6 Tips for Determining Your Agency’s Ideal Client Allie Wolff There comes a time in every agency’s life where you need to take a good, hard look at your client base. Many agencies have a tendency to adopt an “any client goes” mentality at first, just grateful for the work that helps them grow. As your agency begins to flourish, you may notice that business starts to plateau or, even worse, some of your clients aren’t fitting your needs, either financially, creatively, or through the always frustrating scope creep. To take your agency to the next level, you’ll need to spend some time considering your ideal client. While, of course, “made of money and respects our expertise” sounds perfect, there’s more to your collaborations than just dollar signs. In six simple steps, here’s how you can define and humanize the type of client you’d like to work with, so you have some clarity on how to get them clamoring for your services. 1. Know your value and identity. Before you go seeking out the perfect identity of your clients, you’ll need to take some time and think about who you are as a company. Take some time to consider a few of the following questions: What makes your agency shine above the rest? What are your company’s values and beliefs? Who is currently benefiting from your services? What are your financial goals? Do you feel that your current clients fit your company goals? If not, what separates the good clients from the bad ones? 2. Take a peek at your competitors. In an age of social media, it’s so easy to take a gander at what your competitors are doing. Look at the types of clients they’re going for and what their growth looks like. Of course, it’s difficult to infer this entirely from social media. Set up Google Alerts about your competitors to get notified of any buzz they’re building. Subscribe to their emails and take note of their outreach efforts. Who are they trying to reach? Is it successful? What types of clients are they partnering with? 3. Take a look at your current and past client interactions. Look at your significant accomplishments and mishaps during the initial growth of your agency. What did they have in common? Are negative issues like scope creep, miscommunication, or unhappy customers coming from similar clients or projects? Look for red flags and try to see if there are any connections between the projects. How about accomplishments? Is there a service that several clients have utilized to solve a similar problem? Analyze your successes for common threads that could translate to a type of client you’d like to do more business with. 4. Track referrals and demographics. People tend to hang out with like-minded people. The same can be said for companies as well. Track where your clients are coming from and learn their demographics. Take note of where they hang out online and in person. Look at the other types of businesses they keep in their company. These can be exceptional learning tools and networking opportunities for more clients in a similar vein. 5. Build a buyer persona. After taking a good long look at your agency projects, competitors, clients, and demographics, it’s time to build buyer personas. A buyer persona is a profile that represents your ideal client. You’ll want to make this detailed and humanized. It shouldn’t just be, “John Doe, CEO.” What are their likes, dislikes, and passions? What type of office do they run? What style of collaboration would they have? Create human, believable profiles based on the data you’ve collected. The more human you make your ideal client, the easier they’ll be to recognize when they come waltzing through your door. 6. Create a profile for clients to avoid. Finally, we can’t talk about ideal clients without touching on the not-so-ideal. Unfortunately, in the agency life, there are times where creative, professional, or financial differences can mean a working relationship just isn’t productive. To put it bluntly, it’s OK (even necessary) to fire clients. Use the negative experiences that you’ve had with your agency growth, along with comparisons with your ideal client, to humanize your unideal client. Just as you want to recognize a perfect sale, you certainly want to recognize the red flags of a client that won’t gel with what you do. Once your client profiles (positive and negative) are defined, don’t be afraid to update them from time-to-time. On an annual basis, take time to analyze your work from the past year and update your ideal clients accordingly. As your business grows, your picture of an ideal client is bound to change. Determining your ideal client can be a daunting, self-reflective task, but it is critical to the growth of your agency. It’s time to target the types of clients that will not only benefit you financially but creatively as well.