Whether you use the term avatar or qualified prospect or buyer persona or ideal client profile doesn’t much matter. What does matter is that you (and everyone else in the business) understand, as best you can, the person behind the profile.
The better you know your Ideal Client, the better your marketing becomes. You know who they are, the challenges they face, and the unspoken concerns that necessarily accompany purchasing high priced services and products. If you don’t know these details, talk to them. You’ll be able to develop a better marketing message, improved sales process, and superior knowledge of your Ideal Client so it becomes a competitive differentiator for your business.
For many businesses, detailing the characteristics of an ideal client is challenging. Here, you’ll find some ways to narrow your focus and hone in on the prospects that are best for your business.
Step 1: Beginners Level – Ideal Client Profile
If you’ve ever purchased a list from a list broker, there are some standard demographics that you can use to narrow the focus. The basic building blocks of characteristics: who, what, where, and how large. Let’s say the product I’m selling is nonprofit accounting software, my Ideal Client Profile might look like this:
The facts serve as the first cut or segmentation. But it’s really only the beginning. We move on to the intermediate level to get an even clearer view of what the challenges are for my Ideal Client.
Step 2: Intermediate Level – The Frustrations Ideal Clients Experience
What is it like to be my Ideal Client? When they come into the office, what are they tasked with? Are they encumbered with low-value activities that chew up their time and don’t allow them to provide more strategic value to the organization? Are they under pressure to produce the most basic of reports? Are they crippled by inadequate or, worse, no technology tools to assist them?
The idea is to identify their pain points. What is making their job increasingly more difficult? Are they responsible for critical deliverables that are delayed and prevent them and the organization from being more effective and efficient? Is there a list of activities they simply can’t get to because of the current work burden? Are there risks to the organization, lost opportunities or inability to grow because they lack access to products and services?
By identifying your Ideal Client’s pain points, you have uncovered possible motivations for change.
Displaying how your products and services respond to the common pain points your Ideal Clients experience provides a basis for marketing messages that can be delivered via email, direct mail, content on your web site, newsletters etc.
The number of pain points plaguing an Ideal Client and degree to which they are stymied, is a way for you to qualify an opportunity. Pain is the ultimate change agent, and your product and services are a solution to their pain.
Expand the profile you started in Step 1 and add every pain point that you know of, prioritizing by most common to least common.
Identifying pain points and creating marketing messages that address them, indicates to your prospective Ideal Customer that you understand their situation. That proof of understanding serves to increase their trust in your ability to help them.
Step 3: Advanced Level – The Unspoken Fears that Keep Your Ideal from Buying
Unlike B2C marketing, B2Bs rarely benefit from the impulse buy. In fact, the higher the price tag on your products and services, the greater the deliberation that goes into the selection process.
Often, others are involved in the selection process. Your Ideal Client might ultimately be the one making the decision – but it’s important to realize that they are very much aware the others will be judging their decision. This brings an element of doubt and fear into the equation.
Their fears may range from “If I buy this, and the implementation takes longer than promised or costs go higher than planned, will I get fired?” to “Would it be better to do nothing than to risk spending a lot of money without a lot of obvious benefit?” Because these are personal fears, for example, “Could this decision diminish my reputation with my boss, with colleagues, with my direct reports?” – it’s not something most people are going to share.
However, if you think about what the possible unspoken fears may be, you can take steps to minimize the doubt and uncertainty that may be lurking in the back of their mind.
Step 4: Additional characteristics of Ideal Clients
Your Ideal Client probably has some aspirations for their company and career. All businesses want to see revenue growth. Are there other aspirations your Ideal Client dreams about? Perhaps they aspire to opening new offices, becoming the leader in market share, expanding geographically, being named one of the best companies to work for, or establishing themselves as a thought leader.
Here are some other miscellaneous questions that may be key to developing your Ideal Client profile:
- What are the usual triggers to cause them to begin researching and ultimately buy your products and services?
- How do they make their decisions?
- Who within their business needs to buy-off on their decisions?
- Are there external pressures such as government compliance and regulations that they must adhere to?
- Do they enjoy high awareness in their market? Low awareness?
Knowing what matters to your Ideal Client is key to creating the best buyer persona and developing compelling communication that will inspire them to connect with you. When you sit down with a prospective Ideal Client, they will be relieved to discover that you understand so much about them – and likely will share even more key information about their situation.
Often business leaders wonder if this marketing tactic is better than another marketing tactic. They’ve tried multiple tactics that just didn’t work. They wonder, “Is there a silver bullet that I just haven’t discovered?
The real silver bullet is a deep understanding of your target marketing, the Ideal Client. The more you know about them, the more powerful and effective your marketing becomes.