When we start out in business one of the first things we're told to do is define our target audience. In most cases, this is the part where we define their Gender, Age, Location, Income etc. etc. etc. In marketing terms, you've probably heard this called your 'customer avatar'.
Whilst this can be helpful to understand a bit more about the client's you're potentially targeting, it doesn't really get to the heart of the matter. It doesn't help you build relationships with real-life dream clients. Instead, it's kind of like creating that big long-list of things you'd like your future partner to have, and then sitting idly waiting for them to drop right in-front of you. This approach is likely to have as much success as the married at first sight contests do in actually finding love.
Building up this fictional idea of your dream client doesn't help anyone, and it definitely doesn't help you. I was guiding a client through the process of attracting more dream clients into her business, when she turned to me and said:
"Does my dream client even exist?"
This stumped me, because I knew her dream client existed - I'd seen them, spoken to them and I could've even BEEN one of them. But to her, the idea of a dream client, or customer that met all the specifications of her 'avatar', was as mythical as a Unicorn.
When you sit down and create your 'customer avatar' you're thinking of all the things YOU'D like your dream client to be. But as the saying goes, you don't know what you don't know. That's why it's so important to start with the types of things you know you help people with, and then get to know these people on such a deep level that you understand everything there is to know about them. When you create your business on your Unicorn client, you're left waiting for that person to find you.
For me, it's not really whether your dream client exists, it's whether you're meeting their needs adequately. When you dive deeper into getting to know them, you're able to fully understand all the facets of their life that are culminating in the problem you solve for you clients happening. When you understand this, you can build your business (read: blog content, social media posts, newsletter opt-ins, products and services) to meet their exact needs.
Unfortunately, many of us fall for the facade of 'Build it and they will come' when it comes to growing our business' resources. To ensure that you're never left wandering in the dark, wondering what to create or write about next, I've put together our step-by-step approach to getting clearer on whether or not your dream client ACTUALLY exists (and how you can go about finding them!).
Defining The Unicorn
The thing with mythical creatures is that it's hard to determine if they exist, because it's hard to get a clear understanding of what they actually look like. A quick google search of 'what does the Loch Ness monster look like' produces some rather disturbing results of elephants mixed with dinosaurs.
The same can be said for defining your dream client. We first need to know what kind of 'unicorn' we're looking for!
First we want to work out who they are
If you've read that and shrugged your shoulders asking 'how long is a piece of string?' then you're not alone. There's so many options available to you as to who your dream clients could be, it can be difficult choosing a direction. At the end of the day though, working with these clients should light you up. You should be getting a notification on your phone for a client meeting and be ecstatic not dreading jumping on Skype.
To work out who your dream clients are think of three people you've absolutely loved working with. Write their names across the top of a piece of paper. For each one of these, write out three things that you loved about working with them.
This can be absolutely ANYTHING you want! It might be that they paid your invoices almost instantly, making cash-flow a breeze. It could be that they never once had to reschedule an appointment. Or maybe it's that they were totally open to exploring your unique way of working and it felt like a real collaboration between you.
Of course, these elements can be tangible as well. It could be they were in the same town as you, which meant you could conduct face-to-face coaching sessions. It could be that they of a particular age, gender and background. Maybe they are experiencing a particular problem that you just LOVE to solve.
Now you should have 9 items that your dream clients entail (three for each of your favourite three clients). Some of these might be the same for all three, and that's totally okay. Looking at your list, circle the ultimate three that you'd love EVERY client that works with you to have. This is your new guide-post for finding and attracting these dream clients.
Secondly, work out who they’re not
Defining who your dream clients are can feel like you're potentially saying no to a whole bunch of people that don't fit the mould and that can feel like you're leaving a whole lot of money sitting on the table. But the fact of the matter is that you don't actually WANT to appeal to everyone.
Narrowing in on the type of people you're wanting to attract into your business will naturally repel others from wanting to work with you. It's a universal law, don't try and fight it.
Identifying who doesn't fit the mould of your dream client saves you time, money and sanity. Time because you're not jumping on discovery call after discovery call with the WRONG person. Money because you're not wasting your marketing budget speaking to the wrong people (and it will also result in less refunds if things go wrong!) and sanity because, well all of the above!
To identify who you're not the ideal fit to work with, think of some client experiences that haven't gone to plan (don't worry - we've all had them!). What was it about the relationship between you and the client that could've worked better?
Have you got systems and processes in place that felt overwhelming for their level of technical ability?
Have you got different communication styles?
Did they take months to pay their invoice?
Were they constantly having to reschedule or asking for things outside of what your service offers?
This doesn't have to be a negative that you're saying about the client. You're just identifying the ways in which you no longer want to work with people. (If you're needing a permission slip to say 'no' to a potential client that doesn't quite feel like the right fit, this is it!).
What Are Their Needs, Wants, Dreams and Fears?
To really understand whether your dream client exists and where you can find them, we need to get to know what they are feeling. We need to understand what they need, what they are wanting, what they dream of and what fears are holding them back from getting there.
This is my favourite way to get to know who your dream clients are. Why? Because it takes us out of the tangible things like age, gender, occupation etc and puts us in a place to actually understand the surrounding environment, emotions and things going on for our dream clients. This in itself positions us in a much better place to be meeting our clients exactly where they need us to be for them!
Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs has long been a fundamental for understanding the psychological patterns that us humans move through to satisfy our needs. The most integral need for all humans is to survive, therefore it's our physiological needs that must be satisfied first. As we move through the spectrum of needs from physiological, to safety, to love and belonging, to self-esteem and finally to self-actualisation we are met with different needs.
To understand your dream clients, it's important to grasp where they sit on this spectrum. What are their current needs? For example, perhaps your a health-coach that helps women post-partum to find their self-confidence and identity apart from being a mother. This would belong in the 'self-esteem' part of the spectrum. Where as a health-coach who helps women suffering from heart-disease would belong in the 'physiological' end of the spectrum.
Understanding your dream client's needs will help you communicate with them more effectively how you help solve a problem for them.
Once our needs have been fulfilled, our most natural next instinct is to satisfy our wants. Whilst we might have needs in other areas of our life that are still unfulfilled, it's important that you're focusing here on the exact needs and wants that you help your clients achieve.
For example, perhaps you're a business coach that works with female entrepreneurs. Your client's needs might be to simply make bank each month - paying rent, putting food on the table with a little extra for bills and amenities. Once your client has satisfied this need their mind will shift to what they now want. This could be taking themselves an overseas holiday, or an easier way to make money, or saving for their first house.
By identifying what your client wants, you can shape your content and offerings to help them see the possibilities of what they want coming to fruition.
Ahhhhh your client's dreams! When you've worked with your client to ensure their needs are met, they're ticking off all those things on their 'want' list it's time to focus on their big-dreams.
Maybe they dream of running a 10k and you're the mindset coach that will help them get there. Perhaps they dream of speaking on stage at the next big event in town. Whatever there dream is, it's important to identify what these things could be and ensure that you're building this aspirational big-dream thinking into your products and services.
Lastly, let's talk about the fears that come up. At each of these stages your client will be tackling different levels of fears.
It's important for you to identify potential fears that might come up for when they are addressing their needs, their wants and their dreams. It could be the same fears for all three, or they could be different.
When you address the fears that come up, you're better equipped to help your client move through them, bringing them back to the reason they're working with you in the first place.
Fears can present themselves in any manner of ways. It could be external fears like 'what will others think of me if I achieve XYZ?' or internal fears like 'I'm afraid of failing if I try, so I'd prefer not to try'. You don't need a psychology degree to understand the fears of your clients, tap into your own personal experience with the fear and spend time really getting to know your dream client so you're more equipped to guide them through working through these fears.
Where Are They Hanging Out?
Unfortunately, like all Unicorns, our dream clients don't come with their own built-in tracking device. Which means, it's up to us to play detective and scope out where our dream clients are so that we can catch, I mean interact with, the beautiful Unicorn that they are.
There really are endless ways to interact with your dream clients online and the amount of ways seems to just keep growing! Here are just a few ways:
- Blog on your website
- Start a Newsletter
- Join Facebook Groups
- Guest Blog
- Podcast Interviews
- Create engaging social media conversations
- Host webinars or live-challenges
As important as online communication with your potential clients is, there's also nothing like meeting your dream clients face-to-face and really getting to know them offline. Some ways you can do this are:
- Attend industry events and conferences
- Hold workshops or meet-ups
- Offer complimentary 1:1 discovery calls
- Networking events
All-in-all, it's likely that your dream client DOES exist, it's just that sometimes we're focusing our energy on the wrong things. Instead of listing out all the physical qualities you'd like your client to have, think about how it feels for both you and them to work together. Understand what makes working with your dream clients a smooth process and identify ways you can spend time getting to know them better.
What will you do this week to engage with your future dream clients? Let us know in the comments below.