Struggling to narrow down your coaching or consulting niche?
In this episode of the Georgee and Patty Show, we present an alternative: future clients.
A slightly woo-woo way to encompass ALL of the people you can help.
Show notes: instead of thinking about avatars and target market profiles, think about “future clients”
What we know about future clients:
- They already exist! (Unless you’re thinking really far ahead and they haven’t been born yet)
- They will show up!
- They will say yes and pay you money! (Because they’re future clients)
When you KNOW this, you have trust in your business and your goals.
How does knowing this change how you approach marketing?
Sales and marketing become about attracting and searching instead of “converting” or “convincing”
Future clients WILL agree to get on a call with you
You may feel more urgency to go find them: they need your help!
3 things you know for sure about your future clients
- They have a problem you can help them solve (otherwise they wouldn’t need you) – if you work with more positive-minded clients, the “problem” is that they don’t have something they want…yet
- They want to solve that problem in the way that you offer (if you do 1:1 coaching, they’ll want that instead of something you DON’T offer – like a course) – you don’t have to be all things to all people
- They are ready, willing and able to pay your fees
IDEAL clients will have a degree of chemistry: they like you and you like them
Lightly edited transcript
What we’re going to talk about today is niche markets and client avatars and all those kinds of things.
Yesterday I was thinking about just how adaptable we are as humans. It kind of goes back to that whole life cycle that we talked about and looking at nature, because we often see the little green grass or little plants cracking or coming up through the cracks in the sidewalks.
You know, we’re so so adaptable. And it just amazes me with how quickly we’re actually kind of adapting to this new environment that we’re in right now.
So even if you’re feeling a little bit like “I don’t know what I’m going to do, and I’m feeling a little bit confused” Have that faith and trust that you will adapt, we will adapt, we will come through this, because we’re built to> Human life finds a way! It’s not a Jurassic Park thing. Life finds a way. Life will find a way.
I was watching a Simon Sinek video, and he was talking about how when you actually have passion for something – when we fall, we find a way to fix it, we find the solutions, we get back up, we keep going.
I was thinking about Patty and I – our work that we do together and we are so so passionate about helping purpose driven entrepreneurs find their clients, get their message into the world and be able to make a living doing that. When I look over the last year and a bit like we had fallen down, we’ve gotten back up we’ve changed things. We’re so committed to it – our passion is so strong for it – we just keep going – we’ll find a way. We’re like that little piece of grass in the sidewalk. You just can’t keep us down!
I really believe you’re a purpose driven entrepreneur and you will find a way. And we will share everything we know, to try to make that a little bit easier for you.
Simon said look for real problems that people who are on the receiving end of your product or service are suffering from and solve their problems for them in their way with their words. So really start to think about who are you serving and what are what are they suffering from right now, and how can you help them.
Quote of the day
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or how to make money in real estate with no money down. That doesn’t make you a human being. It makes you a sales rep. If you want to talk to somebody, honestly, as a human being, ask them about their kids find out what their dreams are, just to find out for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it’s not a conversation anymore. It’s a pitch. And you’re not a human being, you’re a sales rep.”
Do you really have to have a niche, a target market or client avatar? We say…maybe!
Everybody talks about this idea of niches, target markets, ideal clients, avatars, whatever you want to call them.
The term that I’ve started using and I have fallen in love with is your future clients.
I’m going to invite you to see everything that you do in sales and marketing as being about your future clients, rather than thinking about niches and target markets and avatars. And there’s more to that than semantics. Trust me on that one. We’re gonna go there today.
If you’re not going to have a niche or a target market or an avatar or something like that, you still need a way to identify who’s going to buy from you – your future clients. We’re gonna take a look at what that is and a different way to approach it. I think one just to address the elephant in the room, this idea that you must define your target market, choose a niche and create a client avatar or something like that is something that we hear from every marketing guru ever including me, Past Patty used to say this too.
I think Past Georgee used to say it as well. It gets repeated so often by so many people, that it starts to become viewed as a law or a must or a rule or principle that cannot be violated.
However, it is an opinion and it may be a strongly held opinion, it may be an opinion held by a lot of people. And it may be an opinion that works very well for a lot of people. However, it is still an opinion From this, I’m just going to invite you from today into the future every day, when you hear advice given by experts in their field, including us, including you, is to append “in their opinion” to what you are hearing.
So this idea that you must have a an avatar, is somebody’s opinion. What we’re going to talk about today is our opinion. What we invite our clients to do, always, always, always is to find something that fits for them.
I wrote a book, it’s called the You-Shaped Business. I named that for a reason. It’s because I believe that we, all of our businesses have a unique size and shape and personality to them, and that what fits for me might not fit for Georgee, might not fit for the Gurus who say you have to have an avatar. So it’s about finding advice and opinions that fit for you. And there’s more than one way to do this. There’s multiple ways to succeed. A lot of different ideas can work just fine. What you’re looking for is what works for YOU. And this is our permission slip of the day:
“You don’t have to have a niche a target market or an avatar or an ideal client”
Avatars are made up things. They’re not human. And often the exercises around coming up with this spend way too much time trying to picture people that don’t actually exist and require you to list attributes that are meaningless – like gender, age, occupation, where they live, how much money they make, whether or not they have dogs or cats or how long their fingernails are.
Completely irrelevant! And people struggle to do this. And in our opinion, this stuff is a waste of time if it’s not immediately relevant.
If you’re a nail tech, you might need to know about fingernails. Because the people who are going to buy from you are going to be into that. And they’re gonna like their nails a certain length or color, and it’s gonna be important to them. However, if you don’t do anything about fingernails, it’s irrelevant.
If you’re having to spend a lot of time and imagination trying to invent ideal clients and ideal client attributes, you may be better off letting that idea go for now.
It been my experience in working with clients who have ideal clients who have a specific niche is that it’s freakin obvious. They know it. When I ask a client to describe who their ideal clients are, some people are kind of lost and they’re all over the place. They’re having trouble with it. Others are so precise, they know exactly. And they know exactly, not because they made it up in their imagination. They’re solid because they have experience. Because they’ve worked with clients before, and they rattle off the information so easily that it is a it’s a 10 minute exercise on the phone, where they describe who they are in sufficient detail. They know who buys from them. And often it’s not a single niche or a single market or a single type of client. They will often say things like “I have multiple markets that I serve, I serve this market and this market and this market.” Then they give relevant details about who those people are.
In the very beginning, in a level one businesses, you don’t know. You can’t know. All you can do is guess. But after you’ve worked with enough clients, and you’ve had good clients, and you’ve had not so good clients, this stuff kind of rises up organically and all of a sudden you go Oh, there it is. Those are my ideal clients! They were right in front of me all along, but I didn’t know that until I had the experience. So if it rises up organically for you, it’s easy to answer.
You need to know who is going to buy from you. This is different than looking at a target market, for lack of better terms. This is about knowing who is going to buy from you. And this moves into our thought of the day, which is about future client.
A little bit of magic, maybe a little bit whoo, whoo. That’s okay. A lot of our people are are open to that. But I’m going to invite you just for a few moments to consider something to set aside all the kinds of ideas that you may have about clients ideal clients, target markets, niches.
Let’s think about our future clients.
What do we know about future clients, even the term alone: “future clients” implies some things.
The first thing being that they exist. Your clients exist, they are living and breathing human beings who are on the planet right now. Unless you’re really thinking into the future 20 or 30 years from now and they haven’t been born yet. The people who will be your future clients will be your future clients. That’s why we call them future clients. They will exist in your business in the future.
One of the things that I do in my own business – is I have a yearly tracking sheet, and on one of the pages of that tracking sheet, I list all of my clients. Their names, when they bought from me what they bought from me, how they heard about me. And I add to that list. Each month when I do my monthly review, I add to that list new clients that have shown up and I have this long list.
Every January, I make a new list and it starts with nothing on it. It’s a blank sheet. And I don’t know, four or five years ago, I looked at this sheet and I just realized in that moment, it’s like this sheet by the end of December is going to have names on it. I’m going to know some of the names because I’ve got clients that are continued to work with me clients. But there will be names on this list on December 31 that I don’t know right now. I don’t know who they’re going to be. And…I have faith that they’re going to show up. I’ve been in business long enough to expect that a certain number of clients was going to come into my world every year, those are my future clients, living breathing human beings that are already out there and that are going to buy from me.
When you think about your business and about your future clients – have faith that they are going to be there! If you have a goal for your business of working with X number of clients, you need to believe that they’re out there. If you don’t believe that your clients are out there – if you don’t have faith that they’re going to show up – that if you do the work required to to bring them in to help them show up. Then maybe you need to reconsider being in business!
You have to believe that those goals are possible, that those clients are out there, and that they will show up. This is what we know about them. They’re there.
The third thing I’m going to suggest about your future clients Is that they said, Yes. Your future clients signed up with you. They paid you money. They said yes to your services. Yesterday, we had a comment about nobody wants to get on the phone because they’re afraid it’s going to be a sales pitch. I’m going to suggest that your future clients will be happy to get on the phone, and happy to hear about what you offer because they’re your future clients, because they’re going to say yes.
You do not need to convince them, convert them, trick them, manipulate them, persuade them, you’re not just this is the difference. I think between this idea of imagining who your clients are, and trying to turn everybody you meet into a client, which a lot of salespeople approach sales from that perspective. I’m going to talk to as many people as possible and I’m going to try to convince every single one of them to say yes to my product, that we see that we see products and services and programs called “get everybody to say yes.”
What if instead, you looked at this as they’re already ready to say yes, I don’t have to convince them, convert them, persuade them or anything, they’re ready to say yes, they’re waiting for me to show up. They want what I have to offer. And if you were to believe these things, that your future clients are already out there, that they’re waiting for you they want what you have. You don’t have to convince them or persuade them or anything. How would believing that change your approach to sales and marketing?
Just imagine that you actually took this belief on – if you just sort of sat there for a second, and you’re getting ready to start your workday, and you’re like, I actually expect my clients to show up. I believe that they’re out there. I believe I can take this different approach to sales and marketing. If I create my tracking sheet, I believe those people will show up as long as I do the things I need to do and I’m doing my consistent action. I believe they’re going to appear. Imagine what that would feel like for you.
This is the main thing that changed for me, when I embraced this belief that they’re out there. They want to work with me. They’re going to say, Yes.
I’m gonna go out and look for them. And I’m gonna do stuff to help them find me. And from this perspective, it’s like Okay, anybody that that if we talk about your typical salesperson goes into a networking event and goes, Oh, okay, there’s 20 people in the room, how do I get 20 people to buy from me? versus, oh, there’s 20 people in the room. I wonder, I wonder if any one of those is my future client. Or maybe there’s somebody here that knows one of my future clients. It becomes a different kind of conversation, it becomes a little bit more exploratory. It’s you’re not to use Kevin Knebl’s description: you’re not a pitbull on a postman. You’re not going to attack them and blast your service out to everybody. It’s going to be more of an exploratory kind of thing. It’s like, okay, so I’m searching for them. And when you’re searching for something, it’s really helpful to have clues. Now, here are three things that you already can know 100% about your future clients, here’s three things that are true about them is that your three clues to get going on this search for those people is, you know, three things.
The first thing you know, is that they have a problem that you can help them solve. Otherwise, they’re not going to hire you. They have to have a reason to pay you. And that’s going to be that they have a problem that you can help them solve. And sometimes we can phrase this in a more positive way is to say that there’s something that they want, that they don’t have yet that you can help them get. And I always kind of, because I’m view the world this way. I go, Well, the problem is they don’t have it yet. So but this thing is true. They have no reason. They might be wonderful people. They might be your new best friend. But if they don’t have a problem, you can help them solve, then they’re not going to hire you. They won’t have a reason to hire you. So you can add that to kind of weird list when you think about people who are going to buy from you that this is true. And like Georgee mentioned at the beginning of today’s presentation, the idea that you need to be clear about what that is. And to see it from their perspective, it’s always about seeing it from their perspective, how, what this is the absolute most important thing about marketing ever, is to be able to see the problem that they’re experiencing from their perspective, to use their language to explain about explain it in their own words, to reach them with where they are now. It’s not about you, it’s not about your service. It’s about what they want. It’s about the problem that they’re experiencing. Then we talk more about that tomorrow when we talk about messaging.
Second, they want to solve that problem in the way that you offer it. People have problems and they like to complain, and they like to bitch, but they don’t necessarily want to solve them. A lot of people have problems they don’t recognize or don’t consider problems. And we can look at a group of people, we can look at a specific person, you could, you could go, “Wow, you have a problem and I can fix it, you should hire me.” And they don’t want to, they’re not interested. So that means that they’re not, they’re not one of your future clients, because they don’t want to solve the problem, or they don’t want to solve the problem in the way that you offer. So if you’re selling a course, maybe they want one-on-one, if you’re selling one-on-one, maybe they want to join a group, they might want to solve the problem in a way that you don’t offer. In that case, they’re somebody else’s client. And, you know, maybe you could help connect them to somebody else that could solve that problem in a way that they want it solved. But, you know, anytime you find yourself in a conversation with somebody and you find yourself trying to Convince and Convert and manipulate and try to get them to do something they don’t want to do, that’s a sign that you’re not talking to one of your future clients. You might be talking to someone else’s client, but not one of yours.
The third thing is that they’re ready, willing and able to pay your fee. So they might have a problem you can solve, they might want to solve it, they might want the service that you offer, and they don’t have the money to pay for it. That is a sign that they’re not one of your future clients, because your future clients are going to show up on that tracking sheet with a number next to them that they have paid you.
So these three things we know.
I will even go as far as to say that these are not opinions. these are these are the true things about your ideal client. So think about your future clients, is they hired you for a reason. They wanted to hire you and they paid you, if they didn’t pay you they’re not actually a client. So Those, those three things that we know we know those things for sure. So armed with that information on your search, that’ll get you started.
In terms of your IDEAL clients, right clients, people you’re meant to serve, you’re going to discover that there’s going to be an attraction, a chemistry. You’re going to like them and they’re going to like you. That’s part of it. Especially if you look at the the experiences that you’ve had in your business, if you think about former clients that you’ve worked with. I know for me, I really like my clients. I like my clients, a lot. Part of my past clients, a few of them were there to teach me about what I like about working with clients and what I like to see in a client. So some of them were not a good fit. And I did not enjoy working with them. And that gave me more information. It gave me more clues about my future clients. And there may be future clients, for me that still aren’t a great fit. And the reason I’m going to have those future clients is because I need to learn a little bit more about what my ideal clients – the clients I’m meant to serve – are going to be like. This is how ideal clients emerge organically- you discover that some clients are easier to work with. Some clients are more enjoyable to work with, they get better results. You can serve them better. And you start to notice what those attributes are as you work with clients. And by the time you get into that level two that we’re talking about yesterday, you have enough of this information that you have a few more clues about your future clients are and what they look like.
Having that mindset when you’re actually looking for your future clients and you’re thinking about them as your future client. It makes this whole sales and marketing thing a lot more fun. As someone in the chat also said, especially when I think about them waiting for me, it makes me think I better get busy. I don’t want them waiting for too long for what they need. Awesome. I think that’s so such a good point. Like it also I think that fear of rejection thing kind of goes away a bit because it’s like, it’s okay. They’re just, they’re not my client. I’m on this search looking for them. Like they knew that Pokemon game thing that everyone’s running around looking for the Pokemons like, Whoa, where’s my future client? Where’s my future client?
You know, I shared yesterday about being kind of freaked out about having sales conversations. And I think that that was where I started to see some of this is I realized that I love talking to my clients, like I love like when I have appointments in my calendar to meet with a client. I’m excited about it. I love talking to my clients. It’s a joyful part of my work. And it’s kind of when I thought about the sales conversations, it’s like, okay, at some point, the people who say yes are going to be those clients that I love to talk to, I’m going to want to talk to them, it’s going to be easy to talk to them, it’s gonna be fun to talk to them. We’re going to laugh, they’re going to be nice people. And I made myself a little note, and I stuck it to my monitor. It said “my clients are nice people.” And I brought that into having those sales conversations. It’s like, if the person isn’t nice, if I don’t like them, if it doesn’t feel good to talk to them, then it’s kind of like a wrong number. That’s not my client. And I was okay.
Georgee: when I reflect on my past clients you’re bang on. I really genuinely like every one of them. It’s like your people become like, I know for me and I think for Patty as well, you know, our clients aren’t just clients, they’re not just, you know, the people that pay our bills. We really, really like them. And it’s so fun. We really get excited when they start doing well. And we get those text messages and it’s like, Hey, this is what’s happening. We’re like, Yeah, because they’re more like family and friends, you know, as opposed to just clients. I love getting the text messages too from people who say: “Hey, I’m kind of struggling right now. You have 10 minutes.” Yeah, I do. Right? Because it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. But I think when you when you’re working with those people that you really, really like. Those are the kinds of relationships that you build and it really is it’s that human thing kind of can’t get away from it. It’s just, it’s just embrace it. Embrace the humanity.
And it’s really a nice place to be.
Find the people who believe what you believe in, right?
It’s doing things in the way that really work for you. You’ll hear some people say “I don’t want to let people have that much access to me.” Great. Awesome. For me, I love it. I love it. Send me the message. Let me have it. I it’s great for me. But that works for me. For other people, not so much. Perfect. There’s There’s no right or wrong. It’s really about getting clear about what are you okay with and doing the things that work really well for you.
In terms of messaging – talking about the problems that they’re experiencing, or the results that they’re looking for, is far more powerful than saying that you sell something for astronauts between the ages of 30 and 35.
Question: Do the different groups have the same problem you solve and you market to the different route they take to you? Can you solve different problems?
Yes, if I understand the question correctly, yes. And we’re going to talk about this tomorrow when we talk about the idea of messaging. You’re still gonna want to make your messaging specific But the thing is, you can have 27 different marketing messages out there without having to repaint the sign on your building. Like you don’t have to change your entire business, because you’re going to market to astronauts for a while. You can market to astronauts, but you don’t have to change your business to specializing in astronauts, only astronauts, you know, put pictures of the moon line landing in, in your shop, although that could be really cool. But you don’t have to do that. You can. You can test things. You can experiment, you can put marketing messages out to multiple groups, and those messages can be specific and that’s one of the things about the world we live in now versus the world we live in back in like madman era where if you were going to pay a lot of money for marketing, it was going to reach a large number of people. And the more specific you could make it to the people who want to The people you want to reach, the better off you were. Whereas now, we can get really finely tuned into who we reach, you can get very specific with Facebook advertising, you can search for specific people on LinkedIn and make connections with them. You know, you can reach a very small audience and all your advertising doesn’t have to look the same. It’s not like it’s a 30-second spot that shows up on TV and you get one shot at it. It’s not like that you could make 30-second YouTube videos all day long, and put them out on Facebook and see which one works.
I think for someone like me, who likes variety and fun and novel ideas and things like that, it’s nice knowing that I don’t have to zero in on one specific problem or one specific thing. That feels claustrophobic to me. And yet, it’s also interesting how it all kind of also lies under this umbrella of purpose driven humans, who want to have Have these Heart to Heart connections. That definitely is the overarching thing for for everything I do.
I would extend that to anyone who is purpose driven.
Even if you’re not. It is your values, it’s your personality, it’s your authenticity. All of this is this idea. It sounds kind of lightweight to say that you’re going to like your ideal clients and they’re going to like you. But it’s actually pretty profound. It means you get to be you. Because your future clients will like you. Your future clients will like who you are, you will be enough for them. The way you approach things is going they’re going to be happy with because your clients are happy with working with you So your future clients are gonna be all excited. But you don’t have to change for them. You’re not going to change them. But you don’t have to change you either.
Our future clients like it when I show up on these calls and do demos.
People who say that we giggle too much are
exactly the people that think that super unprofessional. Yeah, yeah.
Oh my god that just came out of my mouth. But it’s like, actually, that’s literally what I would do.
There’s something free and being able to show up as who you are, and you will find the people that that just, you know, believe what you believe and are okay with that. So yeah, and it’s not always the easiest place to be because I think we do get a lot of messages of how we’re supposed to show up and what’s appropriate for business and you know, what Professional looks like and, and so it can be sometimes challenging to, to know that, oh, I can be me. And it’s that when we show up as who we really are, that’s your, you know, unique selling proposition. Really, because no one else in the whole world is you. Yeah.
A lot of times, my clients ask: How do I stand out? How do I stand out from everybody else who does what I do? And I’m like, you’d be more you. It’s like, you turn up the volume on who you are. That causes a little bit of a panic response sometimes because they’re like, Oh, no, I have to be professional. I have to show up in a certain way. I have to talk a certain way. It’s just like, I have to be like everyone else I have to fit it because we have this need to belong and to fit in. In truth, people also want to stand out and it’s like, oh, how do you reconcile those two things?
Question: When you say purpose driven? What does that mean?
Georgee: my definition of purpose driven would be that your purpose is that cause that mission, that belief that you have deep inside your soul that kind of drives everything you do. It’s like this, this lighthouse, this North Star, and for me, it typically means it’s bigger than yourself. And you have something that you want to bring into the world is good for kind of the whole world for all of humanity, it’s something that really is going to make a difference. It’s more other-focus as opposed to to self-focus. And it’s that thing, I think you could definitely put it in there with with passion, because it’s the pull, right? It’s, you’re just you’re so pulled to having to do it. And it is for the good of other people. It’s bigger than you and for the good of others, is kind of my definition of what I think purpose driven is for me.
Patty: I’m going to take a slightly different angle here. For me? It’s incredibly selfish. Seriously. For me it’s about doing the work that I’m here to do. It about me being on my own purpose, following my calling, I have no idea why I happen to show up with this passion or obsession about business and about marketing, and about communication and all of that. But all I know is that I am driven by it internally. It’s like I need to self-express this stuff. I am obsessed with it, I want to share it. I absolutely do want to help people. But my very first kind of place that I’m coming from, is I am internally motivated to do this. This is what I like doing. This is fun for me. I won’t say it’s easy because it’s challenging, but challenge is one of my driving needs. I’m fine with it. But it is in a way very, very selfish.