Define Ideal Clients - Strategic Marketing - Business Collage on Cube

One of the keys to strategic marketing is to make the best use of your limited resources for the greatest results. One of the most powerful drivers of marketing results is to define your ideal clients precisely.


The best way to show how this works is to take you along on my latest journey to do just that for the online marketing services portion of our business.

A good strategy is just as much about what you will not do as it is about what you will do. When you make that choice, it allows you to focus and become better at the areas you’ve chosen. This approach lets you position your business as a specialist and rise above lowest price competition.

True full-service agencies don’t exist. You can’t possibly be good at everything in marketing, consulting, or any other field. So we will focus on our competencies and then partner with others to offer clients more services.

Remember that this exercise is from our perspective. You will have to adapt it to your situation.

The Focus is on the Client First

Ideal Clients Marketing Venn Diagram - 3 Circle

Most Venn diagrams you see have three overlapping circles. In our case, we’ll start with the three circles corresponding to what defines our perfect customers. Then we will get fancy and add a fourth.

Your Target Market

Since we are selling your company’s services and products, we need to understand the buyer for it to be effective. Typical market segmenting starts with whether what you do is primarily Business to Business (B2B) or Business to Consumer (B2C). We are focusing on businesses selling to other companies.

Since selling to large firms or the government is much different than selling to small and mid-sized business, we’ve decided to focus on organizations that sell to Small and Mid-sized Businesses or Enterprises (SMB or SME). Micro-businesses seldom spend on bigger ticket items. So our definition of the SMB/SME market is 10 to 1000 employees with the sweet spot being in the 20-500 employee range.

To further create synergies, our online marketing and business (software) services also target the same market as our marketing clients are pursuing. We are now able to focus all our energy on understanding and reaching one B2B market size.

Your Products and Services

Some companies will try to sell to everyone. With inbound marketing, it truly helps if you understand who you are targeting and the things you are selling.

Because of our history, experience, and projects we feel we can best serve SMBs who are selling business services and products to other SMB companies. An offshoot of that are firms that sell services and products that a company would use to serve their clients. For instance, you manufacture high-end equipment that is part of a bigger offering.

The keys are:

  • SMB to SMB sales
  • High-value services and products
  • You add expertise that positions your company out of the commodity market.

Your Business Vision and Culture

This part is a little more subjective, but there are a few reliable measures we’ve defined.

We are looking to work with businesses (SMB/SME) that want to grow or at least need to attract more profitable (ideal) clients on an ongoing basis. If you don’t need more customers, why would you invest in marketing? Your business goals matter.

Business vision, goals, and culture are essential ingredients to telling a story about your company. A clear vision and solid culture show us you are different, especially if you are willing to position your company based on those considerations.

The Fourth Circle – Our Business Vision and Culture

Ideal Clients Marketing Venn Diagram - 4 CircleWe could leave this one off. However, the reality is that in creative work our values, beliefs, and culture affect our results. We aren’t a match for everyone. We need to work well together.

For instance, we work best where we are running with projects and ongoing work in a trusted partnership. Micro-managing work drives up costs significantly – ours and yours. If you want a marketing firm where you will dictate all the creative and operational decisions in great detail, outsourcing to us would not be the best match.

We will agree on the desired outcomes, the rules of engagement, and the limitations – then we will focus on getting you the results while keeping you informed of progress. You shouldn’t have to worry about all the details if you are delegating to a trusted partner.

The Venn Sweet Spots

“A” Match – Perfect Clients

The A on the diagram marks the perfect confluence of all the criteria. Here we can do our best work, and our customers appreciate the outcomes.

What you get are more ideal clients who have the potential to drive profit for your company. We get meaningful and profitable work of which we can be proud. That is creating a win-win situation.

“B” Matches – Close to Ideal Clients

The B’s on the diagram show prospects who match on at least three of the four criteria. These candidates are considered to be nearly perfect.

Since most of the criteria are not binary, these matches can still be excellent.

The key is to identify your showstoppers so you can avoid situations that just won’t work out.

Less than Ideal

We have committed to passing on working with organizations that don’t match our definition of ideal clients. This approach frees us to spend more time focused on attracting and working with better clients.

In turn, we can do great work that is well-appreciated.

We can make exceptions if we choose. For instance, if a large company wanted help reaching the SMB market and we believed in their company and products we might still decide to do some work for them. But we would have to have a compelling reason like impact and enough dollars (we are entrepreneurs after all), and we have to understand the effect on our other clients. Most importantly, we would not actively seek them out – we would rely on inbound.

Finding Your Ideal Clients

There is a lot more detail to this than I can put in the post, but the goal was to get you headed in the right direction.

“When you are starting and building your business (or professional) credibility you ideally want to go back to being the big fish in the little pond.”

Read more about 80/20 Marketing.

How precise have you defined your ideal clients? Who will you turn away? Are you employing your marketing strategically or tactically?


If you would like to delve deeper for your company, download this free Guidebook.