Many years ago, a recruiter I became friendly with told me that she declined doing business with certain companies. She turned them down because she knew from initial meetings that they never would be satisfied no matter what candidates she presented. Not only would they waste lots of her time; she felt they potentially could hurt the good reputation she had worked so hard to build. She said her ideal client knew what they wanted in a new hire, valued her experience and worked with her in partnership. The size of the company didn’t matter.

Does any of this sound familiar? Among your customers, past and present, are there some you wished you’d never done business with? In the early stage of your small business, you’re more than likely to take on any customer or client. But as your business gains traction, it usually becomes clear that not all business is good business and that just because someone wants to do business with you, doesn’t mean you should. Some customers can take enormous amounts of your time and resources or they may be a poor match for your products or services.  And in this day of social media, a dissatisfied customer could quickly and easily spread negative reviews.

handshakeThat brings us to your ideal customers or clients. They are a pleasure to do business with and value your services or products.  Also because of their high regard for you, they  directly or indirectly help you get more business. Not all your clients or customers will necessarily fit this bill. However to grow your small business, you want to aim your marketing efforts to reach and retain more of your ideal customers.

Profile your ideal client

Paint a picture of your ideal customer or client by asking yourself these 10 questions.

  • What problem(s) are you solving for your ideal customer?
  • How would they use your product or service?
  • What benefits are they seeking from your product or service?
  • Are they in a specific location or market?
  • Do they regularly need what you offer?
  • How do they buy your product or service? Is the purchase decision seasonal? What would encourage your ideal customer to seek out your product or service?
  • What is their buying strategy? Are there related products or services they need?
  • What level of customer service do they require?
  • Can they pay what you charge?
  • What do they know or need to know about you to make their decision?

Adjust your messages

Once you know who your ideal customer and why they do business with you, review your marketing materials. Revise them as needed with the messages that will resonate with the customers you want to reach in terms of value proposition and benefits. You may need to redo your website and social media content as well.

You may ultimately decide to rid yourself of customers that don’t fit the bill. But by identifying your ideal customers and targeting them with the right messages, you’ll be on track to get more.