If you want to create customers that love your product/service so much that they do the marketing for you, then you’re in the right place. This post is jam packed with resources and exercises to help you get really clear on your messaging so people walk away thinking, “She totally gets me!”
What is an Ideal Client Avatar (ICA)?
Before we even get started, we need to determine who your ideal client is. An ICA is two things.
- It’s the customer or business partner that you dream about working with.
- It’s also the person that is most likely to purchase and appreciate your products or services.
I work with so many business owners that “want to serve everyone” and that just isn’t going to work. They believe that if they limit their offerings to a specific group of people, then they will miss out on potential business with those outside of that group. The opposite is the reality and you will actually end up drawing in fewer people by targeting a group too large - at least in the beginning.
"I work with so many business owners that “want to serve everyone” and that just isn’t going to work."
What happens when my ICA is too broad?
When our ICA is too broad, your customers won’t feel heard. They’ll feel it’s great for everyone else, but not quite what they need. A dialed in target audience means you can get very specific with your messaging so your customers end up saying, “She gets me. This is a product/service that solves x problem for me. She’s speaking my language.”
Pssst… I have a couple of exercises below that will help narrow down your ICA and fine tune your messaging.
This doesn’t mean that others outside of your target audience can’t or won’t become a customer of yours. What it does mean is that your message be so laser focused that your customers will crave what you’re offering and recognize that you can solve one of their greatest pain points with your product or service. Essentially, you can have the best offering, but it won’t matter if your messaging doesn’t speak to your customers.
What problems does your product or service solve?
The key to speaking their language is to come at it from the angle of addressing the problems they need solving first, then how your offering solves that issue. You don’t want to be in the business of convincing people that your product or service is amazing. Instead, if you address problems and solutions, you won’t have to convince anyone. They will see the value on their own. Consumers buy products that primarily solve problems. So it’s incredibly important to brainstorm, what does your product or service solve?
Remember, all problems are emotional on some level. They can make us angry, frustrated, sad, or anything else. All consumers make purchases based on emotions. See if you can identify the problems, solutions, and the emotions attached to them in the following examples:
- Problem = “I want to wake up feeling ready for the day. I don’t like how much time I spend applying makeup in the morning. My eyelashes are too blonde or short to see anymore.”
- Emotions = busy/stressed, embarrassed, desire for beauty
- Problem = “I don’t have time to clean. To keep my hardwood floors clean, I would have to vacuum or sweep every day. The kids get the floors messy again within minutes of cleaning. I wish I could wake up or come home from work and my floors were already clean.”
- Emotions = stressed, tired, frustrated, overwhelmed
- “I am not a graphic designer - how can I possibly put out beautiful images for my business social media accounts? I can’t afford to hire a designer to create images for me. I’m not techy at all so I have no hope of having nice images on my blog.”
- Emotions = anxious, frustrated, despair, financial stress
When you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.
Everything in your business should revolve around your ICA and the problems they need solving. If you do not have a specific ideal client avatar written out (more on that below), one of two things may happen.
- You’re going to attract the wrong client which means you won't be working with the people who appreciate your business and they won’t get you excited to go to work each day. Instead, you're going to attract the kind of clients who are always going to devalue your work. These are the people who ask you to lower your prices or tell you that they love what you do, but you're too expensive.
- You’re going to have fewer customers than you thought and you won’t be able to sustain your business.
I want you to zero in on one specific person. This is why I say “ideal client” versus “ideal clients”. This one person will embody the absolute best customer of yours. This is who you should be speaking to in your messaging. Then others like this person will gravitate towards you too.
A case study from my business
When I first started my business (of finding and training virtual assistants for entrepreneurs), I thought my target market was anyone building a doTERRA business (because I used to be an assistant to a few top ranking leaders in the company).
I couldn’t possibly convince people that I knew and understood them by trying to market to all doTERRA leaders. They’re not all alike and they don’t have the same needs. Those first few months had some slow growth, but I knew I needed to change something. This is when I came up with my ICA. It looked a little like this:
- I understood being a busy mother and business owner. I was one and I saw firsthand what it looked like for others when I was an assistant supporting entrepreneurs myself.
- I knew the stressors that higher ranked doTERRA leaders faced as their teams grew.
- I knew that more established business owners were not only in desperate need of help, but they usually had the financial resources to invest in an assistant.
- I saw the burnout in leaders who tried to do everything on their own.
- I knew that time was a major factor for my clients and the thought of going through resumes, interviews, and ultimately training someone was enough to push people away from getting an assistant.
- I knew the company was located in Springville, Utah and many of the leaders lived in surrounding areas.
Here’s what happened when I dialed it in:
With this knowledge, I went from marketing to all doTERRA leaders to focusing on busy, higher-level leaders (Platinum and above). They had already done the self-discovery work needed to get past limiting mindsets about their business and they were ready to invest in a virtual assistant. They were typically female entrepreneurs who had been running their businesses for several years.
By focusing in a narrow space at the beginning, it helped me connect with likeminded people. They had similar values, desires, lifestyles, and even political leanings. I knew how to speak to them.
As I built relationships and gained the trust of my clients, they started telling more people about my services and my reach grew outside of Utah. Those people began telling others until it eventually grew to be an international business.
It’s important to note that I was nearly inactive on my business social media accounts as things grew. Word of mouth (aka happy customers who knew that I understood their needs) is what grew my business. Since I knew what they needed, I was also able to regularly adapt my services to support their specific pain points. I actually think social media is a valuable tool to growing your business, but the first priority is to learn how to speak to your customers and understand what keeps them up at night.
Why getting laser focused helped me create an international business:
Let me be clear. My original intention was not to start a global company. As those customers came to me, however, I built services and products around them that supported their specific needs. The key is to listen to their concerns and see if you can create something that addresses those things. Then you’ll have customers who do the marketing for you.
So you can see, by zeroing in on a specific group, it ultimately cast a wider net than I ever thought possible. Now I serve people all over the world like Canada, Chile, California, Romania, Japan, the Philippines, Italy, and more.
Do you see the difference? It’s not that I didn’t want to help newer doTERRA leaders, international clients, or even other types of business. I actually do a lot of that now. The key was to start with a specific ICA then expand that over time.
How do you find your ideal client?
First, you need to do a very thorough brainstorm of your ICA’s characteristics. Our goal is to get overly specific at first so you can then expand to the right people in the right way.
This specificity helps you understand their mindset and motivations so you can ultimately design products or services that meet the needs of your ideal client. You want your customers to walk away thinking, “Now this person gets me.”
Here are some things to think about regarding your ICA:
- Give your ICA a name (if he/she is fictional). Yes, narrow it down to one person for now. It can be an existing customer that has raved about your business, someone you haven’t yet met, or someone completely made up.
- What is their age range?
- What is their gender? (This doesn't mean that you can't appeal to both men and women but for now we're talking about one person)
- Where is this person located? Don't write down a country or state. Instead choose a specific city.
- What are they watching and with what? Blue Bloods, Gilmore Girls, reality shows, the cooking channel? Do they have a Dish satellite or just streaming services? Why do they watch the shows that they watch? How much time do they spend watching TV? Maybe your ICA doesn't watch TV at all. Why? Do they consume other types of media like the news, social media, or something else?
- When do they shop? After work, weekends, late at night on their phones?
- How do they shop? Are they online shoppers or do they prefer in-person at retail stores?
- Where do they shop? Do they have certain brands they liked? Why do they shop at the places that they shop? If they prefer Target over Walmart why? Is it because the products are different? Is customer service different? Do they more ethically align with Target? Or is Target’s personality more aligned with theirs?
- What is their average income?
- What is their relationship status?
- Do they have kids?
- What are they reading? How often are they reading? Do they read self-help, nonfiction memoirs, poetry, or fantasy? Are there certain authors that they like and why? Why do they enjoy reading the books that they read? If they don't read why aren't they reading? Are they too busy to read?
- What social media platforms do they use? What do they like about the platforms they use? Why are they on some platforms but not others? Is it because they don't understand other platforms? Is it because they haven't seen that other platforms are effective, or do they ethically disagree with certain platforms?
- Who are they following on social media? Why are they following them? Why do they like them? What type of content do they interact with? What are their favorite YouTube channels? Who are their favorite bloggers?
- What is their news source? Is it a TV channel? If so, which one? Digital newspaper, physically newspaper, or social media?
- What is their political affiliation? Are they really into politics? Do they know enough about politics to make a choice on who to vote for? Do they despise politics? How do their ethics play into this?
- What podcasts are they listening to? Do they like true crime, influencers, business, religious, entertainment, or something else?
- What are their hobbies? What is their relationship status? Do they have kids? Are they married with kids or single parents? If they don't have kids, do they want kids? If they aren't married are they in a relationship or single?
- What industry do they work in? Are they happy with their employment? Why?
- What is their working status? Do they have several part time jobs or a standard 9-5 job with weekends off? Are they in and out of jobs frequently or is it more stable? Are they running a side hustle with the hopes of transitioning it to a full time job.
- Do they eat out? If so where? Do they cook most of their food at home? Why? Is it because they are health conscious or is it for monetary reasons or do they just prefer home cooked meals? Where do they buy their groceries? Is it a place like Walmart or Whole Foods or butcher shops and farmers markets?
Making your content really speak to your audience
Now that you have the characteristics of your ICA written out, you should have a pretty good understanding of who you are speaking to. Kalli Wilson
, a successful Life, Health, & Business Coach, gave me one of the best pieces of advice to help me speak to my customers with the content I put out.
She said to tape a picture of just one person to the corner of my computer screen (or near the video camera). So, if I was speaking to stay-at-home moms who wanted a side income between the ages of 27-40 years old, I would find a picture on the internet of one person that embodies that. This person can be totally fictional.
Or better yet, grab a photo of an existing customer that you adored working with and use that instead. Who raves about your business to all their friends and continues to come back? Now record your video content as if you were speaking to the person in that picture before they discovered your services. Look at that photo as you record your video so the rest of the audience feels like you are speaking right to them.
Another option is to get a photo of someone in your industry that you would love to partner with. When I first started out in my business, I often thought, “I would love to work with so-and-so. I know my services would be perfect for her and I would be giddy working with that person.” If you have someone like this that actually exists, you can use that too. You can also do this exercise when you are preparing speeches, videos, presentations, classes, or podcasts.
Fun fact, I will never forget when some of these people started pouring into my business. I was a little star-struck when people who I had admired for so long actually started coming to me for advice and support. I loved that I could actually work with and provide services that they found value in. I know you can too!
Are you still struggling to get specific with your ICA? This video from Marie Forleo
and Ramit Sethi is incredibly helpful.