How to Identify your Ideal Client

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Wondering how to identify your ideal client?

The most common marketing mistake for small businesses is being vague, and if you don’t know who your ideal client is, you don’t know who to talk to.

If you are vague in your messaging, your marketing will fail.

Talking to the masses and hoping that people will love you doesn’t work in 2018.  Folks are savvy, and we filter out hundreds of marketing messages every day.

To capture attention, you need to be specific and your audience needs to feel you are talking directly to them.

Small business owners naively think that you don’t want to alienate people or turn people off from your business right? So you play it safe and try to talk to everyone.

The problem here is that if you are talking to everyone, then you are talking to no one.

Think about your own purchasing habits. If a company is vague in what they are talking about, they are not going to capture your attention, right?

What happens when the post is specific to you and interesting? You  stop scrolling, stick around and find out more don’t you?

This is because it feels like that brand is talking to you. You stop and care because you care about the topic they are talking about. You are their ideal client.

This is why finding your ideal client is critical to any marketing strategy. But how do you find out who it is?

 How to identify your ideal client as a wedding photographer

Let’s take the example of a wedding photographer. As a wedding photographer, you take photos of brides and grooms at their wedding. Every couple who is paying for a wedding will want a photographer to capture the day for them.

So it’s easy to play it safe and say your ideal client is a bride. But this is a problem. Brides are the people who will hire you, but what kind of bride is your ideal client?

I’m going to paint a picture of two different brides and you decide who you’d like to work with.


First, let’s meet Emily. She’s 27-year-old bride who is having a 30 person wedding in the backyard of her parents home in the country. Her ceremony will be short but meaningful. She’s not religious and she isn’t interested in a traditional wedding agenda. All she wants is to spend time with her closest friends and family celebrating her love. She is having a plated, locally sourced meal and no dancing. It’s more of a dinner party, really.

She cares about her guests and having a good time. The small details like favors and elaborate, expensive decor is not important to her.  She and her fiance are paying for this day themselves and don’t want to go into debt for a one day party. Especially because they want to have kids soon, and would rather save their money for a house to buy.

She loves photography, and the photos of the day are very important. She’s willing to spend money on her photographer. They want to do photos before the ceremony so that they have a lot of time to spend with their guests. She’s nervous because she doesn’t think she photographs well. She doesn’t know how to work around that, so she tries to not think about it. She wants to see the laughter, the hugs and the silly moments of the day. The emotion and their connection when looking at each other is what she wants to see in the photos. It’ll be a plus if she doesn’t look too awkward in the photos too!


Second, we have Brittany, a 27-year-old bride who is having a 250 person wedding. The ceremony will be at her church. The reception is at the local golf club where her mom’s friend is member and is sponsoring them to be able to host there. The wedding is being paid for by her parents. Each part of the day reflects on the status of not only the bride and groom but the bride’s parents as well. Every detail is beautiful, elegant and thought out.

They have a wedding planner taking care of all the details for them so that every detail is perfect. They will not see each other before the 1-hour Catholic ceremony for photos, because they are traditional and want a classic wedding . Their ceremony and reception are 5 miles away from each other and they want to bus the bridal party around for photos.  She wants a second photographer to go to the reception to capture happy hour while the bridal party photos are taken by you. Capturing the details and decor is super important because her goal is to have her wedding featured in a wedding magazine.

She loves photography, and the photos of the day are super important for her.  It’s important she looks poised and confident and elegant. These photos will be like a status symbol for her and her family, so they need to be perfect.  Her parents are paying for the wedding, and she and her fiance have high paying jobs and don’t plan on having kids. The cost of the wedding barely crosses her mind.

Both Emily and Brittany are brides. But you will never be able to capture both of their attention with your marketing message. They care about drastically different things.

To keep the net wide enough to not offend or turn off either, your message will be vague. “I take pretty photos, hire me for your wedding.”

Would that message stop you in your tracks? Didn’t think so.

What if you look at those two brides and say, man, I know that that that Emily and her backyard wedding sounds like my kind of wedding. I can relate to her and I would  LOVE to work with her.  But,  Brittany, the high society wedding sounds like a lot of hassle and coordination and expectations. You fear you will be so stressed with the timeline and making sure it all happens, that you won’t feel creative to capture the day as expected. If you take on Brittany’s wedding, you won’t sleep for a week coming up on the wedding because you are so nervous.

In this situation, you know your ideal client is Emily, the backyard wedding bride.

Now that you know you want to work with the Emilys of the world, you need to start talking to the Emilys in the world.

 You start talking to the values of Emily and her backyard wedding in all your messaging to attract more people like Emily.

Your website shows beautiful, simple backyard or intimate weddings.

You blog about how to make your wedding unique without having to do all the traditional agenda.

You include an engagement session in all your wedding packages. You talk about how you include the engagement session so she gets a trial in front of the camera.  She’ll know what it’s like being photographed, and she’ll see photos you’ve taken of her that she loves. She will trust you completely after that.

Start posting the intimate weddings.  Blog about nontraditional wedding days. You will attract Emily and people like her.

Emily is your ideal client and you are talking directly to her.

 With messaging like this, when Emily inquires, she’s going to be so excited to work with you that she’s 90% sold on hiring you before you’ve ever spoken.

I’d call that a win wouldn’t you??

What about Brittany, the high society bride?

She’s going to take 2 seconds to look at your message and will continue to scroll on by. You’ve used your message to attract Emily and her backyard wedding while Brittany is looking for someone who is talking to her.

See how important it is to know who you are talking to in your messaging? You aren’t talking to any bride. You are talking to Emily.

How do you figure out how to identify your ideal client?  Start by answering these questions:

  • What problem does your service fix?
  • What are the pain points that someone is looking to fix by hiring your service?

These are the questions that landed you with the notion that your ideal client is a “bride”. This is the starting point and an important step) , but you need to go deeper.

You also need to know:

  • What are the demographics of your ideal client?
    • age
    • race
    • religion
    • income level
    • where they live
    • type of job
    • etc
  • What is the psychographics of your ideal client?
    • What makes them happy?
    • What worries them?
    • Why do they like your service?
    • What repels them?
    • What’s important to them?
    • What is their style?
    • Where do they shop?
    • What magazines do they read?
    • Who do they follow on IG?
    • Are they even on social media?

Getting through these answers will give you a deeper idea of who you are talking to.  You’ll know how to talk to them in a way that will attract them.

If you are first starting out in business, you may have to make up the answers.  Imagine who you think your ideal client is until you’ve worked with enough clients. Then you’ll know who you’ve loved and who you’ve disliked working with.

Once you’ve worked with someone that you absolutely LOVED working with, ask to interview them.   If you loved working with them, you’ll love working with others that are like them.

If you don’t want to call and interview a past client, a survey is a great way to get similar responses. Ask open-ended questions so their insights will give you info on what they like and how to attract them. Sometimes it can be eye-opening reading the answers and you can refine your message to speak to their needs.

The takeaways for identifying your ideal client:

  • Look past the service you offer and into the demographics and psychographics of the people hiring you
  • Learn what they care about and start talking about those things in your messaging in a way that connects with your service.
  • Don’t be bland or be vague unless you want to be forgotten.
  • Write to attract that one specific person, and repel the others. If you don’t take a stand, you won’t stop anyone’s scroll.
  • In your branding and all messaging, you will want to think about that one person. Ask yourself what she/he will be attracted to every time you post or share anything.
  • Look over all your website, social media, and blog. Make sure that you are telling the same message everywhere.

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