Who is my ideal client?

Jun 7, 2024 | Marketing

“Show Notes”

This episode is sponsored by Website for photographers. Website 4
photographers help photographers get more leads from their websites. You can
get in touch here



‘Sam talks about who is your ideal client or customer. First Sam explains why you
want to an ideal customers. If you think “anyone” is your client, your messages is.
bland and doesn’t land with people and so “nobody” listens. While if you have a
specific audience in mind when you are writing your content it is much more
‘engaging and interesting for that audience.

So the first thing to do is decide who your ideal client should be. A good place to
start is to think about your current clients. Are some of those ideal clients? What
makes them ideal? Then try and find out more about them, things like age, gender
hobbies, etc. For Sam the two things that makes them ideal clients is that they are
profitable and enjoyable to work with. Marcus also points out that the target
market needs to be large enough. Marcus says at networking events he always
said | work with coaches and motivational speakers. And they are the people he
now works with and the people that gets referred to him. Sam points out that there
are 120,000 photographers in the UK on Linkedin and many more photographers,
so there are lots of them that you need to stand out from and having content
targeted to your ideal client helps with that.

There are other things to think about with ideal clients like how easy are thy to
reach an connect with. They also need to be definable. They are also a group
which you can provide value to. Marcus brings up the idea of having a tribe and
‘Sam points out that’s a big t Seth Godin’s books. Marcus says that for him
and many businesses their ideal clients are people just like them.

‘Once you have decided who your target audience is you need to clearly define
them with things like age, gender, hobbies, work, family. People then make
avatars. So invent people that could be in your target audience. Give them a
personality. Then when writing content aim it at one of your avatars. You also need

to think where are you going to find this target audience, which social channels or
print media.

Marcus says it’s clear that doing this exercise really helps you to get work.

“Show Transcription”

Marcus: Hello there, Sam. How are you doing?

Sam: Very good, Marcus. And how are you?

Marcus: Yeah, I’m good, thank you. And of course, a big hello to our listeners out there. Thanks for being part of the show, as always.

Sam: Yeah, it’s good to have you with us. Listeners, do come along and join us on the Facebook group. We’ve got a Facebook group, don’t we, Marcus?

Marcus: Yeah, it’s growing, but we could use more members. You know, the more, the merrier—that’s what they say.

Sam: The more, the merrier. Come and join us. Lots of the guests are on there, lots of photographers, loads of questions. Yeah, come and meet us. It’d be amazing to have you on there.

Marcus: So, Sam, you’ve got a subject today, which is a good one. Tell me more about it.

Sam: I will. I’m a bit worried, though, Marcus, because you’ve not said it’s close to your heart, so I’m worried it’s not as good as the usual ones. Okay, so today we’re going to talk about defining your ideal customer. This episode of Shoot to the Top is sponsored by Website for Photographers. I’m Sam Hollis from Shoot to the Top, and Website for Photographers is my business. I help photographers get more leads and, consequently, more customers from their websites. I do this through SEO and website services tailored specifically for photographers. In this business, I only work with photographers, and as you know from the podcast, I spend loads of time talking to photographers and really getting to know the photography business. So if you want more leads and more customers, get in touch with me via the Shoot to the Top website, email me at info@website4photographers.co.uk (that’s the number four), or look for more contact details in the show notes. And now, on with the show.

So, something a lot of people talk about—and I was actually thinking I was going to do a show on something totally different—is the topic of defining your ideal customer. It came up, and I thought, well, it would be much more sensible to do a show on that first. So let’s talk about your ideal customer. As people who are regulars to the show normally know, I start with the question “why.” Why do you want to define an ideal customer? What’s the point? Are you just wasting your time, and it’s kind of just faffy, faffy, woo-woo stuff? So what’s the point? For me, it’s largely about your marketing and messaging. If you think, like lots of people do, that anybody is your customer, that’s a real red flag for me. When someone says that, it means they haven’t thought it through. If you think anybody’s your customer, when you write your website, when you put out posts on LinkedIn, when you talk to people, you’re talking to everybody. And when you talk to everybody, you’re not talking to anyone specific, and so nobody listens. However, if you have an ideal client and you know that your client is a woman between the age of 35 and 50 who runs her own business, has teenage children, lives in the Cotswolds, and likes knitting, then you know exactly what to say to that person. You can have that person in your mind, and when you speak to them, you’re really thinking about what they’re interested in, what’s going to engage them, and what matters to them. Instead of speaking to everybody, and having nobody listen, you’re speaking to a really specific target audience who really understands what you’re saying.

Marcus: Quite right, Sam, quite right. I mean, it’s one of the pillars of marketing, isn’t it? Finding your ideal customer. And yet, I’ve rarely seen that being done—not just by photographers, but by loads of people.

Sam: Yeah, loads of people are saying, “So, who are you aiming at?” and they go, “Everyone,” which is impossible. You need to narrow it down; there are too many customers to cope with otherwise. So, the first thing is thinking about how you’re going to find your ideal client. Who is your ideal client going to be? My first suggestion is to think about who your current customers are. Some of them might be your ideal clients, and some of them you probably know are not. You’ve got to think about who they are, because they’re not all going to be your ideal client. In fact, for some companies, most of them are; for some companies, most of them aren’t. For some companies, you might actually be changing what you do. You might be moving from weddings to portraits, so your ideal client is changing. Every photographer we’ve had on says, “I used to do weddings and then…”

Marcus: Yeah, that’s a classic. “I started doing weddings and then discovered it wasn’t for me.”

Sam: Seems to be what happens. So, yeah, in terms of your current clients, try to find out a bit about them. This will have to be through casual conversation. I don’t think you should send out a survey asking, “How old are you?” and “What’s your gender?” But from talking to your clients, especially photographers, you spend time getting to know them, so you probably know a lot of this stuff. What’s their age? You need to know roughly, not personally, but get a rough idea. What’s their age bracket? What’s their gender? What hobbies might they have? What do they do in terms of work? Are they running their own business, are they in corporate, or are they doing something different? And then there’s lifestyle: in terms of family, how important is work to them? For some people, work is everything; for others, family is everything, and there can be lots of mixes. Social media is also important. If you know the sort of social media they use, that’s really important. You build a picture of the person with all those things and start to see who they are, what makes them tick, what they like. Look at your current customers and think about which of these are really working for you. Think, “These are who I’ve got.” Some of you will know they’re definitely not working for you, and some you’ll think really are. Then, think about your business going forward. Are these people your ideal clients? When thinking about ideal clients, consider what makes them ideal. Why are they different from other clients? For me, I think the most important things are that they are profitable and enjoyable to work with. That’s an ideal combination.

Marcus: Yeah, quite right. I think the first thing is to make sure that the market has enough of those people out there.

Sam: You are dead right, Marcus. That is definitely on my list too. After those first few years, it’s essential to make sure that when you define that target market, it’s not so tiny that there are only four people and that’s it.

Marcus: It’s a tough one, Sam. I remember when I was doing this exercise—well, it’s a constant exercise—but when I started, I worried that if I narrowed my focus, I would exclude too many potential clients. I get it; it’s tough. But the number of networking groups I’ve been in where I ask, “Who are you looking for?” and they say, “I’m not looking for anybody in particular,” it’s just a turn-off. When I did my networking, I realized that people aren’t going to remember you if you don’t stand out. So, I just put it out there: I work with coaches and motivational speakers. And lo and behold, who do I mostly work with? Coaches.

Sam: It also makes it much easier for people in a networking group to think of referrals for you. If you come along and say, “Anybody is my client,” no one will think of specific people to refer to you. But if you say, “I work with coaches,” they’ll think, “Oh, I know a few of those,” and can quickly connect you with them through LinkedIn or other networks.

Marcus: Exactly. Look, Sam, we were just talking before the show about how many photographers there are in the UK. It’s all about standing out. Give us those figures again, Sam.

Sam: So, yeah, we did a quick search on LinkedIn. We narrowed it down to photographers in the UK, and we found about 120,000 people. That’s just a fraction of the photographers in the UK. So, there’s no shortage of photographers you need to stand out from.

Marcus: Exactly right, Sam. You’ve got to nail your colors to the mast, that’s it.

Sam: And this links, doesn’t it, to our podcast on niching? It’s very similar, just a slightly different twist. It’s definitely worth a listen because it’s about narrowing down your audience and not being scared of it. As we’ve said on the niching podcast and with other guests, even if your ideal client is who you’re targeting, it doesn’t mean you can’t work with other people. If someone outside your target audience wants to work with you, you don’t have to turn them away. But focusing your messaging is key.

Marcus: Exactly, Sam. That’s exactly it, isn’t it?

Sam: Exactly. So, way back, we were talking about how to define your ideal target. We said they should be profitable and enjoyable to work with. Marcus, you also mentioned ensuring there’s a big enough market. If your target market is too small, like females with small families in your small village, you’ll run out of clients quickly. Also, consider how easy they are to reach. If your ideal client is the CEO of a large organization, it’s lovely, but are you actually going to manage to speak to them? So, think about how reachable they are, how definable they are, and if they fit with your skills.

Marcus: Exactly, Sam. And another thing I found doing this exercise is that your ideal client is actually your tribe, as they call it these days. Who do you hang out with? Who are you interested in? It might seem glib, but if you’re a photographer who does well photographing hotels, and you used to be a hotel manager, it makes sense.

Sam: Yeah, that’s a big Seth Godin thing. For those who’ve read his books, it’s about building a tribe. People like me buy from people like you.

Marcus: Exactly. There’s no point in me appealing to young kids or whatever. When starting out, a good benchmark is to look at yourself and think, “Who is like me?” You’ll often find that the people you work with are just like you.

Sam: Definitely. You can also turn that on its head and say, “Many photographers work with people like them. Who does that not include? Who could I target?” It can make life a bit harder, but it’s worth considering.

Marcus: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I chose motivational speakers and coaches because of my teaching and education background. That’s why I chose them; I can talk their language.

Sam: When I think about it, I’m reminded of the guests we’ve had on the show. A lot of the female guests have tailored their businesses around having children. That was the same for me in many ways. My business fitted around when our children were young. I moved away from teaching, and many of the female photographers did the same. They often started with newborn photography because it suited their lifestyle.

Marcus: Exactly, Sam. It’s not rocket science, but as you quite rightly said, people do relate to that.

Sam: That’s it. So, make sure you define your target audience. We’ve discussed how to work it out, so now you need to actually define them. You need to identify characteristics such as gender, age group, business side, lifestyle, family, and hobbies. These all come together to make an ideal client. From that, many people create what are called avatars. For example, you might target men between 20 and 30 who go to the gym all the time. You could invent a person named David, give him a bit of background, say he likes blue jumpers and Nike trainers, and so on. You can create two or three of these avatars. Then, when you’re marketing, recording videos, writing your website, or making posts, you can think, “This post is aimed at my avatar, Mark.” Having this person in your mind helps your content land with similar people. If you have a real customer like that, even better—you can imagine speaking to them.

Creating avatars can really help your mindset when creating content. Once you have defined your ideal customer and created avatars, tailor all your marketing to those people. Think about what they’d like, where they are, and where you can find them. For instance, if your target audience is 20 to 30-year-old women, Facebook might not be the best place. You need to fish where the fish are. If your audience is 50 to 70-year-olds who struggle with technology, TikTok isn’t ideal. Instead, consider a magazine that arrives at their doorstep.

That’s the end of my thoughts on ideal clients. Review your current clients, think about where you want to go, define your target group, and create a couple of avatars to guide your messaging.

Marcus: 100% Sam. I agree with everything you say. Get on and do it. I know from experience that you worry about losing work if you specialize, but it doesn’t work out like that. You end up getting more work.

Sam: And you move from putting out content that nobody engages with to content that a specific group of people strongly engages with because it speaks directly to them.

Marcus: Well done, Sam. A very good podcast.

Sam: Very interesting, thank you. Excellent. It was good to chat with you, Marcus. We will be back with guests next week. We usually alternate between just us and having guests, so I look forward to chatting with you and our guest next week. Speaking of guests, if you want to be on the show, go to the Shoot to the Top website at shoottothetop.com. You can find the link in the show notes. There’s a button where you can apply to be a guest. We’d love to hear from you if you think you have something to contribute. The website is also a great way to see all of our past shows. If you want to look at the one on niching or any other past shows, go to the website and take a look. They are all there.

Marcus: Next week, Sam. Bye-bye.