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Your Ideal Client -- How to identify who is--and more importantly, who isn't!
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure
is trying to please everybody."--Bill Cosby
Have you ever had clients that were more trouble than they were worth? Maybe they
were always late to pay, or didn't do what they said they'd do. Maybe you just had a
personality clash, or they expected more than you were able to offer. Whatever the
situation, chances are you had an inkling when you first met that client...a tiny voice
that you didn't listen to, that was probably overshadowed by the bigger voice that
said, "Hey, it's business; I'll take it!"

Drawing The Line
Learn to say no to those clients, before they start draining your energy! The key to
being able to do this is to understand Your Ideal Client. Once you know how to
recognize who is ideal and who is not, you can practice turning down business from
the latter. If you have trouble saying no, you'll need to learn this critical business
skill, and what to do to get rid of problem clients you already have; see the
resources at the bottom of this article. If you have a coach, ask them to help you
complete the Ideal Client exercise, or to role-play those "saying no" conversations.

How to discover YOUR Ideal Client
There are many ways to approach the Ideal Client/Customer Profile. You can sit
down and imagine the best, most wonderful client you could have--whether that is
an abstract entity, a celebrity (what writer wouldn't want Oprah as a customer, for
example), or a specific demographic profile. If your customers are more likely to be
companies, you could look at your current client list, and pick the company that
gives you the most business, the most joy, the least heartburn.

The Ideal Client Profile
Whoever you pick, start a profile matrix with two columns: "My Ideal Client Is:" on
the left; "My Ideal Client is Not:", on the right. In the column on the left, list all the
characteristics of that type of person or company. Use the questions below as
prompts to get you thinking about all the different aspects of each client.

Then, either think of the opposite of all those aspects, or pick the "client from hell"
and fill in corresponding traits in the right-hand column. Be really honest with this
exercise! If you'd rather only have clients who make over $500,000, put that down!
Your clients who don't fit your Ideal characteristics, whether you write them down or
not, will eventually know it. May as well get that over with early!

Prompts: Consider these aspects of your Ideal Customer or Client:
? What career or business are they in?
? What demographics do they fit? (age, sex, race, religion, income, marital
status, etc.)
? What do they think is important in business? In life?
? What do they like most about you and your business, products and services?
? What is the nature of their relationship with you? (transactional, long-time
customer, acquaintance, friend, refers others to you, etc.)
? How do they do business with you? (by phone, in person, on the Web; quick
transactions, takes time to negotiate; pays early, on-time, at 30 days; etc.)
? What personality characteristics do they have?
? What do you get from them (besides payment)?

Now What?
Compare your current client list to the two columns in The Ideal Client Profile. How
many have the characteristics of your Ideal Client? If the answer is "not many," you
may need to work on firing some of your clients! Check out some resources below on
how to do this.

Next, post your Ideal Client Profile somewhere you will see it often. Every time a new
potential client comes along, start looking for those Ideal characteristics...and
beware the non-ideal! If that little voice starts to tell you something might be wrong,
check in with the non-ideal list--and be ready with some ways to turn away non-ideal
clients. Offer them other options--refer them to someone else who is a better fit, and
make two people happier!

Ideal Clients--For Life
There are many ways to leverage the work you have just done with the Ideal Client
Profile. Here are some ideas:
? Audit your marketing materials. Do your business cards, brochures, ads and
website appeal to your Ideal Client? Are you sending the right message, to
the right potential clients? Hone your materials, and start seeing better-
qualified potential clients walk in the door.
? Consider your marketing channels. Based on your Ideal Client profile, where
would you expect to find these clients? Is that where your marketing efforts
are focused? If not, figure out a way to get in front of them!
? Review your contracts, policies, terms and conditions. Are they set up to be
friendly to your Ideal Clients? Do they give you clear avenues for dealing with
non-ideal clients? If not, update them, and you might see non-ideal clients
take care of themselves.
Start attracting your Ideal Clients today!

This article was submitted by - Terri Zwierzynski Please Rate/Review this Article - Recommend it to friends

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