Imagine being able to make your clients feel like you’re reading their minds, convince them you’re the answer to their problems and completely sweep them off their feet. Well, it’s possible if you take the time to really get to know them and what makes them tick.
In the same way that we go on romantic dates or coffee dates to get to know people in our lives, we should be dating our clients in order to know and serve them better. I’m not talking about being romantic, I’m talking about building a relationship.
One of the biggest struggles for most business owners (myself included) is finding a way to stick out from the competition and attract people we’d love working for.
A lot of us come up with products or services and then go out and try to find customers to buy them. Really, that’s backwards. We should be studying the needs of our clients and then tailoring our products or services to meet those needs. And I don’t want to just solve a problem for my clients. I want to sweep them off their feet! That means tapping into their heart desires in addition to their struggles.
I’m not a fan of guessing what my clients really need and want, and you shouldn’t be, either. That’s where dating your clients comes in.
So how do you go about this? Well one of the best ways to go about dating your clients is to literally do exactly that! Think of someone that you either absolutely loved working for or that you would love to work for in the future. Then ask them out for coffee!
Make it clear that you’re not pitching anything. You just want to chat and get to know them. Ask them about their experiences with your product or service and what they would love to see or experience.
So if you’re a wedding photographer, you might take a newly engaged bride out to coffee and ask her about her thought processes choosing a photographer.
But don’t just stick to your specific industry. Ask about her hopes and dreams in general regarding her wedding day. How does she want to feel? What does her perfect day look like? What does she absolutely NOT want her day to look like? What are some of her frustrations? Sometimes the best way to figure out what people want is to ask them what they don’t want! Take excellent notes during your chat. And don’t forget to thank her when you’re done! A sweet thank you gift might even be a great idea.
Thanks to the Internet, social media also provides a wealth of information regarding potential dream clients that’s completely free for the taking if you just pay attention. If you yourself are active on social media, notice the people that are following you. If they seem like great potential clients, follow them back!
You might also consider joining Facebook groups, Twitter chats, or online forums that have lots of potential clients. Then take note of the frustrations that people express, as well as what they say when they’re really happy or really excited about something. Make sure you start tracking that information somewhere.
I have an Evernote folder labeled “Dream Client” and I’ll regularly take screenshots that I think might be useful and store them in there. For instance, I was in a Twitter chat recently where the host asked, “What is your biggest frustration regarding your personal brand?” You better believe I screenshot many of those answers and put them into the folder. At the same time, if someone in a group posts a quote and tons of my dream clients like it, I take note of that as well.
And finally, another great way to get information is a good old-fashioned survey. If you already have a strong social media following or mailing list, you might consider creating one and emailing it out or posting the link somewhere like your Instagram.
When crafting your survey, try to write questions that tap into the values of your client. For instance, don’t ask, “How much would you be willing to pay for a photography session?” Instead, ask something like, “What would you do if you were given a million dollars?” or “How would you invest in your business if someone gave you a loan right now?”
Try to get the heart of their desires. You can then craft your services to appeal to those desires down the line. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as survey writing goes, and I’m not going to get into it too deeply in this post, but I wanted to get your wheels turning.
As I already mentioned, most business owners come up with a product or service, and then go out looking for people to buy. This is actually backwards, as we should be looking for problems that our ideal client needs solved, and then creating a product or service that solves those problems. Instead of guessing what clients want, tap into your knowledge of frustrations that they have and either emphasize how what you offer relieves those frustrations, or tailor your services to do so.
Going back to the wedding photographer example, maybe during the coffee date you had with a newly engaged potential dream client she expressed numerous times that she feels overwhelmed and paralyzed by all the decisions she has to make. Look at your business process and the things you do to make your bride’s life easier, and make sure to highlight and emphasize those things in the way that you talk to potential clients and the collateral that you put out. Even better, what could you do to make your process even more stress-free? Those little touches will make a big difference.
Then again, maybe the lovely bride-to-be had a very specific creative vision and was more concerned that her photographer captures all the details she has in mind. In that case, you would tailor your services in a different way. That is why it is so important to have a specific dream client in mind when you do your research.
Want to make your clients feel like you’re reading their mind? The key is to repeat their language back to them. As professionals, it can be easy to slip into jargon or common buzz words going around our industry. One way to combat this is to go back to your notes and use real language from your clients.
Copywriters refer to this as a “copy bank,” a list of words or phrases that your target market used word for word. How do they describe what you do? What phrases do they use when talking about frustrations? Happiness? Work those into your copy! If you can describe your client’s problem the most clearly, they are likely to think you have the best solution as well. The key is to tell a story. Instead of focusing on the features of your product or service, tell a story about how your client will feel when she works with you.
And finally, dating your clients is a good way to come up with new blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, etc. These days marketing often requires putting out content on a continual business. It’s easy to feel tapped out of creative juices!
However, if we’re in tune with our clients it becomes a lot easier to create content just for them. Is there a common problem that comes up when talking to potential clients? Has someone asked you for advice on something? What do you already know that they could find useful? Not only will tailored content be more attractive to your ideal client, it will probably be a lot easier to promote on your end. After all, you created something to help them!
I honestly feel like the most important thing you can do for your business is to get to know your clients as well as possible. Everything else tends to fall into place after that. Now go forth, date, and become a dream client magnet!
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