How to Identify Your Ideal Client – And What It Takes to Get Them Hooked

This week’s guest post is from Charles E Gaudet II. Charles created his first business by the age 24, and is most recognized as a leading small business expert for entrepreneurs. His advice has been featured on Inc., Fox Business, Forbes, and many other media channels around the world. In addition to this, Charles is an international speaker, author of “The Predictable Profits Playbook,” and a marketing consultant. In this post, he shares an experience with his father that shaped his business philosophy, sharing valuable insight into how you can hook your ideal client.


Father and son moments are the stuff that make lasting memories – especially when there’s a familiar dock and a couple of fishing poles involved. Little did I know, this experience resulted in a lesson that has helped myself and my coaching clients increase their sales by millions.

One day as a young kid, I sat on our dock on Lake Winnipesaukee with my father trying (unsuccessfully) to catch fish. Because my father was the wisest man I knew, I asked for his advice. His response was simple:

“Kid, just put a hot dog at the end of your hook.”

 It sounds simple, sure – but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Dad had to teach me about bait. If I wanted a fish, I had to offer it something desirable. And dad was right – the hot dogs worked like a charm for the perch in the lake.

I was happy catching those little fish for a while, but it didn’t take long before I craved a bass. I wanted something bigger, but they just weren’t biting. I didn’t understand at the time that the bass weren’t biting because I was using the wrong bait.

The lesson: not every fish eats a hot dog.

You see, when it comes down to attracting your ideal client, you have to know the difference between “bass” and “perch” – and understand that they’re both looking for different things at the end of your presentation’s “hook.”

Again, not every fish wants a hot dog.

Different types of clients/customers are attracted to different types of offerings, and to catch the attention of your ideal prospects, you’ve got to use the right message to entice them. It’s entirely possible to have a great offering that your ideal audience isn’t interested in, and it’s just as possible to know exactly who you’re after, but not have a clue about what kind “bait” might get them to bite.

Obviously, both scenarios are going to cause a problem for bringing new customers into your company.

Let’s tackle them one at a time.

Identifying Your Ideal Client

 Before you can even consider the right offer to attract more customers, you have to know who you want to attract in the first place! As the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 Rule) would indicate, 80% of your sales are going to come from the 20% of your customers who represent your ideal audience. That means that finding those best prospects is integral to your success – but how do you find them? How do you even know what to look for?

It starts with a basic question: who do you want to serve?

Dig into some research about who’s spending the most money in your industry:

Figure out what they’re buying and why, of course, but also explore who they are: age, income, gender, other interests, common traits.

Explore media (magazines, TV, etc.) that caters to that crowd, and learn what concerns, problems, causes, passions, and frustrations they have. The more you know about them, the better!

One technique is to identify the magazines/websites your ideal customer reads then download their media kit.   Read more about the demographics of your customer and, view their website to identify what posts are most popular and the images that resonate with your user.

For example, my ideal coaching client is commonly a subscriber of Inc. magazine. With Inc., they typically portray entrepreneurs between the ages of 35 – 45 years old who dress in business casual and are often quite ‘hip.’   They think out of the box and are intently interested in adding value to their customers and employees.

If I promoted a ‘get rich quick’ marketing scheme to this audience using an image of a 30-something year old sitting in a Ferrari decked out in a 3-piece suit – this would turn off my ideal client.

Create an image of a SINGLE person – give them a name, picture what clothes they wear, what they like to eat, what movies they watch. The more details you have about your ideal customer, the better you’ll be able to create a message, imagery and offering that’s directed specifically at them.

After all, to choose the proper bait, you have to know what you’re fishing for…

Creating Your Offering

 It’s dangerous to assume you know what your ideal customer wants just because you sell a solution. Beyond even understanding the “who” of the matter, do your best to understand why they behave the way they do, what motivates them to act, and perhaps most importantly – what your best customers already like about you and your company.

By getting a good handle on your ideal clients’ motivators (and how they think about your business), you have a central core for your entire marketing strategy.

For example, one of my clients in the financial education noticed his competitors were marketing to investors who wanted to rapidly increase their wealth. It was only after surveying our 80,000 list of prospects and clients, which we determined our clients were most interested in supplementing their income, saving for retirement and becoming a full-time trader… with “getting rich” representing roughly 8% of the total interests.

This was a surprising revelation to all of us.

You see, everything you create should then revolve around delivering what they want to hear. It will take some time and diligent effort, but the impact it has on your conversion will be well worth it.

And the best thing you can do is ASK!

Reach out to the customers and prospects you already have – find the most loyal, most enthusiastic clientele on your list and get the info straight from them. You can offer them a survey to fill out, interview them, ask for comment cards – anything to gain their insight about what they want, why they want it, and why they’d prefer to get it from you.

When you know what your ideal clients want from you, you know what “bait” to offer them – and all the people like them that you want to do business with. If you can identify – specifically – a range of details about your ideal clients, from the problems they face to the types of communication they prefer, you’ll have fantastic guidelines for every piece of your marketing material.

With the right messaging, you’ll attract better customers with less effort. Your sales cycle will be shorter, conversion rates higher, and repeat business more frequent. Your lifetime customer value will shoot through the roof, and your reputation as the obvious choice in your industry will flourish. And all of this means getting closer and closer to dominating your market.

You can’t just cast a bare hook out into the water – and you can’t expect to catch every type of fish with a hot dog. Know what you’re after, know what they want, and make it the central part of your strategy.

It’s the only way to get the big fish to bite.

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