Discovering your Ideal Client


When I first started out as an online marketing consultant in Bend, Oregon, I was "taking all the clients." My marketing friends will know exactly what I'm talking about here.

To set the scene, I was let go from my dream job and I was feeling maybe I was not good at marketing. My confidence was super low and I spent a good week thinking maybe being a barista at Starbucks was the best option for me (nothing wrong with this, btw, when I retire, I think this is what I'd like to do with my time). When I expressed this to friends and colleagues they called me on this craziness and several gave me work, leads, confidence and encouragement to look past this and start digital marketing consulting. So, I started taking "all the work." And then a few months later, I came to the realization this may have been a big mistake.

When I share this story with my fellow marketing peeps, it seems this is how most of us start out. We take everyone and soon discover our personalities isn't suited for everyone. It's similar to dating ... you find out what you don't like about your significant other and over time, you meet the perfect guy/gal and you get married.

Enter Marie Forleo and B School. B School was a tipping point for me. Having had some success with an Amazon course I'd taken the previous year, B School seemed like the professional development course I needed to set me up for business success and right on the path to success. And it did lead to awesome things like hiring Sue B. Zimmerman as my business coach and meeting other online marketing strategists and entrepreneurs across the country.

One of the first things Marie teaches is the process of figuring who you should be working with using a series of questions. You'll answer these questions yourself and then you'll have those who you feel are your ideal client answer them via a survey or face-to-face.

The series of questions also determine pain points which help with messaging to those folks and often times where you'll spend your time marketing to customers.

In my coaching sessions, this is often where we start. You won't have this nailed down in a month. The process took me three months and guess what, I ended up redoing the process about 9 months later.

What do you need to do? You will need to answer a series of questions AND then have those feel who are your idea clients answer those questions.

This process involves giving your ideal customer a name too. Here are some sample questions:



Marital Status/children (include Names):

Where they live:

Annual Income:

Values & Beliefs:


Favorite Books, Music, Tv Shows, Blog or Podcasts:

Favorite Authors, Speakers, Teachers, Experts

What conferences or events do they go to?:

Free time activities or hobbies:

Guilty Pleasures?

Heros or Idols?

Favorite brands?

Answer these as if you were your ideal client:

What keeps you up at night when it comes to [insert the service you offer]?

What are your stressors?

If money were no object, [insert the service you offer] would you buy to solve this what 's keeping you up at night?

What do you want [Your Company Name] to understand understood about you?

Dream product/service you’re about to buy OR in your life in general (that relates to to the service you offer)?

Other questions to add:

Specifics about your product or service such as pricing, timing or operation questions.

Have they used [insert the service you offer] before and what was their experience?

I found out through surveying whom I thought was my ideal client that many had been burned from other social media strategists and their hesitations into contracting someone to help.

Where do I gather information?

Once your questions are ready, you have a couple of options for “mining the data.”

Option 1: Call up five people you’d think are your client, ask them for coffee and talk through the questions.

Option 2: Develop a survey and send to your ideal clients. You can drop this into Facebook Groups, email to associations where your typical customer hangs out or email ideal customers individually.

Option 3: This idea came from an Amy Porterfield podcast, and it’s brilliant … go to your competitor’s blogs and read the comments.

Option 4: ALL OF THE ABOVE or a combination. I usually stick to doing a combination of option 1 & 2. I’m currently working on my Ideal Customer for my group coaching program, and I added in option 3 to the mix.

Information is gathered … not what?

You’ve spent time getting to know who you think is your ideal client. Take the answers and form a story you'll reference when working on messaging, paid advertising, etc. Give the client a real name and life ... yes, this is one of those visualization exercises. You’ll be surprised how often you look at this.

Next up, extract what is keeping your customer's up at night and turn that into messaging you'll use throughout advertising campaigns, copywriting, titles of presentations. Why hit the pain points? You've discovered what your customer's roadblocks are and now you're going to solve them in your messaging. Brilliant, right?

This process is one that take some time. It actually took me about 2 months to finish up this process. Don’t let that stop you as this work is important.

Hopefully, this exercise has been helpful and if you have any questions, please contact me and I’ll be happy to walk you through it.