Know Your Ideal Client

Whether your business is purely online, or you are a traditional provider of products or services, it is vital to know what your ideal client looks like.



Marketing is cheaper, easier and more successful when you target a small and clearly defined group of customers. One of the goals of marketing should be to make your customers feel like your message was designed just for them. The broader the group you target, the harder it is to achieve this goal.

Provides Focus for Startups

Put simply, if you can’t convince your ideal client to buy from you, it’s unlikely you’ll convince anyone else. As most startups only need a small number of customers to make the start they need, it’s better to aim narrow and win some business then expand from there, rather than aim wide but impress nobody.

Referred Business

Giving the people around you a clear description of your ideal client greatly increases the chances of receiving referred business. Simply telling people what you do forces them to do too much mental work to match you up with potential clients and (to be perfectly blunt) they have better things to do with their time. Make it so easy for them to identify an ideal client and it will happen even without them trying.


Let’s face it, most people don’t love attending networking events. The standard opening of “so, what do you do?” gets tired after about the tenth introduction of the night, and will lead to some boring responses.

To make the conversations more interesting for both you and the other person, if you’re asked this question trying this: instead of answering with your regular description of your role, answer in a way that is more about how you help your clients (specifically your ideal clients) to solve a problem. This will almost certainly lead to a more interesting conversation for both of you.

Similarly, instead of asking other people what they do, try asking who their ideal client is. It will likely make them stop and think, and generate a more interesting and thoughtful response than the old “what do you do?” question. If they find the question interesting, it’ll give you the opportunity to talk about why it is such an important question which in itself is an interesting conversation. This is sure to make the night a little more fun, and given the discussion about about referred business, is likely to lead to more leads than just talking about yourself.


Asking interesting questions of others is good, but actually caring about the response is even better. And following up on that information after the event is better again.

If someone does a good description of their ideal client and you decide later that you’d like to help this person, you have a much better idea of how to identify potential leads for them. And if you do this enough, thanks to the social convention of “reciprocity” (see link below), it’s likely that you’ll get some business coming back your way in the future.


have a very clear picture in your mind of what your ideal client looks like; focus on impressing this group before expanding into a wider target market; tell the people around you what your ideal client looks like to make it easy for them to identify leads for you; ask other people what their ideal client looks like; and look for opportunities to match other people with their ideal clients where it makes sense.

Further reading

Wikipedia: Reciprocity

10 Simple Ways to Be More Likable