The Importance Of Knowing Your Ideal Client

June 9, 2015

by Teresa Riccobuono

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When I start working with a client, one of the first things they want me to do is help them develop a personalized marketing plan.

To set the foundation for that plan, we first must determine their ideal client. If we don’t know they are trying to attract, how can we put a plan in place that will interest the preferred type of prospect?

Developing an ideal client profile

A good ideal client profile will include both quantitative and qualitative characteristics. These are ideal characteristics and you will be selecting aspects that most appeal to you.

To get started, think about your existing clients. Categorize them as smiley-face, frowny-face or in-between clients. A smiley-face client is someone who you are happy to see come in for a meeting. When you see their name on the caller ID, you smile. Your initial thought is, “I can’t wait to see (or talk with) them.”

A frowny-face client is, well, you get the idea. Your initial thought might be, “What are they going to complain about this time?”

An in-between client is someone who neither generates enthusiasm nor pain.

Next, analyze your smiley-face clients and note what it is you really like about each of them. There will likely be a few quantitative characteristics that rise to the top of the list, similarities among your favorite clients. In addition, there will be a significant number of qualitative characteristics on the list.

Quantitative characteristics are often easy to determine. They are things like: age, amount of investible assets, discretionary cash flow, job title, employed by a particular company, business owner, pre-retired or retired.

Qualitative characteristics are more difficult to define. They are more subjective.

Here are some of the qualitative characteristics that often make an advisor’s list:

  • Too busy or are not interested in managing their assets
  • Decisive and likely to implement my advice
  • Has realistic expectations
  • Will be honest with me and fully disclose their assets, values, goals and concerns
  • Willing to pay fairly for my time and expertise
  • Views me as an investment, not an expense
  • Values my time
  • Generally optimistic — It is nearly impossible to make a good investor out of a pessimist
  • Respected or well known in the community
  • Active in organizations or associations
  • Outgoing and social

Not all advisors develop a list of attributes or characteristics. A few may narrow it down to one or two words.

For example, one of my advisor clients has ”engaged” as her ideal client attribute. She says she will work with any client as long as they are engaged in the financial planning process. She knows from her experience that engaged clients are easier to work with and follow the plan, thus are more successful in the long run.

Another advisor has selected “appreciative” as his ideal client attribute. He enjoys working with clients who openly appreciate the work he does on their behalf.

While working with another advisor, I determined that her ideal clients filled in as surrogate parents. She enjoys working with older clients who are comfortable sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee, discussing family, travel, hobbies and what’s going on financially.

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