How to identify your ideal clients using the head and heart method
Wondering how to land your dream clients? The first step is to get crystal clear on who you’re looking for.
Not only does this help craft your messaging and brand voice, but it allows you to focus your time and effort on the right audience—and let others go when they don’t match your dream client profile. It can also help you determine your products or services, once you know exactly what your ideal clients need.
The head and heart method
If you’ve spent any time focusing on your business growth or brand development, you’re probably familiar with the idea of an ideal client profile. I’ve developed this “head and heart” method that helps you identify your ideal clients and keeps you from staring at a blank page when starting the process.
I always begin by setting aside some devoted focus time (away from my desk at a coffee shop or cafe, putting pen to paper with an espresso or a glass of wine). Find a quiet place, free from distractions, where you can let your creativity flow.
You’re going to ask yourself a series of questions about your dream client or ideal customer, and we’ll divide those questions into two categories: the head and the heart.
The head-based questions are mostly facts about their life. Here, we’re covering the basics and setting the foundation for their profile. The head-based questions can help guide your networking and advertising, identifying where they hang out and places where your paths may cross.
The heart-based questions are about emotions. Here, you’ll learn how you can best serve them and how you can foster a strong relationship over time, so they know, like and trust you. You will understand the soul behind their work, which can help you write marketing copy and messaging that speaks to them.
Here are a few examples to get you started and to help you identify your ideal clients or customers:
What's their gender?
What's their age?
Where do they live?
What's their relationship status?
What's their family size?
What's the song they have on repeat?
What are their favorite magazines?
What are their coffee table books?
Where do they like to shop for clothes?
Where do they like to shop for food?
Who do they follow on Instagram and Facebook?
What do they do to treat themselves?
Where did they take their last vacation?
What do my clients desire?
What do my clients struggle with?
What brings joy to my clients?
How do they feel once they work with me?
What makes them feel overwhelmed?
What makes them feel scared?
What makes them feel relaxed?
What makes them feel joy?
What do they think they need?
What do they not know they need?
How they would like to describe themselves?
After spending 15 minutes scrolling through my social media feed, how will they feel?
Now that you know who you’re looking for, it’s time to bring them to life.
Your Muse or Avatar
Create “avatars” or “muses” (these are fancy words for fictional clients) that fit the description of who you’re looking to work with. I like to call it a muse because it sounds more magical and less like a big blue alien. Depending on your business and offerings, you may have multiple muses. If you have several packages or products, your ideal client profile may be different for each one.
Here’s a great example, brought to you by Anthropologie’s president, via Fast Company:
Ask anyone at Anthropologie who that customer is, and they can rattle off a demographic profile: 30 to 45 years old, college or post-graduate education, married with kids or in a committed relationship, professional or ex-professional, annual household income of $150,000 to $200,000. But those dry matters of fact don’t suffice to flesh out the living, breathing woman most Anthropologists call “our friend.” Senk, 46, says, “I like to describe her in psychographic terms. She’s well-read and well-traveled. She is very aware — she gets our references, whether it’s to a town in Europe or to a book or a movie. She’s urban minded. She’s into cooking, gardening, and wine. She has a natural curiosity about the world. She’s relatively fit.” … She’s defined less by static qualities and more by a set of dynamic tensions. If the tween anthem is Britney Spears’s “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” the Anthropologie customer’s plaint is more Alanis Morissette: “I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is giving the peace sign.” Translation: “I can’t pick up my children or sit through a meeting in low-rise jeans, but I’m not nearly ready for an elastic waistband.”
The Anthropologie customer is affluent but not materialistic. She’s focused on building a nest but hankers for exotic travel. (She can picture herself roughing it with a backpack and Eurail pass — as long as there is a massage and room service at end of the trek.) She’d like to be a domestic goddess but has no problem cutting corners (she prefers the luscious excess of British cooking sensation Nigella Lawson to the measured perfection of Martha Stewart). She’s in tune with trends, but she’s a confident individualist when it comes to style. She lives in the suburbs but would never consider herself a suburbanite.
Give your muse a name so she feels life-like, real and attainable. Put her profile somewhere you can see it every day so she is reinforced in your mind. If you’re a visual learner, add a photo.
Website copy made easy
So many of my clients get stuck when it comes to writing copy for their websites or branded marketing materials. Next time you sit down to write, whether it’s the services page of your website or your Instagram content for the week, keep your muse by your side. Imagine that you’re talking to her as a friend. You’ll find writing copy for your website is so much easier once you know exactly who you’re talking to.
Make two lists of questions: head-based and heart-based. You can use my questions above or create your own. The more specific, the better!
Determine how many ideal client profiles you need to make, and fill out the questions for each one. Hint: if you offer packages or products, you will likely need a profile for each one.
Once you have your questions answered, give your muse a name and a photo, and place your ideal client profile somewhere you can easily reference it.
The more you get to know your ideal clients or dream customers, the more you’ll understand where to look for them, how to create content and services for them, and how to speak their language. Let all of this guide your marketing, brand design and website design going forward.
Do you have head and heart questions that I didn’t include here? Share your faves in the comments below!
P.S. A loving note about fear-based marketing: In short, I’m not a fan. You’ll notice that fear comes up in the heart-based category, but this isn’t to say that you need to play to their fears or weaknesses with scarcity or lack-based marketing tactics. This exercise is more about getting to know exactly who your ideal client is and what they need most. Pain points are important for developing your offerings, but shouldn’t be abused.
P.P.S. If this is feeling like a LOT of work, I would love to lend a hand. Let’s talk about building a brand that attracts your dream clients.