Ideal clients – we all need them, we all want them, we all try to define them.
Often though, it takes us nowhere near as far as we need to travel to attract them.
The Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) has a long history of evolution but as a paradigm for your business, it probably isn’t doing much for you.
Because the focus is wrong.
In the early 1980’s, Alan Cooper created the concept of buyer personas to facilitate digital development. A buyer persona is driven by data. BIG data.
If you are a big corporation with thousands of customers buying all the time, you generate a lot of data. Data about buying habits (when, where and even why), you generate data about demographics and you gain insight into what your buyers like and don’t like. For high volume, fast selling product based businesses the data is gold dust. Combine it with focus and feedback groups and you have a clear foundation for product development and product lifecycles. Use it to segment your buyers into those with common values and attitudes, make and test assumptions, reduce the costs of product development – for big businesses buyer personas make sense.
But what if you are a much smaller business generating a lot less data? If you only work with 20 – 30 clients a year, you simply aren’t going to get data that is as robust or reliable using this approach. This is where the slight tweak of the Ideal Client Avatar came into play. More focused on the needs and triggers of an ideal client, it is still weighted towards attitudes, needs and demographics.
It is this weighting that makes the process of creating your ICA often one of simply going through the motions. It’s a feel good process but at the end of it, you are not really any closer to truly recognising your ideal client. You will know where he or she is likely to hang out, maybe even what colour socks they prefer but it won’t tell you what makes someone actually invest.
For solopreneurs and small businesses, it is the buying trigger that is key and given that most investments will be at the higher end of the scale, knowing what will reliably trigger a sale is pretty damn important for you to create a sustainable business.
We buy with our emotional brains. No matter how much we might want to tell ourselves that it is a logical and rational process, it’s not. Buying is an emotional decision backed up with rationale and logic.
Any client is looking for a result – an impact, a transformation, a shift in their reality. That shift cannot be quantified with X more this or Y more of that. They aren’t chasing facts and figures, they are looking for a different experience and a different set of emotions that will become their new reality. This is where the true gold dust will be found.
Digging deep into the emotional triggers is where you will find the substance of connecting not with your ideal clients but your soul clients.
Soul clients are those people who will get the biggest impact and transformation from working with you. The ones who will value what you do probably more highly than you value it yourself. The ones whose before and after shift is so seismic they don’t recognise the person they were and cannot envisage ever returning to that place.
Here’s the irony – this smaller focused group of people that are your soul clients cannot be defined by demographics, attitudes or values sufficiently. Who they are is to be found in their deepest desires and the emotional changes they want to make. This is an expansive process where you open up the possibilities of who you will work with by focusing in on the transformation they are seeking.
If you want your soul clients to come looking for you, you need to start building connections based on their emotional investment in a process that will transform them from where they are now to where they almost believe it impossible to reach.
Ready to start digging?