How not knowing what a client avatar was, almost sent me back into solitary confinement
“How could it all go so wrong?”
I sat in my accountant’s office, dazed by what he was telling me. I didn’t want to believe that after all of the hard work I’d put in to start my own advice business, it had amounted to this.
“Please tell me this is not really how it ends Jeff?”
It was Friday, 14th May 2017. In the 12 months that had passed since leaving the safety of a large multi-disciplinary advice business, I had been following the same script I was taught in that very business 20 years prior. A script, as it turns out, that doesn’t work if you are a one-man-band.
Then he hit me with it: “I’m sorry DB but not all clients are created equal. This is very much an issue of quantity over quality.” At this point Jeff really wasn’t doing anything to make me feel better. “But don’t beat yourself up” he continued “most people make the same mistake as you when starting their own business – they think they can follow the status quo.”
“Great!” I thought to myself, not only had I failed at this within twelve months of starting – I had also been unoriginal whilst doing so.
The numbers Jeff showed me that day had the impact of standing on the end of a garden rake – he had my attention!
Reflecting on my journey, I had been lucky enough to have loyal clients who had followed me when I started my own business (not before I had delivered a very large cheque for that privilege!) But unfortunately, I also had a lot of clients on my list that just were not profitable; an issue compounded by saying YES to any and all new referrals I could get my hands on.
In an instant my heart rate dropped. “It may not be pretty DB, but we can salvage it. You’re just going to need to figure out who your client ‘avatar’ is and find more of them quickly!”
Jeff might as well have been speaking in Swahili at that point, but I didn’t care, as long as there was a solution to this problem. I was hell bent on making this business work – the prospect of returning cap in hand to another employer had the appeal of solitary confinement – no thank you!
A client avatar as it turns out, is quite simply a detailed profile of your ideal customer. As marketing expert Minal Sampat explains in an article recently published on Forbes “Your ideal customer avatar is a customer profile that is a best-case scenario for your business.”
As Jeff had begun to educate me that Friday in May, figuring out your client avatar is crucial to the long-term profitability of your business. The ‘serve everyone at any cost’ script I had been following may work in a bank or in a large multidisciplinary advice business. Particularly where you can continue to generate more income from the same client through other services like mortgages. But it most certainly does not work for a small financial advice business.
For a small financial advice business, an ideal client is someone who:
- Wants the defined solution you have to offer
- Has the willingness and financial capacity to pay for your services at a profitable price-point; and
- Knows and refers other ideal clients to you
With a list of existing clients at my disposal, it was easy to figure this out. Admittedly there is a much more structured approach you can take that will ensure your success. If you’re stuck on this, digitalmarketer.com have a great customer avatar worksheet you can use to get clear on who your ideal client is (access the worksheet here).
The beauty is, once you know your client avatar, you can begin to focus your marketing efforts on your ideal clients, i.e. you can talk to the results they are looking for, you can identify where they hang out online, and most of important of all – you can figure out the best message to use to attract them.
Once you do this, the ‘serve everyone at any cost’ approach will seem like trying to ride uphill on a unicycle with a flat tyre, when you could have been on an e-bike.
Defining my client avatar and creating a system that allows me to market directly to them, has been the biggest driver of my success over the past three years.
If you would like to find out exactly how you can emulate the success we have experienced, register for our 6-week lead generating masterclass for financial advisers. But be warned, the masterclass is not for every adviser, just for those who would prefer to work smarter not harder.
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