Identifying your hot and buying ideal client is the fast path to design success. You can stop spinning your wheels trying to be all things to everyone and focus on those clients you enjoy the most. And they’ll give you great projects that empower you to deliver the transformation that only you can.
Clarity on your ideal client will show you exactly where to find them and what messaging to include in your marketing online and offline to attract and connect with them. In addition, you’ll be able to identify other businesses that also serve your ideal client but don’t compete with you, giving you some powerful referral partners, or as I like to say, your Profit Posse.
Often your ideal clients will look a lot like you. For example, many of my ideal clients have been single professional females, also known as SINKs — single income, no kids. I’m also single and have no kids. We intuitively relate well to one another. And without the investment in children, they have more disposable income for design. DINKs are also a lucrative client category as dual income, no kids.
I have a designer I coach in Mallorca, Spain, she is an expat Brit, married with two young adult children, and many of her clients are also expat Brits, married with grown children. They relate well and work well together. Often your best clients will appear when you look in the mirror.
If you’ve been in business for a couple of years or much longer, you can review your favorite clients and build your ideal client profile based on what you uncover. You may be surprised to find that they’ll often have a lot in common with you, including marital status, age, entrepreneurial vs. corporate, politics and even religion. Craft a maximum of three ideal client profiles, also known as avatars, not 23 or 53. Keep them in a maximum 15-year age range, so you can target and message more effectively. Instead of 30-60, think 40-55 or 30-45.
The 80/20 Rule
Before I identified my ideal clients, I was on the fast path to burnout. I was juggling 40 clients with the help of a design assistant and part-time intern. Eighty percent of my revenues were coming from just 20 percent of my clients, my ideal eight. The rest were much smaller projects that often ran me around, nickel and dimed me, or were just poor fits. My favorites were all millionaires-next-door, entrepreneurs in business, with families and often multiple homes.
Once I made this discovery, I spent the next year wrapping up all the little projects and focusing exclusively on my ideal clients. My revenues still doubled because I was no longer leaving money on the table, distracted by all the smaller projects. At the same time, my workload dropped from 70-plus hours a week to a far more normal 50. I took a five-week vacation to Australia and New Zealand; it was heaven.
You do not need more clients; you want the right clients for you. And building your design practice strategically, with your ideal clients, instead of saying yes to everyone, will put you on the fast path to more profit in less time with a lot less stress.
Let’s say your ideal client is a busy mom of three and you happen to also be a busy mom. Think about the places you go every day and each week where you can meet more moms. The designers I work with who are also busy moms have met great clients at the soccer field on Saturday or the swim meet on Tuesday. They’ve connected through being a room mom, PTA or a mom’s day out.
Remember, design isn’t just what we do; it’s an integral part of who we are. And we’re incredibly fortunate to be able to meet clients in the course of our lives. This is a nudge to design your life the way you most want it, so you meet the clients you’ll enjoy the most.
If you prefer clients who are corporate executive relocations, explore the major corporations in your city. They all have a relocation specialist or department that facilitates the moves of their top executives. Often these departments have resource lists you can get on to be provided to executives relocating to your area. There are Realtors who also specialize in executive relocation and they can become referral partners for you if this is your ideal client.
Imagine how much more effective your website would be if you said, on your home page, "We specialize in family friendly luxury for the executive family recently relocated, or you've got your hands full raising a family. We take your interior design off your plate and create a welcoming place to call home.”
POW! Your ideal client just saw themselves called out specifically and immediately felt at home. You stood out, unlike the thousands of beautiful designer sites that make no mention of an ideal client and are trying to cast a wide net instead of a narrow one. Your riches are in your niches.
Stay tuned for next month’s article with more strategies to identify, define and attract your ideal client, so you can earn more in less time with a lot less stress.
Melissa is an interior design business coach and author of Marketing Luxury Design; Attracting Affluent Clients. Learn more at www.melissagalt.com.