A few years ago, I spent an entire half-day with the top advisor in the state of Oklahoma working on one issue. Our mission: to determine who was his ideal client.
Identifying his ideal client was key to the other work we were doing for him. We had to create a compelling story, an elevator statement and then a tagline. But before we could even start with those important marketing tasks, we needed to identify the perfect client and their pain.
This turned out to be a much harder project than you would think. Our advisory client, whom I will call Ken, had a lot of financial planning clients and never considered which ones were ideal; the ones he would like to duplicate.
I think of these people as the “heavenly clients.” We want our practice to be filled with these wonderful people. They make our days easy and fun. It is a joy to be around them and every day they make us grateful to be in this business.
Once Ken had the heavenly client clearly in his mind, then all of his marketing materials could be refocused on the needs of this client. Any prospective clients reading Ken’s newsletter, looking at Ken’s LinkedIn page or checking out Ken’s website will be thinking: “This guy works with folks just like me!” This is one of the many steps that can make it easier to secure the relationship with a new client.
Let me run through what we did for Ken, because it can be a great exercise for you and your team. Here is how we helped him identify his heavenly client:
First we zeroed in on his top clients—the ones who were the most profitable to the firm. I figured these were the ones we wanted to duplicate. No need in bringing in more unprofitable clients!
I used my flip charts and we put each of his top clients on their own piece of paper, so we could write down the answers to the rest of these questions under their names. We probably had about 20 clients, each with their own page tacked up on the walls of his office.
Then we put them through a few other screens that I think of as the “likability” factors including: Were they easy to work with? Did they appreciate Ken’s advice? Did they follow the advice? Did they send him referrals?
We eliminated any clients from the survey that didn’t get good “likability” scores.
Once they pass the likability screens, we looked at demographics: What is their average age? Are they married? Do they have children (and how old)? What is their profession? What do they like to do for fun? Are there any common activities within this group?
The final question: What are their biggest financial pain factors?
Once we got through these, we started seeing patterns. That’s what you want to look for when you do this exercise. Most of Ken’s favorite clients had the following attributes:
- In their 30s;
- Professional couples;
- With young children;
- Shared his spiritual/political values;
- Liked outdoor family activities, particularly whitewater rafting;
- Their biggest pain factors were saving for college and retirement.