Almost every small business and entrepreneur wants more leads and business. But before you can start bringing in leads, you need to start identifying your best customers. Or at the very least your target audience.
I know you may be saying to yourself “the best customers is a paying customer.” We love paying customers as much as the next person, but this isn’t exactly the right answer. On the other hand, if your lights are going out and you can’t keep up with your business than by all means work with anyone who pays. Taking on just any paying customer isn’t the the style you want to stick with when you are trying to identify your best customers.
Always keep in mind, working with customers who may cause massive headaches probably aren’t worth it in the long run.
Using A Filtration System:
Ideally, you only want to work with those who are going to push you to accomplish your best work. The greatest projects are the ones that are going to inspire, energize, and keep you motivated long after most people would burn out. Similarly, your best work tends to come about when you actually enjoy what you are doing.
Something great also happens when you offer your best work. Something every small business owner should be aware of and that is the social media share. I’m not just saying this because we utilize social media marketing, but it is one of the absolute best ways to get your work out there. While you may claim you don’t care about the word on the street, and perhaps you truly don’t, the word will certainly dictate your clientele. Take a look at our recent post on Facebook Advertising to see if it is right for you.
The Target Market:
Your target market is the larger group of people or businesses that you serve. The ideal client is just a small subset of your target market. Once you understand that not everybody in your target market is your ideal customer, the quicker you realize who that ideal customer actually is.
With that being said, however, and there usually is a “however,” you do not want to cutoff this market just because they might not fit every mold of your ideal client. Just as your ideal client may become a dud over time, someone that is in the middle of the field may become an ideal client.
Identifying Your Best Customers by Their Qualities:
Like we mentioned, it’s less about how quickly they pay your invoices and more about the qualities of the person or organization you are working with. During your preliminary meetings, try to get a sense of the following:
- The values of the person / organization
- Their personality traits
- Does the way that person operates allow you to do your best work?
- What are their behaviors?
Back to money for a brief second. If they don’t pay their invoices on time than you can probably tell that one of the above is significantly lacking – even if your meetings go well and they align with you. It is a value trait that they may not hold in high regard. So you are trying to match up their values with the values that will allow you to do your best work and still get paid.
How to Identify These Qualities:
I know you may be thinking, “how exactly am I suppose to get a sense of their qualities in one meeting?” We typically follow these guidelines or something similar:
- You want to be inquisitive and ask questions that will reveal who they are.
- Are you working on any projects with anyone else right now?
- Depending on their answer, you get a decent idea of if they are the collaborative type.
- How have former collaborative projects turned out for you or your business?
- You really want to get a sense that they are going to finish what they start. If not, what is the point of starting in the first place?
- Are you working on any projects with anyone else right now?
- Once you identify someone who is ideal for you, tell them.
- This isn’t something they are going to hear often. If they are naturally collaborative and this is important to your business, make mention of it. If they seem to finish what they start and fulfill commitments that they make; again, mention that to them. Make sure they understand you are also ideal for them.
One last thing to keep in mind is that clients usually don’t want to work with someone is willing to work with just about anyone. Just like you, they want to work with someone who will help them produce their best product. If you are only after a project because of money, most people can sniff this out. Instill in the client that if they bring you on board that you are essentially partnering with them to make their brand as amazing as possible (make sure you don’t promise them what you can’t deliver though). Look at it as if you are buying into that client’s business, because you essentially are. A great project for them will pay dividends for you. Likewise, if the project goes awry, you can pretty much guarantee that it will reflect poorly for you. So, if you are working on a project you know is less than your best, perhaps you shouldn’t work on that type of project anymore.
Saying No to Your Client:
This is a pretty large subject that we will certainly discuss in more detail in a later post, but you should always be more than willing to say no to your client. Identifying your best customers may come down to understanding when the client doesn’t know best. If you find yourself in this situation, tell them no. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be rude about it and make sure you always offer a different solution. If they take your advice or perhaps are willing to meet you in the middle than you know this client is right for you. If they flat out refuse to acknowledge your advice, you know that this client isn’t for you.
Likewise, if you are stuck in a bad business relationship with a client it can be very cathartic to tell them you don’t think it’s going to work out. Once you’ve fired a client, or dealt with one who is problematic, you’ll be able to see red flags quicker. Eventually you will be able to tell immediately if a project is worth your time and their time.
Identifying your best customers may simply come down to offering the right information. This may occur over the phone, but I am more or less talking about the content on your website. Here at The Content Group we are marketing ourselves to small and medium sized businesses who need help with:
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Local search engine optimization
- Search engine marketing
- Social media marketing
Since Ahna Donahue and I have degrees in English – we lean towards written content. However, we are also fully capable of creating infographics, video content, and photography. We don’t put that immediately upfront, because we market ourselves as offering the best written content available.
So when a potential client comes to our website, social media platforms, or is referred to us, they know immediately what we are after. This can help the client make the decision of if we are right for them. This also helps you narrow your client funnel. Those that want services outside of what we offer will go elsewhere and those that want our services will stay.
We understand that meeting collaborators can be difficult, especially on something as important as content marketing. If you would like to discuss how we can best serve your business, please reach out to us and let us know how we can be of help. If you have any tips on identifying your best customers, make sure you connect with us on social media or leave a comment below.