If you’ve ever struggled with identifying your ideal client, don’t feel too bad. This is something every personal brand business struggles with.
I’ve been there, too. Take a look at this picture. In March 2014, I was fifteen months into building my business on-the-side.
I attended conferences, invested in courses, and read countless books. Blogging was a priority — I published every single week, without fail! But take a look at the frustration:
Just overwhelmed. Blog has plateaued. I don’t know who my audience is. Don’t know what to write about that will connect with people. I have no idea.
I read all the advice that said “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one” — but the truth is I was scared of niching down, scared I would limit my audience, and ultimately limit my income. Keeping my options open felt like a warm security blanket. In reality, that security blanket capped my growth.
The Activity I Loved to Hate: The Ideal Client Exercise
Oh, how I hated those ideal client exercises — with a passion! Tell me if any of these sound familiar:
- Who is your avatar?
- Who do you love to serve?
- What demographic do you want to reach?
- Who is your ideal client?
- How much money do you want to make?
- What industry are you really passionate about?
- What do you want to be known for in five years?
Anytime I came across one of these questions, I wanted to scream, “IF I KNEW I WOULD TELL YOU AND BE A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE!” (My attitude didn’t help much.)
Pick One: Demographics or Psychographics.
These exercises frustrate us because we over-complicate. We focus on both demographics — stats like age, income, locale, education — and psychographics — people’s attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria.
Getting clarity didn’t happen until I focused on one, which (for me) happened to be psychographics.
It’s no wonder, because if you asked me at the time what my ideal demographic was, my reply would have been “Anyone willing and able to fork over loads of cash to me.”
You May Well Be Your Own Ideal Client.
When I took a deeper look at psychographics, it became clear: I was my own ideal client. Sounds so narcissistic, I know. But honestly, I wanted to work with someone who was willing to:
- spend thousands of dollars investing in themselves
- work their tail off and not make excuses that life was too hard
- use vacation days to attend paid events that grew their network
- trim the fat off their lives, ruthlessly cutting out TV and other time-wasting activities
- read a lot of books
- listen to a lot of podcasts
- add value first, rather than be a selfish opportunist
- shine the spotlight on others, rather than themselves
If there’s a part of you that just said, “Mike! That sounds just like me!” well — your ideal client may be the person you were just a few years ago. You’re wiser, more skilled, and better connected than you were back then. You’ve got a wealth of experience that’s accumulated over time.
That’s relevant to those who are just starting out, and you’ve at least identified the psychographics of the type of person you’d like to work with or serve.
Still Stuck? Use the “Exclusionary Persona Principle”
If you’re still stuck, think about the type of person you don’t want to work with.
For example, you don’t want to work with a person that refuses to take action, or sees themselves as an exception to every rule, or never pays.Think of it as chiseling away at a block of marble, like a sculptor. You’re actually not creating anything, you’re just chipping away to reveal the true form of who you envision reaching.
Grab This Free Worksheet Today.
Well, here I am writing about how I hate these exercises, and now giving you one myself. The difference? It’s simple, and it requires you write things down.
A favorite quote I encountered when starting my business: “Thoughts disentangle themselves through the lips and the fingertips.” In other words, writing things down helps you gain clarity.
So download this simple worksheet and choose whatever you want to write down: demographic info, or psychographic info. It’s simple, but powerful — and it will help remind you of who you’re trying to serve in your business.