Who's Your Ideal Client?
Wow. Seems like an easy question. But watch executives squirm as they try and articulate the ‘various’ clients they have and then defend why each is as important as the next.
Many marketing consultants will tell you that you have to mine your database. They tell you this to help you understand your client. Databases are great. Information mining is fantastic. Understanding where your clients spend their money is really important. But… Do you really understand your client?
The more information we seem to accumulate, the more cavalier we treat information. Utilizing your database helps you to do market segmentation, not identify your ideal client.
We also find that clients often confuse their third-party channel partners as clients. The channel partner’s responsibility is to get your products to the market place.. Although the channel is a means to an end, they are not your ideal client. They enable your products to be purchased by your end-user client. As enablers though, they can either streamline your process or act as a roadblock. Supporting them with systems, processes, motivating incentives and marketing initiatives will keep them loyal and happy. But don’t confuse the two entities.
We spend a great deal of time working with our clients to identify their ‘ideal client’; at times it seems exhausting. However, this has been a rewarding experience in the last couple of coaching sessions I’ve conducted.
In one situation, we learned that the profile of an ideal client was limiting my client’s business growth. The firm (a media company) developed its business in the professional sports market and was quite successful. The firm had captured a significant portion of the NFL pro teams and a scattering of pro teams in three other sports markets including the NBA, NHL and MLB. However, when the company landed the contract for a major media musical star, to use their system in promoting a cross country tour, we realized that the product had depth in other markets. By examining their ideal client definition more deeply, we were able to take a broader look at the marketplace and expand their business.
This exercise is very powerful to help you really understand your clients, not only who they are, but why they buy from you. It’s also a good idea, as we’ve found, to review this process on an ongoing basis; to re-examine and test for changes to your customer base or to your market.