Ever felt like you’re chasing unicorns? When it comes to finding your ideal client online, it can certainly feel that way.

By now, you’ve probably come across the idea of an ideal client before. Maybe you’ve given some thought to who that ideal client is for you, or taken the time to create an ideal client profile. Maybe you’ve even given her a name. And yet, something isn’t quite lining up.

So you start to wonder: does this ideal client even really exist? Before you can answer that, there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself.

AM I GOING DEEP ENOUGH?

Sure, you know your ideal client’s ideal honeymoon spot and favourite dessert, but how well do you really understand her? Do you know her values, mindset, feelings and thoughts? Superficial doesn’t cut it! These elements are great for adding colour to the ideal client avatar and bringing it to life, but they’re useless if you don’t dig deep into what drives purchasing decisions. What really matters to your client? Which problems do they need to solve? How will YOU add value to their life?

ARE MY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MY IDEAL CLIENT CORRECT?

Here’s the problem. Many business owners who complete an ideal client exercise tend to base them on some version of themselves. And that brings with it a set of unconscious biases and assumptions. Defining your ideal client by what you already know or believe to be true is a great starting point, but it needs data to back it up. In order to find out if you really are chasing a unicorn, you need to validate your ideal client profile. But how?

3 WAYS TO VALIDATE YOUR IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE

1 Interview your real clients

The first method, if you have an existing audience of past or current clients, is pretty straightforward. ASK THEM! You have a brilliant untapped resource at your disposal – you only have to ask. Interviews are a great way of getting the kind of in-depth responses you want.

Even if you don’t have a robust contact list easily to hand, look for groups, clubs, and forums where your ideal client hangs out. See if you can spot your unicorn ‘in the wild’!

Then – and here’s the part most people avoid – reach out directly for a chat. Yes, it can be a little uncomfortable, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the difference between being good and great. Challenge yourself to make the connection and you’ll be surprised how much easier it is than you think.

Another great tip is to have a pre-prepared list of questions to help you keep the call or conversation on track. These should help you understand more about your interviewee, and how they might use your product or service. Keep questions open-ended and really listen, making notes not just of what they say but how they say it.

2 Survey your audience

If you have an online profile, then the chances are that some of your ideal clients are already hanging out in that space, be it Instagram, Facebook, a blog, or an email list.

Create an online poll or survey to validate your ideal client profile and check that what you already ‘know’ about them is true. Ask specific questions about who they are, what they do, and what help they need from you.

Not only will this help you understand whether your ideal client really exists within your audience, it might also give you an insight about those you are already reaching but haven’t thought of. Perhaps your real ideal client is hiding in plain sight!

As a rule, keep your questions short and to the point. Checkboxes and yes/no questions tend to work better than open-ended questions for a survey.

3 Cross-reference your audience

Do you have an idea of where your ideal client might be hanging out, but aren’t quite sure?

A useful exercise is to make a list of your target publications and blogs and request their media kits. Within these documents, you will find information about their audience. You can then use this to cross-reference against your ideal client profile.

You can do this with more than magazines and blogs. What about other brands, or events your clients may be attending? Facebook ads are another useful way to test your assumptions against clearly defined demographics.

And there you have it! Three ways to find out if your ideal client really exists! Ideally, I’d recommend that you use all three methods, as each will give you a different insight. The more information you have, the better you will be able to validate your ideal client profile.

I’d love to hear if you try this approach, and what you lean about your ideal client! Leave a comment on the Facebook group, or email me at [email protected]!

Top image: Hannah Duffy