Practitioner Seeking Ideal Clients: Courting the clients you want

[Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

In my last entry I talked about making a list of what your ideal client is like. My little list read: “wears jeans and t-shirts, hikes, gardens, tries to eat well, demands a good cheeseburger and beer on occasion, shops at the local market, etc, etc.” This was fine until I realized it read like a personals ad.

Cool! Because when you market your practice, you are basically running a personal.

Or, maybe it’s icky. Do I really want to compare marketing your practice to a personals ad? I mean … really?

Well, yes. I do.

But with a couple disclaimers first, just to make things clear:

  1. I am in no way suggesting you should treat or view clients in a way that is less than the moral and ethical codes of your practice.
  2. I am in no way suggesting you should treat or view clients in a way that is less than the moral and ethical codes of your practice.

That being said — marketing your practice is a lot like writing a personals ad. For those of you who have never written a personal, it’s tough.

You sit in front of a screen or a blank sheet of paper and figure out how you can honestly describe yourself.

You do all sorts of verbal gymnastics with the aim of weeding out the creeps and time-wasters before they even think of contacting you.

You want people to know good stuff about you, but you don’t want to sound immodest or like you’re trying too hard.

You want to ensure that potential admirers understand what is important to you. You find yourself making lists of all the things you’re not willing to compromise on: dessert, dog ownership, jeans, northern latitudes … Then insecurity sets in. What if I seem too inflexible? Stern? Dopey? What if no one responds? What if no one likes me?

You go back and change your ad. Now your ad reads as wishy-washy and too eager to please. Who’s going to like that? GARG!

I’m here to tell you that the more honest you are about what you want, the better ad you will create. This holds true for marketing as well as personal ads.

And it is tough. Until you get going. The thing to remember in marketing is that you are more successful when you talk about what your clients want to know (hint: it’s not what association you belong to).

Here’s an exercise to light your fire:

  • Make a list of what your ideal client is like. Be as specific as you can.
  • Make a second list of what your ideal client would care about (there will be duplicate items from list #1).
  • Take a handful of items from list #2 that resonate with you. Write down how your work can address those cares. This is where you start talking to your clients — regular or potential.
  • Now you are ready to start writing a postcard or a flyer or an email. Keep your statements brief and client-focused.
  • Take 20 minutes. Give it a shot. You’ll probably discover something worthwhile.

By the way, if you want a great example of a business’ personal ad, check out Match.com’s About Us page. It’s their personals ad. You’d expect them to write a good personal ad and … they do.