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Moving Beyond Word of Mouth: How to Create an Ideal Client Profile

Expert Panel®Forbes Councils Member Forbes Coaches CouncilCOUNCIL POST| Leadership

While some businesses grow through brilliant integrated marketing strategies, others are able to maintain a high level of success mainly through word-of-mouth referrals. Personal referrals are serious testaments to their credibility and trusted reputation, but there may come a time when these businesses need to execute a more comprehensive marketing strategy to scale things further. The critical first step in creating a marketing strategy is determining who your target audience is. If you’re ready to move beyond word-of-mouth referrals and start generating more business, see the expert tips for creating an ideal client profile that the members of Forbes Coaches Council share below. 1. Consider Who You Don’t Want To Work With Sometimes, it’s helpful to start with the type of client you don’t want to work with and then construct your client avatar to be the opposite of that. Why weren’t they a good fit for your business? Now, flip that to understand what kind of avatar would be a good fit for your business. Finally, bring your ideal client avatar to life by defining their demographic, psychographic, challenges and goals. - Betty Kempa, Betty Kempa | Business Coach

2. Reflect On Why You Do What You Do

Start with “why!” I’ve been a big believer in Simon Sinek’s philosophy for over a decade. When coaching leaders in organizations, we bring his Golden Circle concept forward to get them to reflect on why they do what they do again. All too often, the day-to-day can creep in, and we lose sight of our vision as well as who it will attract. Do some work in this area and allow yourself to gain clarity on your audience. - Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space

3. Understand Who Wants Your Product

First of all, don’t guess—interview potential clients to see where the best fit is for your product or service. Understand the difference between clients who need your product and those who want it. Base your business on those who want it. It is generally easier to focus on those who are already in the category because they understand your value. - Linda Martin, Linda Martin Results

4. Analyze Your Five Best And Five Worst Clients Take a look at your five best and five worst clients and analyze them in terms of overall fit and the focus you would like to have in your business. Once you have determined what seems to be working best for you and allowing you to provide the most value to your client, you can reverse-engineer a targeted customer profile based on those best and worst clients. Try to attract more clients like your best clients. - Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

5. Speak The Language Of Your Top Three Clients Start by interviewing your three best clients. These are the people you love to work with and have provided tremendous value to. When you develop marketing for your ideal client “avatar,” you want to speak their language. Pay attention to how they describe the problems you helped them solve and what the symptoms of the problems were. Use their words to resonate with and attract similar ideal clients. - Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

6. Look At Client Demographics, Needs And Hopes In marketing, data is your friend. Looking at your current and former clients, consider three buckets. First, look at demographics: gender, age, geography, worldview, level of social media engagement, marital status, favorite brands and more. Then, think about their needs and frustrations. What keeps them up at night? What makes them feel stressed? Finally, consider their hopes and dreams. If they could wave a magic wand, what would they see a year from now? Five years from now? - Susan Sadler, Sadler Communications LLC

7. Look For Affinities In The Market You’re Servicing When you’ve been in business for a while and you’re trying to figure out who your best market is, you need to start by examining the market you’ve been servicing. Analyze which types of customers are most aligned with your values. Look at which repeat customers stick with you when times are tough. Which industries do you have the most affinity with? Now, define the ideal client using these parameters. - John Knotts, Crosscutter Enterprises

8. Create A Pitch That Speaks To Your Network Depending on the niche you are developing, I would recommend looking through your network to understand what the aspirations and key challenges of your target group are. Creating a pitch that includes testimonials that speak directly to them will be powerful. If you are active on social media and able to reach relevant Facebook pages or groups, that would greatly help your marketing. - Thomas Lim, Singapore Public Service, SportSG

9. Find The Common Unique Value Proposition Find the common unique value proposition your existing clients have experienced with you, and use that to assess which characteristics of your product or service will benefit other types of clients across ages, demographics and sectors to use as examples. Even if you identify more than one client segment, ensure that you target them specifically—not generally—based on their need and the value your offering possesses to assuage that need. - Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory

10. Ask Existing Clients Why They Chose You Your ideal client is the one you already love to work with. What makes them that way for you? Interview past clients. Ask them why they chose to work with you. What was their original pain point or issue, and how did working with you solve it? This information will give you the keywords you need to find and market to others like them. - Lynda Silsbee, Alliance for Leadership Acceleration

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