Ruha Ratnam

The Designist Studio

How to define your ideal client

Three women talking and laughing. They are sitting on a bench in front of a tulip field.

Why you should define your ideal client, and step-by-step guidance to identify the niche for you.

A common challenge many of my clients have is that they lack clarity when it comes to who their audience is and what their ideal client looks like. 

Usually, it’s because they’re concerned that narrowing down their target market will limit their business opportunities.

“Won’t focusing on a specific niche decrease my sales because I’m leaving people out?”

I’ve even seen big corporations make this mistake. I remember someone – defending the choice to not niche down – asking how Apple was so successful catering to everyone. After all, it’s a youthful, trendy company whose phones are in everyone’s hands, including your grandma’s! 

The thing is, Apple does market to a specific demographic. However, everyone who wants to feel like they belong to that demographic purchases their products, regardless of whether they actually look like Apple’s ideal client!

Here’s the thing: when you niche down, you’re marketing to a specific group of people. So, rather than experiencing missed opportunities, you actually increase your chances of finding clients.

How? When you speak directly to your ideal client and address their specific needs, you connect with them on their values, fears, and aspirations. 

Those are powerful things to connect with. Your audience is more likely to trust you, and having worked with you, stay loyal to your business.

Narrowing down your niche allows you to discover a brand voice that is genuine and also appropriate to your specific audience.

It increases your value by providing solutions specific to this niche, which means you can raise your prices.

Niching down also allows you to create a client experience that sets you apart from your competitors because you understand and address the needs of your chosen niche.

How do I know if I chose the right niche?

A good place to start is to pick a niche that you are familiar with. That means that you already work in this niche, are a client within this niche, or know people who also serve this clientele.

You can see yourself enjoying working with people in this niche and solving the problems that they need to have resolved. 

You believe that people in this niche need your services, and they need it now

If they don’t need it now, dig a little deeper to see if there are people within that niche who, under different circumstances, do need your services sooner rather than later. 

Or, are you able to tweak your offerings (without lowering value) to meet their needs so that you are solving an immediate pain point. 

*Remember, we buy now to solve a pain point that’s immediately in front of us. We tend to be less concerned about investing for some future return or to prevent an outcome.

Keep in mind that you are not bound to your niche. You might decide that you actually hate working with a specific clientele, at which point you can always pivot to serve a different audience.

How do I define my ideal client?

First, clarify your services. 

If I asked you what you do, would you be able to tell me in a simple, concise sentence?

In order to identify your ideal client, you first have to clearly identify what you are providing. For example, I offer website design, branding, audits, email marketing, and website maintenance services. However, ask me what I do and I’ll tell you “I build branding and websites for creative entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses on their own terms”. 

Even if you offer a variety of services and products to help your clients, clearly articulate the high-value solutions that you offer.

Next, think about your favourite client. 

Who have you worked with before, or would like to in the future, whom you would love to have as a client. 

Answer these questions with that person in mind:

  • Why did I enjoy working with them? What were all the reasons it was such a great experience?
  • What age group are they in? What gender are they? How does this impact their goals and needs, if it does?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • What are their personal values?
  • What do I love about their personality?
  • What do I not like about their personality?

Then, make a list of potential niches.

Write down a few niches you can think of that you are in some way connected with. Consider your educational background, past jobs, hobbies, community groups, etc.

Think of people you know within those niches whom you could reach out to.

Now, with those specific people in mind, picture what a day in their life looks like before meeting you. (Do this for each niche you listed.) 

Imagine what they do from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. 

What are some of the frustrations they experience as they go about their day? What are some of the problems they need solved? 

Think about what they might be feeling and thinking as they go about their day. Identify the internal fears they might have.

Now, think about what they might be looking for to solve their challenges. What they think they need might not be what they actually need, but try to get in your potential client’s head to understand their thought process.

Write down their goals and aspirations – think business and also personal goals. What do they want to achieve? What does success look like to them?

Do a little research to identify if there is profitability in this niche. Reach out to people you already know who work in this niche or who serve this niche. 

Are they ready to purchase your services? If not, what would have to change in order for your services to solve an immediate problem they have? (Or do you need to get more specific with your niche?)

Finally, choose your niche.

Determine which of these niches you would enjoy working with. Identify the niche that you connect with most, where you already know people within that niche, that would be fun for you, and where there is an immediate need for your services.

Once you’ve identified your niche, you’re one step closer to defining an impactful brand strategy that helps you grow your business!

Interested in more topics on building your brand? Check out my (growing) suite of resources on the subject!

  1. How to develop your brand strategy
  2. How to define your brand purpose
  3. 5 signs it’s time for a brand refresh
How to define your ideal client