by Tony Vidler
Whenever I hear advisers talk about target marketing they seem to think it is an “either/or” choice. One has to be focussed on the ideal client only and ignore everyone else, or alternatively, you have to be focussed on dealing with as many potential clients as possible and give up on the idea of the “ideal”.
I believe that to grow consistently in revenue while also getting to have the practice clientele you dream of that you want at least 2, if not 3, “target market” clients.
You definitely should identify the “ideal client” as this is the type of client that your really like and want to work with, and where you can deliver exceptional value while also being exceptionally well valued. Positioning for these clients and attracting them will be perhaps two thirds of your entire marketing effort. The ideal client profile is the one that all centre of influence and referral generation marketing activity should be focussed upon. It is also the area where specific tactics (e.g. building a network and specialist position using Linkedin) pays the highest dividends.
Maximum effort for maximum reward in other words.
But then there is also the “good client”. For most of us there is a broader market of clients who are fine to work with, and we can deliver good value, and the relationship will be mutually profitable. They just aren’t “ideal” – often because they do not present the future growth opportunities of specific technical advice challenges a professional loves working with. But they are good people with issues that we can help with, and it pays reasonably well.
They are not ideal, but they are good clients nonetheless.
Often these broader-market-segment are producing the bread & butter income for a practice and they are relatively easy to attract in volume and also relatively easy to service. They are good and profitable clients and they are good for your business. They are worth spending a good third of the marketing effort and resources on because they keep everything ticking over and help pay the bills. The only downsides to working with these clients is they often do not present great growth opportunities, and work an adviser is doing with them doesn’t fill one’s heart with joy. It is ok, but it it is not particularly challenging or interesting work.
A possible third segment for many though which doesn’t get talked about too much is a “niche”. A niche is like finding a seam of gold. Often simply stumbled upon, but often too it is a source of great business for quite a while.
Pursuing a niche market isn’t necessarily driven by profitability, or because the clients are ideal. It is often just about pursuing an opportunity – like the miner following that seam of gold there may not have been an intent to dig in that particular direction however it is proving worthwhile as we are finding gold, so we should keep digging until there’s no more there. Rarely does this type of client segment come about from applied marketing effort or dollars; it is usually opportunity-driven and each client tends to lead to other opportunities within that same niche.
There are in reality 2 market segments – or types of clients your should be spending marketing effort and resources on: your ideal targets, and those who are good potential clients. That’s where the money and attention gets directed….but if a rich seam of gold appears in a niche, then pursue that too. Just don’t spend money looking for it.