I know the title of this post might raise some eyebrows, but it’s true – most businesses have the exact clients they’ve chosen.

photo credit: LexnGer via photopin cc

photo credit: LexnGer via photopin cc

Now, you may not exactly love the clients you’ve attracted, but that’s because you don’t realize the power you wield when it comes to “choosing” your clients. Far too many business owners feel powerless in this regard and subject themselves to serving “anyone with money” or worse “anyone they hope will pay.”

I recently asked a group of business owners to tell me some of the attributes of their ideal clients. After we got through the requisite “they have money” and “they aren’t a pain to work with,” we wandered into some much deeper and meaningful territory.

This was a group of dance and music studio owners and for many the most important attributes had to do with mindset and behavior – “They ask lots of detailed questions” and “they see art, music and dance as ways to support healthy children.”

Wow, all of a sudden we had stumbled upon something extremely valuable. See, while all agreed that the real benefits of their service were self-esteem, wellness and better study habits, few did anything to promote and amplify those messages.

Eventually, they discovered that in their ideal clients, this was the common thread and yet, they feared that if they led primarily with the mantra of “healthy children through art,” they would turn away the “let’s put Sally in every possible competition” people.

And, of course, I had to remind them, that’s precisely the point.

While the “let’s put Sally in every possible competition” people did indeed have the money, they were hard on the staff, frequently disruptive and gone as fast as they came.

The real message here is that in order to build a business that truly can thrive you must understand who you are equipped to serve best and you must do everything in your power to attract, serve and choose them over all else.

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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.
  • This whole premise of “I Choose” who I work with” is a MASSIVE lesson that when absorbed and adhered to, can completely shift the pleasure a business owner experiences day to day in their company.

    When you let it be known through story telling in your content – speeches, audios, articles, etc. – that you are highly selective about who gets to work with you and you talk about who should and shouldn’t be showing up on your door step, you will be surprised at how clients who are “badly behaved” with other business owners, are on their best behavior for you, or how they don’t show up at all in the first place, leaving you with only people who meet your criteria for being a kick butt customer/client.

    Gary Halbert’s world famous personal ad is a classic example of letting it be known who should and who shouldn’t be responding to his ad, that I believe any marketer would be wise to have on hand to hammer this lesson home.

    In his ad he was vividly explicit in what he wanted, and what he didn’t want in a partner. This is SO IMPORTANT. Too many people attract the wrong customers and clients to themselves because they use broad and vague terminology as opposed to specific and crystal clear descriptions as to what they provide, who it best serves and who you will and won’t work with.

    I thank you John for reminding me of this oh-so important lesson I can’t be reminded of often enough. 🙂

    • Awesome addition to this idea – and you’re right it’s hard for people to absorb this lesson – here’s a link to that ad you mention – it’s a hoot to read as well as being informative – http://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com/newsletters/2009/Gary_Halbert_Personal_Ad/Gary_Halbert_Personal_Ad.pdf

      • Hahaha! Yes, it is indeed a hoot! And thank you so much John for sharing the link.

        “7 Things Gary Does Not Want From A Woman” – CLASSIC!

        As someone who greatly admires the ability to persuade in print or pixel, I plan on getting a copy of the original ad as it ran in L.A. Weekly, the one where his picture is in the ad, and having it framed and posted on the wall in my office to serve as a psychological trigger that consistently reminds me of the importance of teaching my audience what behavior is and isn’t acceptable in my world and to be humble and have fun while doing so. 🙂

  • Agreed. We are growing because we (a) set reasonable expectations and (b) choose carefully who we work with, and (c) run through walls for potential mutual fits.

  • Hey John,

    Thanks for a great post with perfect timing and topic. My girlfriend has a dance studio and while most of the clients are ideal, the ones who aren’t can be a huge drain on energy and resources. We’re working to overcome that with the right content, just as you prescribed, and I look forward to sharing this piece with her (and other small business owners).

    Cheers — Hunter

  • AlanNHaden

    sToo many people attract the wrong customers and clients to themsselves because sthey use broad and vague terminology as opposed to sspecific and crystsal clear descriptions as to what they provide, whso it best serves and who you will and won’t wsork with..http://num.to/81-53-42-74-25-82

  • Wuyen Hsu

    This is so true. So many of us fell into the tail chasing cycle of finding a customer that doesn’t fit into your business and making up for the wasted time and effort by finding even more non-fit client.

    The customer has the right to pick who to hire, but the business owner has the right to pick who to do business with, too.
    In the pass, I’ve worked with several clients who doesn’t honor your time, demand high quality service but find excuse for paying, ask you to reply ASAP and never get back to you on their end. By the time you finally satisfied their never-ending requests, you are out of budget, in a terrible mood, and they still bad mouth to everyone they run into.
    I remember Seth Godin saying, if you fire 50% of your customer, you’ll end up making more money. Instead of looking it as pushing customer out of the door, I believe it’s the act of reducing the barrier to deliver your best work to customer who honors it.

  • I had to agree, Customers occupies large part on business progress, They are the fuel, the reshape’r the main character on our campaign. That’s why it’s important to give attention in choosing the prospect because if not, it’s like barking in the wrong tree dreaming to increase ROI with the reality of failing.

  • Unless you’re running the only grocery store in the area, you can’t afford to have anybody and everybody as your customers. It would be good if you can, but not if you’re a specialized business that offers specialized services. Excellent article.