ideal client

Image credit: Photofinish 2009 via Flickr

One of the foundational elements of any marketing strategy is a narrowly defined target client. For the small business I take that a step deeper to something I call the ideal, or for the sake of this post, perfect client. That one perfect kind of client is what all business should understand and I think it’s unique to each and every business.

You can’t simply define a set of demographics to find the ideal client – the ideal client finds you, but then you’ve got to build your entire business around that understanding.

The 5 steps below, applied to your current client base and worked in order, will tell you more about your true ideal client than any marketing class or book ever will.

  1. Find your most profitable clients
  2. From the above group identify those that refer
  3. From that even smaller group find common demographic characteristics
  4. Take the time now to understand the behavior that makes them ideal
  5. Draw a fully developed biographical sketch to use as your marketing guide

I explain each of these steps in great detail is this week’s column at AMEX OPENForum.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Brilliant tips. It’s just a shame that we can’t only work with perfect clients!

    • True enough Andy, but adopt this way of thinking and you can build your entire message and story around attracting more

  • I’d add that somewhere during steps 3 and 4, you need to identify characteristics of the decision makers too. Your perfect client may not always be the decision maker in closing a deal; if not, you need to be aware of that up front, and also market to how your service will benefit the DM.

    • Great point Zach, it definitely adds another layer of understanding to the mix, but it’s a big one. Sometimes it’s just getting past the gate keeper.

  • Love the five steps – good stuff!

  • Great post! I happened to just stumble upon it when I was looking for new blogs to follow this week. Strangely enough, my company OneCoach just posted a similar article on ideal client this week. I love that you pointed out that it’s more than just the demographic information of the client. You have to figure out the emotional characteristics of your ideal client as well.

    Here’s the article we posted – looks like some similarities between this and your OPENForum article… they both describe what the “ideal” part of an ideal client really means.

    “Ideal clients will cost you less in marketing.
    Ideal clients will reduce your selling time.
    Ideal clients will be a joy to work with and will be low maintenance.
    Ideal clients will stay with you longer and will buy more.
    Ideal clients will give you referrals and testimonials.”

    Thanks for the great post and reinforcing such a critical part of being a business owner.

    • Thanks Holly – love the thoughts in the bullet points – makes an even stronger case for the “why” this is such an important topic

  • I agree with this also. A great Entrepreneur once told me to figure out your ideal channel of clients and really target your market. Otherwise, you will be trying to do everything without really accomplishing anything. Creating the perfect target client will help your business succeed a lot faster than just going after anyone and everyone.


    Minesh Patel