5 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Creating an Ideal Client Profile

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Jami Oetting
Jami Oetting



Most agencies try to be all things to all clients, even as they push their clients into defining their brand, emphasizing their points of differentiation, and developing a strong point of view. 

They know that defining who your brand is -- and more importantly -- who it is not is essential for building brand awareness and equity.

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But they often fail to do this for themselves. 

One of the steps in understanding and living your agency's positioning is to define your ideal client profile. By creating this document, you can create more targeted marketing materials, prospect for new clients in a purposeful way, and better serve the clients who are the best fit for your agency. 

However, there are a few mistakes you should carefully avoid when creating these profiles. 

1) Creating a Client Wishlist

An ideal client needs to be firmly based on your current “best” clients. You can wish that your ideal client spent $10 million on marketing per year, but unless that is truly reflective of who is actually using your services, you should leave it out.

If your positioning is strong, you should be attracting clients who fit with your specialty, services, style of delivery, cost, and culture. If you don’t have those clients yet, you may want to reconsider your services, your processes, how you market your agency, and how you hire -- all in order to bring your positioning strategy to life.

2) Limiting Your Ideal Client

It can be easy to want your ideal client to resemble an actual client -- down to the number of cats she has and how many revisions she makes on a landing page design. 

That’s not the point though. The ideal client profile should be a broad description of your ideal client base while also limiting the world from anyone who needs any type of marketing. 

The client profile should more accurately reflect the attitudes, behaviors, motivators, and preferences of a collection of individuals, rather than be a true-to-life snapshot of the one person you would like to work with.

Try starting with one profile, and as you grow and segment the business, add additional profiles. 

3) Creating Too Many Personas

Your clients are more alike than you think. They have similar problems, they are measured on the same core metrics, they makes decisions in a similar way, and they have the same objections. 

You want to be specific and detailed, but some differentiators are simply trivial. If you can’t easily name your personas and outline key details for each one, you might have invited to many people to the persona party.

4) Always Taking the Credit 

Marketing and sales is complicated. Organizations are complicated. Change is very complicated. Oftentimes, your firm will be up against some ingrained ideas and 20-year-old processes that can make it difficult to take risks, try out new things, or even just execute on simple marketing tactics. 

You can’t fix everything. Most likely the marketing and even sales enablement tools you produce for the company can only go so far, especially if the client has objections to implementing new processes or if the client's marketing and sales team are misaligned.

When creating your ideal client profile, be sure to identify only the specific pain points that your firm solve's for. These should be targeted solutions that prove the high value of your firm.

5) Relying on Your Team to Define Your Ideal Client

You new business reps, account managers, strategists, and consultants are taking to your clients every day, so they must know them the best. You interview your team, and use these anecdotal stories to create your ideal client profile.

While you should talk with your team and gather insight from them, you also need to mine the data and conduct formal interviews with current and past clients to understand what their buying process looked like. People can become biased over time, and by simply asking your team for information, you are including perceptions formed during a relationship in your profile.

You can collect some of this information through landing page forms and onboarding documents, which could help cut down on the amount of time needed to conduct the interviews.

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