and pioneers creating businesses from a place of passion and everything changed.
I turned to other entrepreneurs to see how they defined ideal clients.
I was fascinated with the discussions around finding our right people and went on a quest to find ‘my people.’
I desperately wanted to believe that I had people.
Here's the gist of what I gathered.
First lesson. Get Specific.
The most common method to defining ideal clients started with getting specific; gender, age, where they live, how much money they make, kids, pets, ex-spouses.
This was tough. Did it matter if my ideal client liked cats or dogs more? It didn't seem to matter a hoot if they had kids, pets, lived in the country or lived an urban lifestyle. I thought the only thing that mattered was that they had a business, an online presence, but not enough exposure through search.
My ideal client could be summarized nice and neatly. “A smart, kind small business owner who wants to increase the quality traffic to their website.”
It is just so hard to wrap the mind around ideal client exercises that feel like creative writing
I didn't understand why creating a persona was important in search marketing. I really thought because this was a search environment we could just find topical keywords. Who cares “who” is typing in the keywords; it is simply a matter of focusing on the query and domain match.
Things started to look different as I became more curious about the person searching. My approach to keyword research started to change, namely in the way I went about seeding the keyword research tools.
While keyword research helps us to understand the most common language and competitiveness of those words, the effectiveness comes from understanding the intent of the search.
Since the point is to draw the questioner to the most relevant answer, it stands to reason, we have to understand both the question and the one asking. When the focus is on understanding who is asking the question, keyword research can be used to verify assumptions and expand thinking.
Most entrepreneurs get it wrong
I became obsessed with the need for answers and for a better way to get clear on defining an ideal client - because you can't understand search intent until you are clear about the one searching.
I wanted an ideal client defining method based on best practices and proven effectiveness. The idea of knowing what would predispose one person to be a better fit than another became a quest. Creating a method to attract this right person, while they were in a search mode, was the holy grail.
Knowing with certainty and reasoning
I found the answer through buyer persona architecture and search personas. It was a start but I wanted to simplify and enhance the process. So I went to work on creating it.
Are you ready to see what is possible?
This is the story of how Empathy in Marketing was developed. I found a collaborative partner to overlay important brand voice aspects to the process of defining an ideal client.
We developed a process that did much, much more than define an ideal client.
Through our Empathy Marketing Strategy we were able to show you who is the most likely to buy (and why), what happens at the search level, and what you can do to move your right person from interest to purchase.
The whole picture includes brand, authenticity, and understanding search intent.
I partnered Abby Kerr, Brand Voice expert and Creative Director of The Voice Bureau. We have combined the worlds of Brand Voice and Ideal Clients to create synergy between the buyer and seller and ultimately a better experience for you in your business.
Empathy Marketing was brilliant and we learned so much about ourselves. Me, the innovator and "what if" person, and Abby, the creative director and "Voice" teacher. Even more importantly we learned much about our ideal clients and how to create offers that deliver a good experience.
We parted ways and shared the experience of a collaboration coming to a close in this unusual and interesting post on Uncoupling (in business).
While Empathy Marketing as a service was put on the shelf, the concepts of Empathy Marketing have become firmly ingrained in the approach we take in our individual work.
I've expanded the core element of empathy, understanding oneself as the creator of the business and brand first. You can't understand another if you've never looked deeply at your own experience. You can't design for a particular buyer if you don't understand why you are a good fit for that buyer. These foundational aspects of business are your business. Everything builds from your purpose. Getting clear about your own way of working, the way you are when you are at your best, is the foundation for creating a good experience. You can find your own innate strengths and How You Are Wired To Work as a Solo-Entrepreneur in this one of a kind assessment.
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