5 Ways to Identify Ideal Clients

Do you know who you want to work with? Have you defined your ideal client?

Target MarketAs you grow your business, you will be more effective and satisfied with your work if you spend more time on what you consider ideal clients and less and less time on everyone else.

So, who is your ideal client?
What do they look like? How old are they? Are they male or female?
What TV shows do they watch, radio shows do they listen to, and magazines do they read?
Where do they buy their clothes, eat dinner, and spend their down time?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help make your marketing efforts much more effective. It will help you set your target market and direct your steps toward gaining ideal clients every time.

A great way to start figuring out the answers to these questions is to look at your past and current clients.  Determine the clients that have been the best to work with and why.

Consider the following in your analysis:

  1. Communication – what is the nature and means of the communication with the client? Are they direct or indirect? Do they prefer email, phone calls, or in person conversations?
  2. Demographics – what is the clients’ age, gender, education level, geographic location, etc…
  3. Personality – is the client an introvert or extrovert? Are they a leader or a follower? Do they tend to listen or talk?
  4. Strengths – what are the clients’ strengths and weaknesses? What are their interests? Are they organized and detail orientated or creative?
  5. Work – also consider the scope and nature of the work that you are performing for each client, as this can be a factor in the relationship – this may lead you to refine your niche.

Then analyze what your best (and worst) clients may have in common. This will give you a very insightful view into your ideal client persona. You may also consider conducting a survey of your current clients to see what they have in common.

Once you’ve determined the profile of your ideal client, go after them! Working with these people will improve your business and your outcomes. While you should remain focused, this is not set in stone; your ideal client may change as your business grows or changes so remain flexible.

An example of understanding our ideal client persona comes with the new collaboration that we have formed with Luma Coaching. We recognize that our ideal clients tend to be those who have business coaches, so it seemed obvious that we should partner with a business coach.

What have you done or will you do to identify and attract more of your ideal clients?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Business Owners’ Gift Guide

Need help getting motivated, organized, and planning your corporate gift giving? Well, we’ve got some action items and gift ideas all lined up to help you out! Because, if you haven’t planned your gift giving for this holiday season, then you’re running out of time…

Make your List – list everyone that you need to recognize, thank, and connect with during the holiday season; this includes clients, colleagues, employees, partners, and prospects. Your goal should be to have your list completed before December 5th.

Create your Budget – begin with your total budget. Determine the per person budget which can be based on a percentage of your total budget, and should probably be weighted according to the type of relationship you have with the individual. Your goal should be to have your budget completed before December 10th.

Get Organized – in order to simplify the process, try to order as much as possible from the same source.  If ordering online, have gifts shipped directly to the recipient. Try to choose retailers and distributors who will still be around next year, in order to simplify reorders. Your goal should be to have all of your gift orders placed by December 15th.

Need help finding appropriate gifts and giving inspiration?

Clients – be sure to acknowledge your clients this holiday season. This could be as simple as a card, as nice as a bottle of wine or box of chocolates, or a personalized gift that you hand pick. Consider Send Out Cards, Tasting Room, Harry & David, or Kiva.

Colleagues and Partners – it’s a good time to show your appreciation for the partners and co-workers who help to make your business a success. Consider useful gifts for the office or thoughtful gifts personalized for the individual. Consider Uncommon Goods, Think Geek, or Cell Phone Shop.

Employees and contractors – while appreciation should not be limited to the holidays, this is certainly a time of year that warrants your expression of gratitude for the people who help support you throughout the year. Consider fun gifts that will allow them to enjoy their down time or experience something new. Consider The Wine Buyer, Haven’s , or Send Out Cards.

Here are some suggestions of where you might find such items at reasonable prices:

  • Send Out Cards – an easy way to send personalized holiday cards, gift cards, and small gifts for any occasion
  • Harry & David – various gift baskets of fruit, chocolate, cheese, and more
  • Tasting Room – wine by the bottle, the glass, or a sampling set
  • The Wine Buyer – mix and match cases of wine with free shipping
  • Uncommon Goods – many unique gift ideas
  • Think Geek – fun gift ideas for the geeks in your life
  • Cell Phone Shop – very affordable electronic accessories (not just for cell phones)

For those in Maine who want to shop local, there are some fantastic options:

  • L.L. Bean – lots of quality gift ideas from a Maine icon
  • Haven’s – handcrafted Maine candy, chocolates, and fresh roasted nuts. They also offer corporate branding.
  • Len Libby – Maine made chocolates, taffy, and fudge
  • Wine Wise – unique wine events and education in the Portland area

Consider some philanthropic options this year to really share the spirit of the season:

Consider using a service like charity navigator to review an organization before making a donation

If you have any additional tips that you have found helpful, or gift ideas that have been well received, please share with a comment!

 

In the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware that there may be affiliate links within this article. However, we never promote products or services based on any financial gain, only on our experience and the value that we believe you may gain.
 
 
 

Giving Away the House – A Confession

Giving Away the HouseThis blog is typically a resource for software, efficiency tools, and business services, but today I have a confession to make… I gave away the house.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably done this at least once. As business owners and consultants, we all want to give the proper complementary consultations. The key to these sessions is learning enough about the potential client and their business, while sharing enough about your expertise, and deciding together how you may be able to help them. These consultations can be a great way to get to know if a potential client and your services are a good fit. They can also be a great exchange of information.

However, there is a fine line between giving enough information to show your value and giving them all of the answers. Someone recently described it to me as “giving the ‘what’, but not the ‘how’”. Of course, when you’re passionate about your business it can be very easy to give away too much information for free, especially when trying to sign new clients who have significant opportunities for your assistance.

Recently, I had this experience. After being in business for over three years, it was the first time I could honestly say, “I gave away the house”. I spent two and a half hours on a phone call that should have been less than sixty minutes. After doing a brief overview of my business and my experience, the customer did the same –a typical exchange of information, nothing abnormal. We then proceeded to chat for another hour and a half about the specifics of what this customer needed; how to accomplish tasks, timelines, partners, resources, software, etc…and there was my mistake. Because I care about seeing businesses succeed and get really excited about planning and strategizing, it’s easy for me to get carried away with solving problems.

After the conversation, the potential client sounded very happy and interested in working with me. I proceeded by sending my standard initial contract. The potential client then responded by finding what she perceived as ‘mistakes’, and used them to come to the conclusion that she should keep searching.

Based on this interaction and her continuous reference to cost, I feel that this potential client would have found some reason to stop using my services in the near future regardless. So, this may have been a blessing in disguise. I’ll take a non-client over an upset client any day. Of course, it’s always frustrating to feel that I might have been taken advantage of. As a business owner that cares deeply about my client relationships and reputation, I have to learn to let this one go and move on. It will remain a learning lesson, and now I know what not to do.

Hopefully my story made for an interesting blog, and my experience will help prevent you from making the same mistake.

Do you have any stories to share about being taken advantage of, giving away the house, or making any other crucial mistake in your business? If so, please post a comment and let us know about the experience and what you learned from it.

5 Characteristics of GREAT Clients!

We generally work with small business owners in Maine, Companies with 1-15 employees that need a little more help or some specific expertise. We provide administrative help and expertise with no overhead costs, no employment costs, no benefit expenses, no HR headaches, and for as little as 2 hours per month.

So, what makes our clients GREAT? Here are a few things that come to mind;

  1. They trust us – Our clients have welcomed me as a part of their company, a virtual partner in helping them succeed.
  2. They value us – Our clients often call us about new projects or ideas. They use us as both a partner and a consultant. As a part of their virtual team, they see us as a resource.
  3. They don’t micro manage – Our clients understand that we are running a business, in the same way that they are. We negotiate terms, use technology, and time frames that allow us all to be efficient.
  4. They are open-minded – Many of our clients need help in an area that they are unfamiliar with. So, our tasks often include; educating, locating deficiencies, and helping to implementing new ideas.
  5. They pay us (Seriously!) Our clients have been diligent in paying us in full and on time, some are even on pre-payment schedules.

And, how do we get GREAT clients?

  1. We’re honest – We start every relationship with a contract of expectations and we stick to them. If for any reason these must be changed, we always notify our clients prior to the change and get their approval.
  2. We’re valuable – We take the time to learn our clients business and how they operate. Then we apply our own expertise and education to the needs that they have.
  3. We’re efficient – We use time and technology to deliver on or before negotiated time frames.
  4. We’re creative – We enjoy bringing new ideas and concepts to their projects and goals.
  5. We’re economical – We help our clients save time and money! We don’t use their resources and we only help when they need us!

Feel free to share your best client characteristics and what you look for! And if you think we could help you and your business, feel free to contact us!