Ideal clients: your guide to defining them the HR way

Let’s be clear – you can support a variety of businesses with your HR services. That’s true. You’ve also been told to create an ideal client before. But the whole “write a detailed avatar of someone’s name, age, and inside leg measurement” approach, doesn’t work for you. Well, good news, there’s a different way to think about your ideal client – it’s the HR way.

Targeting your marketing at everyone is a guaranteed way to make sure no-one’s paying attention. Think about it. You’re walking down the street and someone shouts “Hiya”. How likely are you to look up from your phone and realise they’re talking to you? Not very, right? But what happens if that generic call changes to “Hi Louise” (or whatever your name is)? Chances are, you’ll at least lift your head and see if you recognise the person speaking.

That’s exactly what you need your marketing to do. You want your potential clients to realise you’re talking to them. Once you’ve got their attention, then you can start a conversation. So, let’s talk about how to define your ideal client in three simple steps.


Step 1: Work out who your ideal client isn’t


Our brains are wired for the negative. It’s an evolutionary thing. Historically human focus has always been on threat, risk, and on how likely it is there’s a huge lion hiding that tree ready to kill you. Now, while that can be really unhelpful in some cases, when it comes to finding your ideal client, it can help.

Ask yourself who you don’t want to work with.

There’s a good chance you’ve met them already. Perhaps they’re a former client. Someone who made your life hell because they were disorganised, disrespectful, a bully, or any number of other traits.

Write it all down.

Work out the reasons why you hated working with that person. What was it about them that made you vow “never again”?


Step 2: Understanding your own values


Take a look at the list you created in step one. What are the common themes? Quite often the answer here is it goes against your personal values.

When I do this exercise with clients, the least-favourite clients have all either broken an unwritten rule, or pulled right up close to it and been ready to take the next step.

So use these thoughts and feelings to describe your values. What is really important to you? Some of your best clients are going to people who recognise and share those values, so you need to know what they are.

Are you the type of person where openness matters? You need a relationship which is built on mutual understanding, not on being devious towards the other person. Are you a collaboration over competition person and what does that mean to you?

The more clearly you’re able to define your values, the easier it becomes to explain your ideal client.


Step 3: Naming your ideal client the HR way

It’s ok, I haven’t gone back on my word. You don’t need to start listing height, weight, and favourite shoe shop. Rather, start describing your ideal client in terms that make sense to you.

Most of the HR consultants I work with don’t focus on Helen who’s 35, with a 6-year old Labrador and a 10-year old son. They home in on the type of person they want to work with.

They describe the behaviours and attitudes of their ideal client. How do they treat their people? What’s their view on the role of HR in the business? How much risk are they willing to take? What do they appreciate about an independent HR consultant versus using a larger corporate offering.

This is the HR way of defining your ideal client. It’s people and values focused. It’s based on your real experiences and understanding of the people who get the most from working with you. (And, best of all, it has nothing to do with plucking a random character out of thin air).


Getting yourself unstuck

For some people, explaining a different way to identify your ideal client is all you need. You’ll take that three-step process, scribble some notes, and BOOM! One ideal client in the bag.

For others, even with a different approach, you’ll find this process tough. When that happens, it’s generally for one of two reasons:

  • You’re only just starting out, so you haven’t had the experience of a rubbish client yet (the bad news is you’ll get at least one, we all do. The secret is getting rid of them and then learning how to avoid them in the future)
  • You’re looking to change the direction of your business and you find it hard to break away from how you’ve marketed yourself up to now.

Both are perfectly normal, and very, very common. So, send me a message, and let’s get you booked in for a free chemistry call to start getting you unstuck.