Your Ideal Client Doesn't Matter (As Much As You Think)

06/13/2016 05:10 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2017

As a copywriter, one question frustrates me above all others: “How do I tell my ideal client what they want to hear?

Yikes. Okay.

The question makes a lot of sense in certain industries, but the vast majority of my clients are in the business of building long-term relationships with their audience. Which makes this question inherently unsettling.

Yes, it's important to understand your ideal client. How else will you deliver meaningful results? You need to know your ideal client’s hopes, dreams, fears, and desires. Yet, if your only priority is appeasing your audience, you're missing a critical piece of the puzzle.

Yourself.

Yes, you. Your own personality, values, goals, and ideas. Before you spend time delving into your ideal client, you need to know who you are to your clients.

This is especially true for service providers who spend a lot of time, energy, and even face-time with their clients.

Long-lasting, quality results are born from a true understanding of your audience and yourself. When you are your brand, you must have a defined voice. Far too many entrepreneurs forget themselves and spend hours obsessing over their "ideal client avatar". As a result, they end up fading into the background.

Here are a few ways to bridge the gap between you and your ideal client.

Understand your positioning

I learned this lesson the hard way.

When I first started my business I didn't know what I was doing. Desperate for work, I sought out those who fit my ideal client avatar. When I found them, I told them what they wanted to hear.

In short, I turned myself into the kind of writer they wanted to hire. I was pandering.

The problem?

The kind of writer they wanted to hire wasn't always the kind of writer I wanted to be.

My approach was time consuming and many of my clients were far from a match. Sure, they fit my ideal client profile, but it didn't seem to matter. We didn't connect because my own messaging was inconsistent. As a result, we couldn't build the long-lasting, quality relationships I wanted.

Knowing something had to change, I went back to the drawing board, set aside my ideal client avatar, and focused on my positioning. I drew on my self-deprecating humor, my obsession with science-fiction, and my experience as a classroom teacher.

All of these factors came together to create one unique voice. Mine.

Once I became clear on my positioning I was ruthless in pursuing it. Only then did I bring my ideal client into the equation.

As a result, everything begin to shift. Instead of prowling for work, potential clients knocked on my door. People respected my message and didn't feel as though they were hiring "just another copywriter". They were hiring a quirky, geeky wordsmith with a particular talent for breaking down complex topics.

Instead of immediately jumping to your ideal client's needs, take time to understand what you bring to the table. How are you different from others in your field? What do you stand for, and what non-negotiable aspects of your personality weave their way into your business?

Once you identify your positioning, stick to it. In the long run, this will allow you to stand out more than anything else.

Not sure how to pinpoint your positioning? I've developed a quick, ten-question quiz to get you started.

Reinforce your brand through your copy

Once you understand your positioning, you can tweak your brand to match. These small adjustments are crucial, and they go beyond your logo and website design.

Your brand is reinforced every single day by the copy you create. Through words, you connect with your audience on a daily basis. Through words, you close sales and build relationships.

You can have the best branding in the world, but if the words don't match? You're shooting yourself in the foot. This why so many websites seem to be afflicted with identical copy.

It's time to move away from telling people what we think they want to hear. Remain confident in your messaging. Instead of becoming a chameleon be absolutely relentless in staying true to your positioning.

Remain consistent across platforms

Taking ownership of your positioning goes deeper than your website. So often people agonize over their website copy only to drop the ball on day-to-day communications.

When you are your brand you're responsible for presenting yourself in a consistent manner. Maintaining a personality people recognize across platforms is how your audience gets to know you. Yes, your website copy is important. So are your tweets and your Facebook posts and the e-mails you send to your list. Everything should be framed with the same voice in mind.

The entrepreneurs who rise to the top of their field and kill it every day? They're the ones who have the audacity to be true to themselves. They understand their positioning and infuse it into every single word they write.

Your copy is your voice in the online world. You can't afford to sing a different song to every potential client.

Remember: There are a million people like you, but only one person is you

Your business isn't as unique as you think it is. There are tens of thousands of copywriters, coaches, nutritionists, and web designers out there, vying for clients.

What differentiates you from the masses is not what you do. It's who you are.

Your personality, with all its quirks and eccentricities, are what turn leads into clients. The long-term, quality clients you need won't hire you because you can solve their problem. They'll hire you because they believe you're the right person to solve their problem.

The Copywriting Character quiz will give you a starting point, providing the tools you need to build a solid foundation around your personality. Then, it's up to you to commit to the pursuit of your positioning.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS