Ever had a horror client? Someone who cost you money, time, or worse, your sanity? Someone who haggles your price, questions you constantly, and undermines your confidence?

If you’ve ever lost sleep worrying about a client who appears to misunderstand everything you say, and goes against everything you stand for, then you’ll know exactly how important knowing your ideal client really is. Because bad-fit clients can cost your business – big time.

Your ideal clients are a joy to do business with. Because they’re perfectly placed to get the most out of your business, they value what you do far more than what you charge, and happily refer friends, family, and anyone who’ll listen, to you.

Your ideal client isn’t buying from you because you’re the cheapest or most convenient. You may be more expensive, with a waitlist, but your ideal client doesn’t mind. They’ll wait until you’re free. They’ll happily jump on an aeroplane across the country because, in their eyes, you’re the perfect person for the job.

Your ideal client sees you as a subject matter expert rather than an errand-runner who performs tasks. They want your eyes, your brain, and your opinions.

They don’t haggle and always pay on time. They buy from your business many times, over time, and generate good vibes in the process. They get you, and you get them. Together you’re a mutual admiration society. They make business, and life, a joy.

Reading people’s minds

Knowing exactly who your ideal client is goes far further than researching your target market. Target markets are old-school marketing. Target markets cover demographics and, for some business models, they’re very useful.

If your business is a local obstetrics practice, then it makes sense to target women of typical child-bearing age within a particular geography. But profiling your ideal clients points to the fact that all women aged 25-45 who are living in a particular sector of a city don’t all think the same (radical! I know).

Look around you. You may be surrounded by your demographic, but that doesn’t mean you eat, shop, dance and listen to, vote for, watch or read the same things.

Ideal client profiling looks at psychographics – or what makes people tick. This includes a person’s values, politics, secret fears, secret desires, and what wakes them up at 2am.

Why is this important? Because your marketing isn’t about listing features and benefits and telling people to buy. That might have worked in 1993 but the market is much bigger and far more sophisticated now.

We have a plethora of choices in our back pockets. We can Google your competitors while hiding in your change room or using your toilet. We research more, we know more, and we consider our discretionary purchases more than ever before.

Our marketing needs far more creative smarts to win the hearts and minds of our perfect-fit people. We need to read the minds of our ideal clients and know what wakes them up at 2am. Our marketing needs to speak to that.

Clues towards identifying your ideal clients

In my Hustle & Heart program, we look at ideal clients in some detail. This is all about doing business smarter, not harder, and redesigning business from the inside, out.

Ideal client profiling can cause some people to get stuck. We find it difficult to read others’ minds. That’s understandable. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Some struggle to find a balance between left-brain evidence and right-brain imagination and empathy, to fill in the gaps that surveys and interviews can’t provide. Some get stuck on their story and believe that their ideal clients need to look like mini-mes. In short, they overthink it.

First, know that we don’t have to be like people to respect and admire them. We’re not 12 anymore. Your friends aren’t likely to look the same as you. So stop thinking your ideal clients need to be similar to you to like and respect you.

Second, identify someone who you’ve worked with, who was a dream. They don’t need to have been a paying client. They may have been a colleague, boss or team member in an old job. So long as your relationship was professional, and a professional dream-come-true, this individual may well fit the bill of your ideal client. Write their name down now.

Don’t ring them up and hound them to become a client! Just keep them front-and-centre when you create your marketing. Create to just for them. Pay attention to the finer details. Make it personal.

Turn up the volume

Another way to come at your ideal client is to flip your perspective. Put yourself in the centre and turn up the volume – not by ranting about bad public transport or what you had for lunch – but by sharing what you think and believe.

Turn up the volume on your opinions. Tell people why you care about the thing that you do for a living. Not the thing itself, but its broader implications into their lives.

Write blogs or create videos that are designed to repel and attract people. Having taught business blogging for a number of years, and having published consistently since 2010, believe me when I tell you that it’s the articles that you’re most afraid to publish which will garner the biggest response from people. Say something worth listening to.

Flex your empathy muscle

For eight years, I’ve been teaching digital marketing, sales writing and social media marketing. But really? I teach people how to deepen their empathy and tap into their creativity. Not only does this make your marketing messages so much more relevant and powerful to the exact type of people who you’re seeking to magnetise, but it makes the process of business easier.

When you appreciate that people are attracted to certain types of people, you stop taking things so personally. You cannot control whether or not people like you. Some people will ‘get you’ immediately, appreciate your point-of-view and like your vibe. Some people, despite efforts on both sides, will not. You’re not their person and they’re not yours. And that’s okay. Because there are plenty of other people in the world.

“Marketing is a contest for people’s attention,” says Seth Godin. When you’re scrolling on social media for entertainment and distraction, think about the information you pass. You can tell if someone is ‘your kind of person’ or whether you’re interested in something. And conversely, you know when they’re not.

That’s what we do all day long – look at the world through our particular lens of relevance and appeal. Marketing is about being seen and heard. If you’re putting out marketing, hoping that it doesn’t cause offense, make a splash, or barely get noticed, can I suggest it’s time to rethink things because you’re wasting your time? Effective marketing makes it through the lens, so the person becomes magnetised or is repelled. Ineffective marketing does neither. It’s simply invisible.

If you’re ready to step up, say something worth listening to, magnetise your ideal clients to you, and embrace your visibility, despite it feeling uncomfortable (or downright excruciating!), then register your interest in my Hustle & Heart group program, opening soon. Let’s get uncomfortable together!