Defining Your Client Archetypes


April 2, 2019


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“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”

— Elsie de Wolfe

No matter if you’re starting a business, developing a new product, or taking your brand in a new direction, the first thing you have to understand is your ideal client or customer. It’s pointless to start a new venture or create a new offering if you’re not clear on who’s going to buy it, and why. You’ll end up spending hours of unnecessary time dreaming and developing, only to question the silence once you’ve finally launched the thing.

Understanding client archetypes is something I frequently do as part of the branding process, but haven’t necessarily defined for myself. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve made client archetypes for myself in the past, but inevitably my business starts to take a turn and I find the need to reevaluate who I want to work with.

Here are five ways to identify your own target client (or customer) and what to do once you’ve figured out who they are.

Take inventory of who you’ve worked with in the past.

The first, and most important, factor to consider is who you may already be working with. An ideal client is a mixture of both who you want to work with, but also those who already value your services. It’s worthwhile to take a moment to evaluate who you’ve worked with in the past, and any lessons you may have learned about what constitutes a good fit.

Notice who you tend to follow online.

Noticing patterns in who you follow online will shine a light on who you naturally gravitate towards. Whether or not its an aspirational account or industry peer, noticing what influences you is a great starting point in thinking through potential customers and clients. Where are you similar and where are you different?

Think of who might be one or two steps away from wanting, and needing, to work with you.

Take a step back and think about who may be just one step ahead of needing your product or service. How can they shine a light on who your ideal client would be? Understanding the various differences in an audience can help further niche what constitutes an ideal fit.

Consider that you may work with multiple tiers of ideal clients.

It’s worth considering that you may have more than one ideal client, in different stages of life or business. If this is the case, you’ll want to think through what makes them similar and different, and how they might interact with your brand in different ways.

Pay close attention to the people who perk up when you talk about your business.

And finally, who shows a genuine interest in your business and products when you talk about what you do?

Once you’ve brainstormed who might fit within the definition of an “ideal client,” let’s start putting language around this person so you can begin using it for your business.

Define the demographics

It seems basic, but you’ll first want to identify the basic demographics. I tend to think details like hair and eye color are unnecessary (and may accidentally box you in to a specific “look” when we all benefit from diversity and inclusion!) However, there are a few details that will absolutely affect the way you talk to your audience.

• Is your ideal client/customer male or female? Or maybe both?
• Is your ideal client/customer local or remote?
• Is your ideal client/customer close to your age? Younger? Older?
• Is your ideal client married, single, or still living at home? What’s their financial situation?

Outline a day-in-the-life

Once you’ve got a basic sense of the demographics, you can start to daydream about their day-to-day life. Starting from the moment they wake up, how do you picture them spending their time? What do they do with free time? Weekends? Vacations? Getting inside the mind of your client will help you resonate with them.

Write a narrative

Once you’ve brainstormed your ideal client’s day-to-day life, begin writing a short story about them, including their pain points, hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Sprinkle in ways that your product or business makes their life easier. Think of what your relationship would look like and how you might connect your business with their life.

Develop a path to purchase

Finally, go through your products and services. Map out a path to purchase, beginning with how you’ll begin the relationship to developing mutual respect and lifelong loyalty. What does it look like for someone to become a brand ambassador for YOU?


Kadie Smith

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