Can your ideal client please step up
Let me introduce you to my client, Mark; in his late forties, and running his own independent agency.
Mark was working for a corporate, way back, but left when he felt constrained by their way of doing things. He knew he could be a better estate agent on his own, and has been proving that he can every day for over ten years. He once thought he might like to open more branches, but lately, Mark thinks he would be happy if the one he had was doing better.
Mark has been married to Fiona for nearly twenty years; she works part-time for a local company, but steps in to do the books for him, and the occasional viewing. They have two sons, one still in school and the other recently left uni, so they have had an expensive few years. Still, they usually manage a couple of weeks in the Algarve or France each year, and eventually they would like to buy a cottage abroad.
Not exactly a techno-phobe, Mark doesn’t always get on with technology. He has an iPhone but sticks to Dell in the office. He knows he should be using social media, but apart from the bit of chatting he does with other agents on Twitter, he doesn’t have the time or know-how to turn his modest social media presence into instructions.
All Mark really wants is to build the business up to pre 2007 levels, so that in five years or so, he can pass it onto his sons, or sell it. Trouble is, there are some really aggressive competitors moving in on his patch, and his market share seems to be dwindling each year, despite spending more and more on newspaper advertising (he can’t quite convince himself to give it up), and canvassing (he used to get a steady 1%, now most times he gets zero).
Mark needs my help.
I really like Mark; he’s kind, self-effacing and funny. He listens to me, and writes himself a to-do list when we talk. He’s not afraid to try some pretty innovative marketing ideas, and really values my input. Since we’ve been working together, he’s developed a new enthusiasm and passion for what he does, and now feels motivated again. Better still, his efforts are really starting to pay off, and that only makes him more determined to persist with these new initiatives.
Do you know Mark?
Maybe there’s a little bit of Mark in you?
You see, Mark doesn’t exist, or rather, he’s a composite of all the Marks I work with, some more Mark-like than others. When I write my blog – this blog – I write it to Mark. My courses and programmes are designed to help him overcome his current challenges, and reach his goals more effectively. This doesn’t mean that Michelle doesn’t enjoy my blogs, or buy my advice: everything I do is entirely relevant for her and her business, and she benefits from my ideas enormously; but when Mark reads something I’ve written, or watches one of my webinars, he feels I’m speaking directly to him.
Who’s your ideal client?
We all like to feel that our marketing – be it online or offline – is resonating with our target audience, but sometimes we forget that our audience is made up of lots of individual people. Lots of Susans, and Georges, Johns and Victorias, Andys and Julies. By identifying one absolutely perfect client, you’ll ensure that your marketing laser targets that receptive, interested person, rather than spray-painting a whole crowd of disinterested folk who won’t respond to anything you show them.
I was chatting to Andy Overman from Chilterns the other day, and I asked him, “Who’s your favourite client?”
He answered straight away, “Nick”, and went on to explain why:
“He is dead easy to work with, loves everything we do, and sends us a crate of Champagne every Christmas”. Blimey, we could all do with clients like that. “And why do you think he loves you so much?” I probed.
“Because he says he can sit on the beach, with his feet up, cocktail in hand, knowing that his rental properties are in the safest hands with us”.
Bingo. Andy has found someone who not only gets exactly the service he needs, but is happy to pay for it too. All Andy needs is lots of Nicks. Let’s look at how he can do this.
Andy needs to know some detailed information about Nick:
Occupation and income bracket
Married? Kids? Pets?
What kind of house he lives in
What kind of car he drives
Where he goes on holiday
What brands he likes (Waitrose or Lidl? Apple or PC?)
Hobbies and interests
What he watches on tv (Eastenders or Coast? Panorama or the Great British Bake-off?)
Let’s dig a bit deeper:
Eg doesn’t have the time to source more properties
Goals and objectives
Eg wants to retire in five years
Needs from Andy
Eg help in finding new properties
How he can reach Nick:
Prefers email, not letters, as he travels a lot
Doesn’t have time for most social media, but enjoys Facebook
Chucks the local free paper away but reads the paid version cover to cover
Never responds to direct mail, but would come to an event about finding new properties
And right there, Andy knows where to reach him, what to say and how to be the right agent for him. Pretty powerful stuff, right?
Who’s your Nick?
Does someone spring to mind? A vendor or landlord who is easy to deal with, loves everything you do, and is happy to pay the bill when the time comes? Great.
Now take the first checklist above and print it out. Can you answer all those questions about them?
If you find that some of the answers are not typical of the client you’ve chosen, then try creating a composite of several ideal clients, and see if your answers are easier to identify.
Once you’ve described your client fully, then look at their current challenges and goals. What is keeping them awake at night? What problem, if you could solve it for them, would make you absolutely indispensable for them? What goal could you help them to achieve that would have them telling everyone they know how wonderful you are?
The last part of this exercise is super important, so don’t skip it. You need to know where you can reach your ideal client. There’s no point in spending hundreds of pounds each month on newspaper advertising if they prefer digital communication. And that very pretty social media campaign you’re running won’t get you the result you’re hoping for if your client is old school.
Creating an ideal client persona is the most important part of any marketing you do
Otherwise, it’s like pinning the tail on the donkey with a blindfold on – so much easier to get it right if you cheat and peek.
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What to read next: Who’s Your Pacemaker?
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