Attract the clients and work you want
This is Part 2 of my series "4 Steps to Writing a Purposeful Brand Strategy." Part 1: Market Research (for People Who Hate Doing Research) covered how to do market research in 3 easy steps, so you can really understand the landscape you're entering. Part 2 is all about identifying and attracting that special someone who is your ideal customer.
This is one of my favorite parts of building a brand strategy! I’m fascinated by people, their motivations and internal experiences, what they hope for, what they’re afraid of – the whole shebang. People are weird and wonderful and each and every one is different, while still incredibly similar. So if I get a little excited about this topic, you know why!
Just about every part of your brand strategy comes down to knowing your ideal customer and the experience you want to give them.
You may be thinking, “Why focus on just one customer? Everyone can benefit from my product or service.” I hear you, and I understand your hesitation! But when you’re super clear about who your ideal customer is, here is the good stuff that happens:
You create “This is for me” moments. The best brands are for someone, and that someone recognizes it as being for them – like an exclusive club where they belong. And if you want raving fans who LOVE and identify with what you’re doing, and what you stand for, you want to build a brand that not everyone loves – some people will say you’re just not for them. And that’s okay. Uglydolls may be not for you, but they are for someone, and that's why they've earned $100 million+ in revenue.
You spark curiosity. When I happen across a business that appeals to my aesthetic, personality, and current situation, I immediately want to see and hear more – give me more eye candy! It’s a dopamine rush. That's one thing we all have in common – we all really, really like dopamine. I want to know what the business owner has to say to me, because they clearly understand me and know what I’m going through.(If you want to kill curiosity, make your content as generic as possible. Womp-womp.)
You connect on a personal level. Your content reaches through the computer and grabs her attention. She’s not a member of your audience – you’re sitting in her living room, speaking directly to her.
You attract the right people. Aside from giving your ideal customer that warm and fuzzy feeling, you also attract the customers you really want to work with. When your branding is attuned to a specific type of person, that person starts showing up more often.
Content creation gets more focused. You’re no longer developing content for an audience of thousands, from different backgrounds and in different life situations. Now you’re speaking just to one person – and you have a clear picture of where she’s at in her life, which makes content creation much more efficient.
You make people feel liked. Here’s one for my fellow introverts. When a brand feels “made for me,” I know that the seller people really LIKES people like me. Another dopamine rush! Who doesn't like being liked? I think we’ll get along well and even be friends. When I hired our wedding vendors, did I hire the ones who seemed the most exclusive, prestigious, or affordable? Nope – I hired the ones who seemed to genuinely like us and our wedding aesthetic.
how to identify your ideal customer
Now that we know the why, let’s get down to the how – the nuts and bolts of identifying your ideal customer!
Find a cozy seat, and imagine your ideal customer. Picture what they're doing, what they look like, what they're wearing, what's happening in their life today... imagine every little detail!
Then start writing – build a clear picture, inside and out. Decide:
Basic demographics (Age, gender, etc.)
Occupation and salary level
Personality and interests
Hobbies and passions
Aesthetic preferences and wardrobe
Hopes and dreams
Fears and worries
Current passion project
If you want to take it a step further in getting super clear about your ideal customer, you’re welcome to use my downloadable Branding Workbook – it provides lots of questions and prompts to get the wheels turning and organize your thoughts.
As you're thinking, here are a few important guidelines to keep in mind. Your ideal customer…
Is the hero of the story. Your ideal customer doesn’t want to listen to a story about your brand – they want to know how you can help them in their story! “No one cares about your brand. They care about themselves.” – The User’s Journey. How can your business help your ideal customer complete their story arc? How can you help them become a better, happier version of themselves, or get where they really want to go?
May resemble you – in some ways. My ideal customer does share some traits with me. She’s a female entrepreneur who is nice, ambitious, and careful and deliberate in her decisions. But unlike me, she isn’t a graphic designer – if she were, she’d probably design her own brand identity and wouldn’t need my help.
Is a real person. She is one person, and she really is out there, so speak directly to her! Even if you don't see her fully manifested in one person, she’ll show up in different ways in each of your favorite clients over time. If you’re reading this, there’s a little bit (or maybe a lot) of my ideal customer in you!
two more tips
I recommend giving that person a name. It makes him or her even more real and personalized in your mind. Also, I'm lazy and a real name is way easier to say than “my ideal customer.”
You can even find a photo on Pinterest or a stock photo to represent your ideal customer. Then when you’re working on your website or any other big piece of content, post the photo where you can see it – like as your background image on your desktop – to remind you that you’re really talking to that person.
Now that we've covered who your ideal customer is, it’s time to define your position! We’ll be tackling that in my next post in this series.