Warning: Reading this article will forever change the way you describe your business!
I make such a big promise in the title of this article that you may be thinking I must have a lot of nerve, or I’m delusional, or both. But trust me: I really have hit upon the most powerful marketing concept of all time. I call it the “The Ideal Client Conversation” and it works like this.
Step #1: Identify the client who is right for you.
My business partner, Bill Bishop, calls this step Your #1 Client Type and it simply asks you to choose an identifiable client type and offer something special to individuals fitting the category. To help you choose your #1 client type, answer these 3 questions:
? Who represents the most opportunity to you and your business?
? Who can you help the most?
? Who is most fulfilling to work with?
The more specific you can be, the better. For example, I have a client who works solely with medical doctors 50 years of age or older. Over the years she has accumulated tremendous insights and wisdom about their strengths, weaknesses and the circumstances they face. In some ways, she knows them better than they know themselves. And her ever-increasing expertise in helping doctors structure their practices and personal finances enables her to tell a very powerful and compelling story that resonates with her clients and attracts great prospects.
Step #2: List all of the characteristics that make your clients ideal.
Now, I realize no client is perfect, but if you take the time to identify all the characteristics you look for in your very best clients, you will be able to tap into the power of The Ideal Client Conversation. For example, one of my clients, an employee benefits advisor, works with business owners who:
o Are always looking for ways to improve their business.
o Are open-minded and welcome new ideas.
o Place a high value on other people’s expertise.
o Are decisive and practical.
o Understand the vital contribution employees make to their company’s success
o Consider their reputation to be one of their most precious assets.
o Are loyal and willing to invest in long-term relationships.
o Employ between 100 and 500 people.
Right away, it is easy to see 3 key advantages created by having this list:
1. Recognize great prospects more easily. Sounds simple right? It is. But, let’s think it through further. If you clearly describe your ideal client, you can share that description with your existing clients and other sources of introductions and referrals. They will then be better able to recognize top prospects on your behalf, and they will be equipped with a story that resonates with those prospects. Also, being clear about whom your ideal prospects are lets you more easily identify where they go for peer support, networking, education and information.
2. Attract more great prospects. It really works! If you share your ideal client description in conversations and through marketing tools and activities, people who possess these great characteristics will recognize themselves. It’s as if you are holding up a mirror and they can’t resist stopping to take a look.
3. Position your business as ‘Exclusive.’ Equipped with this description, you can honestly say, “I have created something special and it is only for people who have these characteristics.” If prospects do not possess most of these characteristics, they do not qualify to work with you. You are special, your clients are special and together you are accomplishing great things.
Step #3: Use your ideal client characteristics to package everything.
As we all know, successful relationships are mutually beneficial, two-way streets. If you have the nerve to demand only ideal clients, you had better be prepared to pay them back for bringing all these great characteristics to you. How do you pay them back? What do you do to recognize, protect and enhance every characteristic you demand of them?
Here is an example of what I mean. The ideal client described in Step #2 is a business owner who “understands the vital contribution employees make to the company’s success.” By recognizing this characteristic in the employees, my client–the employee benefits advisor–acknowledges the contribution employees make to the success of his clients’ businesses. The employee benefits advisor then protects his business owner clients by constantly looking for new ways to maximize the return they get from their investment in employees. And, he helps enhance this fine characteristic by providing innovative strategies and tools that encourage employee loyalty, engagement and initiative.
As you can imagine, the conversation between the benefits advisor and his clients is rarely about the cost of health care premiums and other benefits. Instead, it is a much more meaningful and purposeful one about what matters most to the client and the goals they are trying to achieve together.
Step #4: Use your Ideal Client Description to turbo-charge your business.
Let’s say that after reading this article you take the time to choose a #1 Client Type and develop a list of the characteristics that make the client ideal. Now what? The first thing to do is to look at each characteristic in isolation and identify how you recognize, protect and enhance each of them. You will spot some gaps. Filling these gaps will provide the incentive and creative inspiration you need to constantly work on and improve your ability to help clients.
Next, look at your marketing materials and review your marketing and sales scripts. Does your ideal client show up at all, or is it all just about you and how great your products and services are?
This is my final point: Whenever you want to present (sell) something to a client, do not start the discussion with what it is, what it does and why it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Instead, get into The Ideal Client Conversation and start by letting clients know you recognize who they are, and then showing them how the new product, service, idea, whatever it is, helps them protect and enhance their most important characteristics.
Curtis Verstraete is president of Bishop Information Group, a consulting firm that specializes in helping financial advisors brand and package their expertise. He can be reached at .