Growing Your Ideal Client Base By Zeroing In On The Right People

“Doug” is a smart, talented guy with a highly marketable expertise very much in demand in his market.

And yet he was discouraged with the growth—or lack thereof—in his consulting business.

Because for every stellar client he engaged, he endured handfuls of challenging ones.

Ultimately, he realized the problem: since he hadn’t finely tuned his ideal client profile, he found himself saying “yes” to anyone kind of/sort of in the vicinity.

The solution? Getting 100% clarity on exactly the right client, so Doug would know where to confidently invest his time.

I had Doug rank every client a 1 to a 5 (with 5 being “give me 100% of those” and 1 being “never darken my door again”).

Then, we set a new ground rule: never say yes to any 1, 2 or 3’s again. (We made a list of the qualities or situations that made for a likely low ranking so Doug could screen for those).

Then, we teased out what made clients and/or their projects a 4 or a 5. It was a pretty simple list:

The organization was a) in a specific industry that Doug knew well and b) in a deep state of flux with a bet-the-business problem.

The lead client—whose function was directly impacted by the problem—was intellectually and emotionally ready to commit to outside help for the project.

It was clear they understood the impact of their work with Doug and were willing to anchor his fees to the high value outcomes of solving the big problem.

They demonstrated their commitment to transparent communications no matter what the stakes.

And just like that, Doug had the front-end tools to say yes or no at any stage of acquiring a new client.

But these are more than just client acquisition cues.

You can also use them to frame how you build your authority so that the right people hear you and are pulled into your circle.

When Doug started shifting his new business conversations, his authority building changed too.

Now his emails and articles speak more to his ideal client—and he’s leaning into some community building as a way to connect former and future clients while teaching them his point of view.

He even tackled LinkedIn, which he’d studiously avoided since he couldn’t figure out how to use it strategically to connect with his audience.

Now, it all made sense.

p.s. If you find yourself struggling with identifying your ideal client, download my Client Avatar Brandsheet here.

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