Who is your ideal client?

Who is your ideal client?
31 Aug 2020

Finding the right client is kind of like trying to find your ideal life partner. When you are young and single, dating is a bit like “open season” where you date different types of people in order to find your ideal long term “right fit”. Your perfect partner. Inevitably (and after some time) you realise that you need to narrow down the playing field. You begin to understand that you need to admit what is right for you and what is a deal breaker. You acknowledge that you need to be honest with yourself about who you are – you simply cannot be everything to everyone. You cannot please everyone. In doing so, you are not being true to yourself. And that is not fair to yourself or to your potential relationships. And that is quite an eye opening process.

Finding your perfect client (your “Right Client”), is actually the exact the same process.

Importantly, and when trying to find the Right Client, you cannot be a people pleaser. This is not a dating scenario and is by no means, “open season”. According to Kelsey Raymond in an article titled 8 Rules for Finding the Right Customer (and Saying No to the Wrong One!), you cannot be the person who ”hates the idea of saying “no” or, heaven forbid, letting someone down” or a company which says “Any work is better than no work, right?”

The problem, according to Kelsey, in trying to be everything to everyone is that “companies inevitably fail because when they say yes to every request, they end up watering down their core competencies to the point where they can’t differentiate themselves.”

Finding your ideal life partner, and in this particular instance, your perfect client, comes down to narrowing down the playing field. Saying no to certain business. Saying no to certain work. Saying not to certain clients. And that can be a very scary thing. According to Richard James in an article titled Identifying Your Law Firm’s Ideal Client—Exercises to Try –

“As a lawyer, you simply can’t be all things to all people, and the attorneys who try to do so will eventually crash and burn. Your key to success is not to have as many clients as possible, but to find and win the right clients—and doing so begins with identifying the ideal client for your law firm”.

And the glaring commonality between both of the aforementioned articles is the following – by saying yes to every client, by taking on all work, by watering down your service offerings, your practice will inevitably fail.

So the burning question here is – how do you go about avoiding the failure of your practice?

Firstly, what is the “perfect client”?

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According to Rachel Watt in an article titled Getting The Right Client For Your Business, to find the answer to the question, “who is my perfect client” you need to ask yourself some other important questions such as – “who is your ideal or dream customer?” and “who is my best client…the client that if I have ten more just like them, life would be great.” Rachel says that you need to stop and understand what about those clients makes them amazing. What about them makes you want to work with them? If you can answer these questions “you’re well on your way to identifying who you should be targeting”.

And that makes perfect sense, right? Finding your perfect client comes down to who you most want to target in the work that you do and who you most want to work with.

Narrowing down the playing field

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It is a very transitional moment for any business to honestly admit who their perfect client is.

Just like admitting which aspects of a person are important to you and which aspects are deal breakers in your personal relationships, you need to undertake the same process when admitting who your perfect client is for your business. And you need to undertake this evaluation honestly. Because every legal practice has their own “perfect client” – their “Right Client”. Remember, your business is not a “one size fits all” solution. There are certain people who will absolutely love your firm and will rave about it until the cows come home. And others will simply not get it. They will not see the point or value in what you are offering.

And it is quite easy to discover. Really. Start evaluating your client base by asking the following important questions –

  • What does your ideal client do for a living?
  • What do they do in their spare time?
  • What is their age/income bracket?
  • Do they have children?
  • Why do they need your services?
  • Why do you enjoy working with them?

According to an article titled Seven Ways To Identify Your Ideal Client, narrowing down your client focus can lead to arguments that it “narrows your market and the number of suitable clients”. However, the article goes on to say that narrowing down your client base actually enables you to appeal to an audience that truly values what you do. And the more you know who your ideal client is, the easier it will be for you to create content that speaks directly to them. In that way –

“You become magnetic. When a potential client feels like you “get them,” your offer becomes so much more appealing”.

So, by asking these questions you will begin to have a clearer picture of who your ideal client is so that you can focus your energies on getting those types of clients more often going forward.

And that is really the point.

But what does this process entail?

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According to the article, Identifying Your Law Firm’s Ideal Client—Exercises to Try, this process entails the following –

“Take Inventory of Your Current Clients

Start by looking one by one at your current client base and look at their most positive characteristics. Which ones pay the most? Which pay most consistently? Which of your services do they use the most? Which do you most enjoy working with, and why? You should begin to see some common threads emerge among your most profitable and productive clients. Look for more people like these.

Evaluate Your Own Services

One of the easier ways to find your ideal client is to figure out whom would most benefit from your expertise as a lawyer. Take a look at the legal services you currently offer, and/or the services you’d most like to offer. Try to envision who needs these services most and why—as well as who can afford you. Create a demographic profile for these people (e.g., gender, age group, income level, profession, etc.), and look for ways to market to them.

Create a “Velvet Rope”

In his popular book Book Yourself Solid, author/coach Michael Port recommends establishing a “red velvet rope policy” by which you become more selective with your clients. He recommends identifying your best clients based not so much on their need or their income, but on how well you enjoy working with them. Identify the clients you love and why you love them; also identify the ones that have less “star quality” in your mind and why. Then have the courage to drop your “dud clients” to make room for more of the ideal ones. The takeaway is that you actually do your best work when you enjoy the people you work with!”.

Whilst the above exercise will not guarantee that all your clients will be “ideal clients”, it will narrow down your playing field by guiding your strategy to attracting more of the right type of client for your business. And you will inevitably find yourself working with people you actually want to work with. Living your best life!

Putting the above into practice

Putting the above process into action is illustrated by a method used by Liad Hadar director of the property law firm Hadar Incorporated, aptly named the “Quadrant”. The Quadrant’s pillars are applied to assess the ongoing (and active) value of a client by considering not only the quality of the work undertaken but also aspects such as respect (can you work with them?) and whether or not a client is a good payer. To be considered the “Right Client”, all four considerations should be in the affirmative for the Quadrant to be effective. Using these simple pillars will ensure that your firm is a modern and innovative law firm ready to ask the difficult questions in order to attract (and retain) the “Right Client” by focusing on both the client’s as well as the firm’s needs.

The Quadrant –

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Remember that if you try to serve everyone, you will end up serving no one. There are people out there who genuinely need and value what you offer and are ready to engage with you. Whilst identifying your ideal client can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, it is an important step in growing and improving your business. And the process is actually not overly complicated. If you follow the process above (applying methods like the Quadrant) and asking the questions that need to be asked, you are well on your way to not only reaching new clients—but reaching the right ones too.

But if you are stuck in a “bad relationship” and have no idea how to send out your “Dear John” letter, we have steps that you can undertake that won’t burn your bridges. Look out for our next article – “How to break up with a client” (coming soon).

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Alicia Koch
Alicia Koch

Alicia Koch is an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE. She has worked in law firms, has had her own legal consulting company and has been an in-house legal...

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