I mentioned last time – in talking about knowing your why and your ideal client’s why – about the importance of knowing your ideal client, but maybe we should talk more about that. It seems very clear to me, but I know that some business owners don’t approach it the same way.
Can you take any and all business that comes your way? Sure, you can. Should you? Honestly, no, I don’t think that you should. I know that it is tempting, especially in the early stages of a business, when we are hungry and trying to pay our rent and expenses, and trying to build a business. However, the reality is that there is no way that we can be all things to all people. You have some sort of specialty, whether you’ve thought about it that way or not, and whether it is a broad or narrow one. It may be a specialty that you fell into, or one that you intentionally created for yourself, but I expect that you have one. And if you aren’t sure, at the very bottom of this post I have some suggestions for next steps in figuring out your ideal client.
Let me use my officiating business as an example. I have learned over the years that my ideal client is a couple for whom the ceremony is a priority in their wedding, and who wants their ceremony to be fun, personal, meaningful, and non-religious/non-traditional. When that client comes my way, the connection is deeper on both sides as we see eye-to-eye from the start about what their ceremony could and should be, which means that I can much more easily deliver a result that will make them happy, plus I have way more fun doing that wedding, and it therefore is a much more successful and satisfying experience for us all.
By the way, it’s not necessarily their budget nor the size of their wedding – not at all for me, actually, as my couples have a wide range for both. For some of my couples, I am the largest part of their wedding budget, while for others I am the smallest of their expenses, and for many I am somewhere in between. And I do just as many elopements as I do larger weddings, while many are somewhere in between. But in the wedding industry those can be great factors to start with, to figure out who you are best a fit for. They just shouldn’t be your only factors to consider.
I’ve learned that I really can’t say words that I don’t believe. So, when a couple asks me to do quite religious content or tells me from the start that that is what they would want (or that they want a traditional or religious focus), I know that that is not my fit. For the same reason, I also really can’t officiate for a couple where I don’t see the connection between them – again, it’s tough to say these really loving and emotional words if I don’t feel and see the connection between them. Same thing for when the ceremony isn’t a priority for them or important to them – I’ve been asked if I will do a five minute ceremony, or to just do all of the standard and traditional words, and I know that that will not be satisfying or enjoyable for me.
I am not saying, in any of these cases, that they shouldn’t have that kind of ceremony/wedding if that it what they want – not at all. It’s their wedding and they should have whatever they want. I’m just saying that I am not their fit, and therefore I am not the one to officiate for them. There is someone out there for them, but it’s just not me.
It’s funny, but I found that knowing who my ideal client is, and sticking to that as much as possible, is actually freeing and empowering, not limiting. There are plenty of couples out there who fit my criteria for my ideal client – and I think that they are just as excited to find someone who considers them as their ideal client as I am to have them find me. Plus, the more I worked with my ideal client, and therefore the more satisfying each of those relationships and “jobs” were, the more raving reviews that came from them, which also leads to more just like that.
So, here’s my suggestion: think back to your favorite past clients, and then think about what it is that made them your favorite or the most satisfying, and think about what it is that they have in common. This is your first key step to not only knowing your ideal client, but also then attracting and working with more of them too!