How to get clients: Mistake 2 (who’s your ideal client?)

Target customer

If you read my earlier article, you know that to figure out how to get clients, you need to choose a niche–otherwise, you’ll lose credibility and won’t be found by prospects who are looking for the services you can provide. However, once you’ve identified a consulting niche, you need to go further to narrow down your ideal client.

How does understanding your ideal client help you understand how to get clients in general?

Just to be clear, when I say “ideal client,” I’m referring to an imaginary client–not necessarily one of your current clients.

Understanding your niche is a huge part of the foundation of your consulting business, but without deeply understanding who your ideal client is:

  • You won’t have the specific focus that will make your marketing easier. 
  • You won’t be able to automate your marketing so that clients come to you instead of you having to seek them out.
  • You’ll have far more difficulty converting prospects to clients.
  • You’ll waste hours, days, weeks–even years–chasing the wrong kinds of clients.

An example

Say you’re an IT consultant who specializes in network security (controlling access to networks, managing user permissions, limiting the flow of data to/from outside a network, etc.).

Most businesses have proprietary information and data that they want to protect. And, of course, though they might want employees and/or contractors to have access to digital resources, a business generally wants to make sure that only the right people have access to what they need for their job function.

After all, you don’t want to be take the fall if someone gets access to sensitive information, then leaks it to the press, your competitors–or leaks it to the world.

Anywho, in building your consulting business, maybe you’ve decided to focus on biotech firms, since proprietary data is one of their biggest assets.

So biotech firms might be your niche (that’s still a bit too general, but it’s a start).

But here’s where you need to get even more specific.

Maybe you want to focus on local biotech firms in your city, and think that the sweet spot for your services is with small, growing firms that realize the value of their proprietary data, but haven’t taken sufficient measures to protect that data. Maybe they’re too busy with R&D, marketing, forming partnerships, etc.

But having a big security hole is keeping them up at night–especially with all the recent news of current/former employees/contractors leaking sensitive information.

Maybe these are biotech firms that:

  • Have technical founders who developed proprietary technology or processes, and are still mired in much of the technical work of product development, etc.
  • Are concerned that by not having appropriate network security, the future of their company is in jeopardy.
  • Have no in-house expertise to address the problem.
  • Have outside funding, and therefore have a budget to spend on beefing up their security infrastructure.
  • Have higher-than-average employee turnover.
  • Have been undergoing lots of hiring, or management changes, or their employee morale is shaky from the company’s rapid growth. Those employee-related factors could increase the risk that a current or former employee could leak, share, or take advantage of proprietary information.
  • Have founders who don’t want to be concerned with the details of how the problem gets fixed–they just want the problem solved.

See where this takes you?

Now you have a much more specific picture of your ideal client.

This doesn’t mean that ALL your clients will look exactly like this, but your ideal client is the one you’ll target.

And once you have a clearer, concrete picture of your ideal client, that profile will lead you to the types of questions you’ll ask prospects, where you’ll look for prospects, and virtually everything else you need to do for how to get clients.

Right now

Even if you don’t have any clue who your ideal client is, post it in the comments, tweet it, or e-mail me.

There’s no shame in not having an ideal client profile–knowing where you need to take action is one of the best steps you can take.

And if you DO have a general or specific idea of your ideal client, go ahead and post it in the comments, tweet it, or e-mail me.

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