Want to identify your ideal client? Ask this ONE question. 

As a heart-led coach or consultant asking this critical question will unlock your messaging  so you call out to the right people

You’ve likely been told more than once on your business journey to share who your ideal client is. Everyone from your logo designer, your website designer, your brand photographer, to people you meet inside networking meetings asks you this!

Every time you answer, you find yourself saying something different. This leads to confusion in your branding. Perhaps you feel that you can help everyone, so why do you need to narrow down who your “ideal client” is? In this article I will show you why you need to get clear on this and share the one question you need to answer that means you’ll never give a wishy-washy ‘everyone’ answer again!

What’s the biggest benefit of defining your ideal client?

FACT: Talking to a more select group of people is easier than talking to a crowd.

It’s far easier to be heard in a small room of followers, who’ve chosen to be there, who not only get what you do, but want to learn more of what you support them with. 

These people lean in and listen to what you have to say, they engage with your work and ask questions. 

Those are the type of people we want to work with, right? 

Talking with my clients, who are predominantly coaches and consultants, they all agree that their favourite clients are those that lean in, engage and actively follow their advice to bring about the transformation that they seek.

But there are similarities in their ideal clients that go beyond that piece of taking action. And this is where we need to delve deeper to really define who you wish to call out to when marketing your offers. Then you can craft a message which resonates with them and brings them to you. 

Why you struggle to identify your ideal client

Exercises you have tried before, all felt false and prefabricated to your way of heart-led thinking.

The ideal client exercises you’ve been encouraged to do were designed back in the 1980s for product led business advertising. Back then all the business marketing advice focused on demographics. For example; you serve Sally aged 42, with 2 kids and drives a 4x4, loves booking holidays 12 months out and will relax by kicking back with a glass of wine. You even found a stock photo of what this person could look like. 

Demographics are all very well and good on the superficial level… but the above statement doesn’t go beneath the surface. 

  • What is Sally thinking? 

  • What is Sally dreaming about? 

  • What is Sally investigating in her time outside the day-to-day?

This is why you have found it so difficult to identify your niche. You are here for all the 42-year-old Sallys. How do you narrow down which ones are going to be a good fit for you?

This is the definition of an ideal client for service-led business owners:

An ideal client is a person or a company whose needs and wants are not only met by the products and services your company is offering, but also are a joy to work with as they motivate your business growth as you see the transformations happen with your support. And most importantly they are willing to pay to make this happen.

How to define your ideal client today

Last week, I met a lady, Lucy, who’d been struggling with marketing an amazing offer for her life coaching business. But when she shared her offer in a room that she thought was full of ideal clients, it fell flat, no-one even clicked on her link to see more details. That is tough. And this knocks back many business owners, stopping them from trying again. Sadly it’s a story I hear very often from coaches before they work with me. 

But as a coach, Lucy knew there was benefit in asking others for support, so she asked me, “Why does no-one get what I do? I know my service can make a huge difference in their lives, yet no-one even clicked through?”

And if this story resonates with you, today I’d like to share with you the first part of the advice I shared with Lucy on that call.

The biggest mistake can be answered with one question

The biggest mistake coaches and consultants make is not defining their ideal client and they end up wasting energy marketing to the wrong people. Worst yet, many people try to paper over the cracks in their messaging by investing in advertising before they have a solid, tried and trusted message to share with their ideal people. I don’t want that for you. 

So, how do we define our ideal client in a simple, heart-led way?

The one most important question to ask yourself to define your ideal client is:

What does your person want to do MORE of? 

This simple question unlocks your ideal client, the client that is already along the journey you are an expert guide in. You are not in the business of shifting beliefs and persuading people that they need your service. You are there as their respected guide. To be chosen as the best solution to support them. 

Once you know what your person wants to do more of, you can then focus your messaging and offers to align with their specific needs. You will highlight your unique system or process that will guide them along the path that they are already on to achieve higher, better, faster results than they could achieve alone. 

So if we go back to Lucy, her ideal clients are already using coaches in some way in their lives. They already believe in the power of coaching, they have felt the transitions they’ve made with a coach's support. But different coaches support us at different parts of the journey, and we look to new people to take us up to the next level.

For Lucy, just minutes after asking her this question, she realised her ideal client is someone who is currently working with a coach, but is maybe not getting the results that they had hoped for.  Lucy is the perfect coach for those wanting to extend and deepen their personal development. Those people who will be keeping an eye out for their NEXT coach, to take them further along the path. They are leaning in and listening out for deeper advice, maybe more specific advice on a certain area of expertise, as every coach as their own unique specialism. 

Going deeper

This question, “What does your person want to do more of?”, is the first, most important question to identify your ideal client.

But then you need to go into more depth. You need to show your ideal client where they are, and lay out a path they are willing to take to get to their desired outcome. Ideally you will share a device that allows them to self-assess where they are on the journey and which of your services suit their needs.

The easiest way to do this is with a visual framework. I have created a series of Sparkle Frameworks® that bring to the surface the emotional facets that your ideal clients have to meet this exact need.

For service-led business owners, we need to focus on the emotional triggers instead of fixed demographics. And from this information we can create compelling offers for your business as you know your ideal person needs and wants exactly this to support their next step. 

If you’d like to delve deeper into who your ideal client is, then a simple first step is to access the Sparkle Framework Starter Kit. This is an instant-access self-led training that takes you deeper into defining and understanding who your ideal client is and how they can understand which of your services match up with their needs and wants. 

Written by Susanna Reay, 03/08/2023

Susanna Reay is a multi award-winning coach, writer, and speaker who’s been bringing clarity, focus and structure into small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups for over 20 years. Susanna brings a unique perspective informed by her training in design and business strategy, her life-long interest in psychology and strengths as an introverted online business builder. Her book, courses and mentoring have been the catalyst for growth for clients who’ve integrated Sparkle Frameworks® into their business. She helps the unseen be seen, heard and respected. Susanna is based in Europe, serving a global audience from her English home.

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