In my work with business owners, we often discuss how to grow their businesses through better marketing. When I ask business owners to describe their ideal client, I cringe every time I hear the answer: “I can work with anyone.”

I’m sure everyone has heard some variation of that answer. It could be: “Everyone is a prospect.” Or: “Anyone who has the money is a prospect.” That way of thinking is one of the biggest fallacies in business, especially when it comes to marketing.

You Simply Can’t Market to Everyone

While it may be technically true that anyone with money could buy your product or service, from a marketing standpoint, you simply can’t market to “everyone.” Our experience has shown us many times over that marketing is far more effective when you’re spending all your efforts marketing to your ideal client or, as we call them, your avatar.

When you narrow your focus, you actually broaden your appeal. Many business owners have a difficult time grasping this concept. Often, they think: “What if I miss out on a big part of my potential market?” It’s the biggest concern I’ve encountered when it comes to marketing to your avatar.

Finding Your Avatar

Here’s a classic example of marketing to your avatar. When I was a kid, a guy named Charles Atlas sold a body building and exercise program to millions of young men. In the magazine ads, there was always a skinny guy on the beach with his girl. Suddenly, a big muscle-bound guy would come along, kick sand in the skinny guy’s face, and take his girlfriend.

It was a powerful ad (maybe because I was one of the skinny guys). And, it was a perfect example of marketing to your avatar. Would people other than skinny guys benefit from Charles Atlas’ training? Probably. But he knew exactly who his ad was going to have the greatest effect on. It was a piece of simple yet brilliant marketing. He knew the fears and hopes of young men. He knew how to reach them emotionally. And he knew what was important to them.

We’ve had clients see a dramatic change in their marketing results once they began marketing exclusively to their avatar. When I say avatar, I don’t mean the fairytale version of who you think should be your client. All of us small business owners have felt frustration because the people we think should be buying from us don’t. Typically, this is an indication that we haven’t done a good enough job identifying our ideal client.

Understanding Your Avatar

I want you to understand who your ideal clients really are. A good place to start is by taking a close look at who your current clients are.

  • Why do they buy from you?
  • What caused them to want to do business with you in the first place?
  • What are their circumstances?
  • What is their age range?
  • What are their common denominators?

Please don’t guess at these questions. Take the time to understand clearly who your clients are and what motivates them. Make sure you know what they feel like, look like, and act like.

It’s very important to not make any assumptions about what drives and motivates your clients. If you do make assumptions, likely that your marketing efforts likely will not create the results you’re looking for. You must get a thorough understanding of your client, including their

  • Fears
  • Worries
  • Goals
  • Desires
  • Challenges

Understand what makes your clients tick, how they make decisions, why they do what they do, and why they buy what they buy.

When figuring out your ideal client, avoid descriptions and cliché terms, such as joy, satisfaction, or peace of mind.

We’re all looking for peace of mind, aren’t we? Therefore, words and phrases like “peace of mind” don’t mean much and they’re difficult to measure and define.

Instead, I’d rather you think about your clients’ age, gender, activities, and where they typically get their information as you consider the following questions:

  • What problems does my product or service solve?
  • How do those problems manifest for potential clients in real life?
  • Why is this a common problem for my clients?
  • What makes my clients look for help in solving this problem?
  • What are their common characteristics?

Also consider who you love to work with, who you’re best positioned to help, and who is willing/able to pay you. Then create all your marketing messages for that ideal client.

Use the Right Marking to Target Your Ideal Client

Another advantage to marketing specifically to your avatar is that, based on what you know about them, you can better decide which methods of marketing will have the greatest impact.

You can get your message out in countless ways—from inbound and digital to direct response to advertising to networking. But, based on your avatar, certain methods will have far better results than others.

As counterintuitive as it feels, if you market only to your ideal client, you’ll see remarkable changes in your outcomes. Let me know how it works for you.

About the Author
Michael Keiser is Co-Founder of coaching, marketing, and advisory company The E Circle.