Let’s talk today about one of those super confusing topics.
Yes, I’m talking about the ideal client avatar! The target client! Niching! (Side note, it’s a neesh, not nitch.)
I did a mini-training on this in my Instagram stories and I’ve never gotten more feedback on anything as I did on this training. I know it hit a mark. Here’s why:
- Why is it confusing?
Because there’s a lot of marketing and branding jargon thrown around when people talk about this. Also, because there’s so much weight in this topic and all the “experts” both make it sound really important and simultaneously do nothing to break it down for you in a way that feels approachable.
- Let’s break down that confusion.
I prefer not to talk about this subject in terms like an avatar.
It feels unapproachable. Depending on who you are and what your background is, you either think an avatar is the picture you choose for your Netflix profile character or the fantastical world of Pandora.
Now, you might see me use the phrase “ideal client” when I’m teaching out there in the interwebs even though it’s not my favorite term. Why? I’m meeting my students where they’re at. If that’s the term they’re familiar with, it’s what I’ll use UNTIL they’re in my world, like here on this blog. We’re in a more intimate setting now and I’ve got more than your passing attention, unlike scrolling through Instagram.
Instead, let’s call them your best client.
Why? Because this is all you need to know about them, that they’re your BEST client.
Your best client is the person you can serve BEST. Not serve well, but serve best. They have a particular problem and you have a particular skill set that perfectly solves that problem. (cue: Liam Neeson!)
Unlike our buddy Liam, the best client scenario goes a step further. Your particular set of skills aren’t going to make you a nightmare for people, but an absolute dream.
Because not only do your knowledge and skills solve the exact pain point they’re experiencing, you do so in a way that matches their personality (or their energy, or vibe, or whichever way you want to describe this). If you’ve worked with me, I come about this from the side of core values.
Now let’s jump forward a bit and then I’ll give a concrete example.
If you’ve niched down correctly and you’re showing up online consistently, this best client will find you easily. The content you’re putting out there is attracting them with ease. You’re filling your latest program or course without a struggle.
If you’re still speaking to a broad market, you’re in the opposite situation. Your last course launch was a flop. You’re probably struggling to show up consistently for your business because you’re not sure what to say or when you do finally post you get crickets in response and feel like, “why bother?”
Knowing exactly who you’re speaking to (that best client!) gives you one of the tools to show up. When you know who you can best serve, you know what to say. At this point, you just need a system for organizing your content and posting regularly, so go check out The Show Up System if you need help with that.
Okay, time for a concrete example.
Let’s say you’re a life coach who helps women in their 30’s get control of their lives and find themselves again in the post-divorce phase. Conventional wisdom says you’ve got yourself an ideal client avatar. Conventional wisdom also says now that you’ve chosen your avatar or niche or target market, you should only cater to them.
There are two problems that will probably come up quickly.
- You’re going to find women that have a wide range of capacities, mindsets, and personalities in that group.In this scenario, let’s say you’ve got a framework that moves your clients through mindset adjustments around who you are in the world. You know from experience of working with clients that it has to be done in a certain order or you can’t get the results you promise.Cheryl is 35, has 3 kids, and after a 12-year marriage, she’s struggling with going back to work and managing the three kids and feeling like she’s less than after the marriage failure. She knows she needs to take care of herself so she seeks you out, but since she’s so short on time she wants to skip a few weeks of your program and just “get to the good stuff.” Or better yet, not even take your program and can she just hire you for a VIP day and get a quick fix and get back to her life?
Tanya, on the other hand, is also 35 with a few kids and knows she needs to take care of herself first, oxygen-mask-style. She seeks you out and immediately enrolls in your program.Which one is your best client? Technically, they’re both your ideal client avatar. And, well, they both want to give you money, so…
- There are women who aren’t in their 30’s whom you know you can also help. You followed the experts’ advice and market to women in their 30’s, but in the last week a 57-year-old and 26-year-old both reached out and asked if you can help them.Again, technically they’re not your ideal client.This is where my best client comes in. Both of these women can absolutely be your best client if you determine you truly can help them with some clarifying questions.
Maybe you decide you can’t best serve the 26-year-old because she doesn’t have kids and her life is too different from your typical client. Maybe you decide that doesn’t matter and your framework crosses age guidelines and you can absolutely help her. That’s up to you. YOU get to say yes or no.
So let’s take a pause for a minute here, because you might be thinking… “Britney, it sounds like you’re saying I don’t need a niche at all?”
Nope, that’s not what I’m saying.
You do need a niche. Every time you make a business decision, you should be asking if it will serve your best client well. Every time you design a new product or service, you should be thinking of how your best client will respond to it. Is it something THEY think they need, not just something you know will help them.
And most definitely, every time you sit down to write a Facebook or Instagram post, you should be writing to your best client.
Just know this, that best client might have variations. She might be 35… or 57. She might have 4 kids, or maybe just 1. A lot of this will depend on your specialty and how rigid your service is. But no marketing expert can tell you what only YOU know best: are you the best person to help them?
Here’s what I recommend:
Write out who your best client is.
Spend some time stalking them online. Who are they following? Where are they going to eat? Do they even eat out? Are they ordering water at every restaurant or always ordering a drink? What brand of clothing do they favor? Are they wearing comfortable shoes or stylish heels? Which Netflix show are they willing to binge, or do they not watch Netflix or not even watch TV?
I’d like to point out – I didn’t ask you to find out their age. Those conventional demographics don’t matter as much as you probably thought. What matters is HOW THEY THINK.
Once you’ve done that stalking, sit down in front of your computer or journal and write a few pages out as if you were that person. What are they thinking? What drives them to be better? What keeps them tossing and turning at night and what makes their eyes glaze over during the day?
THIS is how you get those “how did you know what I was thinking?” responses.
Because all of this “best client” stuff leads to a great brand message.
A great brand message will allow your best client to feel understood by you.
You’ll note I didn’t say, they understand you, but rather… they FEEL UNDERSTOOD by you.
This is the key, folks. Everything we’ve ever talked about on this show comes down to this one thing.
All of marketing is just getting your brand message out there by packaging up products to serve this one idea: your best client wants to feel understood by YOU.
And to take it to another level, they want you to believe IN THEM, too.
When I say things like you need to know your best clients’ pain points so well that when you speak about them they literally feel like you’re ripping words out of their head? That’s because this is how they will feel understood by you.
When people feel understood by you, they forge a connection, a bond with you. You see this online when they casually throw out the, “She’s my virtual BFF” phrase around.
You don’t need to worry about your ideal customer avatar. I mean, if you can’t sit down and write out those journaling pages I mentioned, then by all means, give your best client an actual avatar. Give her the name Jane and decide she’s a 28-year-old career gal who just discovered her poor gut health is the cause of her skin problems.
There’s nothing wrong with using an avatar if it helps you to write your marketing message out. If having an actual avatar for your best client allows you to show up consistently for your business online, by all means–use the avatar!
But don’t let that term stop you from getting out there. Having a vague idea of who you can best serve, writing to exactly that person in a passionate way and then HELPING them– that’s all you need to do.