As online marketing becomes more complex and intricate, discovering and analyzing your ideal client doesn’t only become important, it becomes a necessity. The benefit of preparing a marketing proposal as designers is that it allows you to build your entire business around targeting and narrowing in on your market through product, services and messaging.
What is the definition of an ideal client?
The trick to finding good clients is knowing what you want. Businesses and freelancers who struggle to define customers, or have too large a target market, often struggle in getting any clients at all. By narrowing in on a customer group, it allows you to better serve the needs and wants of that specific group which will save you time and money in the long run.
So, what do ideal clients look like? Think of a client project that had a positive outcome. These clients appreciated your talents, gave feedback and listened to your advice, paid on time, gave deliverables before deadlines and possibly even gave you further business. These are the kinds of clients you want more of. Let’s define a few key elements that are consistent with these clients:
- They respect your expertise and understand the value you will provide them
- They make you money
- They would be willing to refer you for future projects/business
As designers, our services certainly apply to all businesses, but not everyone wants our services.
Segmenting your clientele means placing them in “groups” based on many different factors that can affect how your clients behave when purchasing or investing in something such as your services. As you begin to segment your potential client base, you will begin to notice behavioural patterns. You’re also going to notice that your target market is smaller than you originally imagined. As designers, our services certainly apply to all businesses, but not everyone wants our services. This is where segmentation becomes very important in your marketing plan.
Demographics are the most basic characteristics of consumer groups. This includes age, gender, income, education, family size, etc. Since you’re not going to be able to target each individual consumer, demographics give you a better method of understanding and marketing to groups with similar characteristics. If you understand demographics as a designer, it will be easier for you to expand your network and discover new markets.
Psychographics include personal preferences, lifestyle choices, personality traits, habits and opinions. For example, an older man with 4 children is likely to have different preferences and lifestyle choices than a young, single man. Measuring psychographics amongst your potential clients reveals what influences them to make decisions on your products or services.
Geographics is the physical location of your clients, population density, culture, etc. As designers – with the freedom of the Internet – we are luckily not constrained by the boundaries of working with businesses only in our area. Businesses who have physical locations will be more concerned with this segment, as it plays an important role in maintaing local customer traffic, expansion and promotion.
Understanding the behavioural patterns in your ideal clients is one of the most important marketing analysis you can do. Knowing their emotional and rational triggers for making buying decisions will help you build loyalty and trust with your brand. You’re also going to want to ask yourself these questions about your ideal client:
What do they buy?
This one will help determine if you should offer a wider range of services, or focus on one or two main disciplines. If you’re a design agency, you are a “one-stop-shop” for clients that need more than one service, whereas a freelancer is more likely to specialize in one area such as design or development.
Where do they like to buy from?
Do most potential clients e-mail you or call you directly? Facilitating the main channels of communication will provide a more effective way for people to contact you.
Do they want what you have?
If you’re selling a solution for a service no one wants, you’re SOL. Don’t waste your time convincing people they need your services when they don’t have a want for it.
Are they willing to pay (well) for your services?
Unfortunately, individuals who have “price shopping” tactics will always continue to have a fixation with price, rather than focusing on our services as an investment. You want to drive your attention to clients who are willing to pay a premium for your talents. Raising your prices will not put you in competition with other designers, either.
As a designer, if you try to be “all things” to “all people,” you’ll continue to land mediocre clients with mediocre projects. Identifying your ideal client will help with your overall business strategy, which ultimately, leads to more sales and greater profits. This process will continue to grow as your business evolves. Maybe your skills have grown to include design and development – your ideal clientele and target market will naturally shift to accommodate for the change.
Your ideal customer helps your bottom line in business – knowing and understanding their demands will improve your business as a designer. It’s a marketing technique you can’t ignore if you want to be successful.
My ideal customers are business owners or individuals that understand the value of design. I enjoy working with people who are just as passionate about what they do, as I am. Since I generally specialize in design work, I like to work with clients who have a good sense of what looks good and what doesn’t, and can give me appropriate feedback on design directions. Working with clients who respect my skills, talents and experience as a designer makes for an easier project progression, which in turn, allows me to do my job properly and efficiently.