Marketing to Your Ideal Client
In part one of this series, we identified our ideal client and put ourselves in their shoes to evaluate our brand and marketing message. If you felt there was a disconnect between your message and the client you are trying to attract, do not despair! You do not necessarily need to rebrand completely. Sometimes adjusting the messaging on your website or your social media strategy is all it takes to start reaching those ideal clients.
Adjusting Your Marketing Message
Let’s return to my wedding planning business as an example. I was reaching people I loved working with, but whose budgets were too small to sustain my business. I was close, but not quite there regarding identifying my ideal client. Before the rebrand, I talked a lot about DIY wedding planning tips and tricks. I loved my clever DIY-enthusiast clients, but blogging about DIY Weddings sends a very specific message that says “low-budget” and “kitschy,” regardless of how expensive or on-trend the actual DIY projects were.
I had to refocus my message to start reaching clients who had the values of my DIY couples, but larger wedding budgets. I now talk about planning weddings that capture the unique aesthetic and values of my clients. Notice how this does not exclude those awesome, crafty, DIY couples, but it does shift the conversation away from “budget weddings.”
What I realized I loved about my DIY couples was how much heart and soul they poured into every element of their weddings. I also realized there are people who feel the same but loathe the idea of picking up a glue gun. Those were the people I wanted to find.
Aligning your Values
Do you have a mission statement or values statement for your brand? Most people don’t, but it can be a useful exercise when defining your ideal client. Write a manifesto for your company. Simple, “I” or “we believe” statements. These values and beliefs will hopefully align with the views of your ideal clients. For example, if you believe firmly in sourcing local flowers, your ideal clients will likely be people who value sustainability, reducing their carbon footprint or minimizing waste. By mentioning your intention to source locally when possible, you are speaking to your ideal client.
Maybe one of your values is to create, one-of-a-kind, fine-art inspired floral installations. Stating this value in your website copy or social media will send future clients the message that when they work with you, they can expect more than a rehash of the current Pinterest trends. It also carries a subtext that indicates your service is high-end with an air of exclusivity.
Take this mission statement for your company and identify key brand values that you can begin to weave throughout your website, blog, and social media. By regularly referring back to those brand values and the message that your ideal client responds to, you will reach them more effectively. You will also build trust and report with them before they even get in touch.
Logos, design elements, and photography also send messages to your future clients. Think about what media and visual styles your ideal client would respond to. Do the visual elements of your brand align with your voice? Or maybe we need to step back. Is your brand consistent to begin with?
It is helpful to create guidelines for your brand to define your logo, colors, fonts, and other stylistic elements. Your brand’s voice and vibe are also essential to establish in this exercise. The whole of your brand is made up of all of these elements working together.
The visual elements are your chance at a first impression. Before they read anything you have to say, they have to like what they see. Your graphic design, photography, and website need to resonate with that ideal client. That said, if you are not a graphic designer yourself, this can be the most expensive portion of your branding and can take some real time and investment to update or change entirely. A great place to start if you want to test out visual branding strategies is Instagram. By curating your feed to highlight a specific vibe or style, you can “try on” a new brand without any real investment.
If you feel that your current portfolio of work does not align with your ideal client, plan a styled photoshoot! I have designed several styled shoots with the express intent of aligning visually with my brands, down to the colors used and the inspiration chosen. By doing a styled shoot or some portfolio building projects, even as an established professional, you can guide your brand visuals in the direction you want. This frees you to do something beyond where the whims of clients and trends take you while also providing you with on-brand visuals to use in marketing materials.
Bringing it all Together
Your brand and messaging, when intentional and well targeted, can help you build trust with future clients and lead to higher booking rates. It might seem counterintuitive to niche down and target a more narrowly defined ideal client, but it leads to better-qualified inquiries which are genuinely excited to work with you. Your ideal client isn’t going to be grilling you on price or asking you to design work outside of your style and aesthetic. They are going to be your biggest fans, and they will refer you to their friends, who likely also be your ideal clients!
Identifying or redefining your ideal clients can be done at any stage in your business journey, especially if you feel your recent inquiries and projects have taken you in a direction you do not believe matches your brand, values, or aesthetic. The issue may be that you are not connecting with your ideal client. Begin by identifying your ideal client, create a list of brand values, adjust your messaging, evaluate your visual branding elements such as logos and photography, and tailor your portfolio to include work that appeals to your ideal client.
Working through these suggestions will help you to better connect with the people and projects that best align with your brand. You will improve your booking rate and a move your business in a more sustainable, satisfying direction!