How well do you know your ideal client? Can you describe them in detail? When you describe them to another person, would that person say, “That’s me!” or “That sounds like my sister.” There can be a huge payoff for taking the time to get crystal clear on who you work with – and who you don’t.

Digging for the right description

Please know that you’ll have to keep digging for a while until you uncover the right statement to describe your ideal clients.

If you were a consulting client of mine, our conversation might go something like this:

Me: What kinds of clients do you want to work with?

You: Small business owners.

Me: Solo practitioners? Businesses with six employees? Businesses with $1M in revenue? Businesses with more than 100 employees? Startups? Funded startups? Established businesses? Private, public, or family-owned businesses? Is it bigger than a breadbox? Smaller than an elephant?

You: Gee, I guess there are a lot of definitions of what constitutes a small business… OK, I want to work with businesses who have been in business for at least five years with between $5M and $50M in revenue.

Me: Better! What type of business? Do they provide services or make products? Are they an online business? Do they have brick and mortar retail stores? Are they in a particular industry or vertical market?

This can be a maddening exercise for the client, but the payoff is huge. My clients become very confident in who they can best serve, and laser-focused on finding those exact people.

You’ll know you’ve nailed it when people seem to be mentally scrolling through their contacts when you talk to them, offering up themselves or people they know as referrals.

It has to be that clear.

Paying for targeting and promoting content

If you don’t know who you want to be buying your stuff, you should definitely not be doing paid promotion or advertising yet. You’ll most likely be wasting your money.

Yes, I know that your products/services probably could benefit many different groups, but you will need to narrow that down or you’ll be paying a fortune for little or no results.

The reason I am thinking about this is that I am about launch a few campaigns to generate complimentary 1-on-1 Career Strategy sessions. I have gotten really clear on who I work with so that I can (hopefully) get a good return on my investment.

Who will I be targeting?

Example 1: Professionals who follow/like Entrepreneur Magazine between the ages of 42-60 living in these seven metro areas: New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

Example 2: Professionals with the title of senior manager, director, or vice president, between the ages of 42 and 60 living in these seven metro areas: New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. who work in the financial services, professional services, or technology industries.

And yes, these could probably get even more specific. I will fine-tune them after I see some results.

What I am not doing is targeting all ages of professionals living in the United States, even though I have worked with recent graduates through retirees.

Mostly, my clients are in their 40s and 50s and live in or near big cities.

I rarely get inquiries from people in Texas, although Dallas and Houston could be good cities for my services, so I am not targeting those locations.

I wouldn’t have spent a lot of time or money on paid promotion a few years ago. I just wasn’t clear enough yet.

Are you clear enough?

Try this exercise. I promise it will be incredibly valuable for you and your business.