You walk into your waiting room and there she is, Mrs. Manning, smiling as you enter. Although she is a client, after all this time a handshake is too formal for her and you greet with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. As you walk her into your office you chat animatedly about her kids, your kids and their latest soccer games. Even as you get down to business the tone is light and truly collaborative. You share a mutual respect but truly enjoy working together. And thanks to Mrs. Manning telling her friends and work colleagues about you, you have been able to grow your practice with new clients. “Why can’t they all be like her?” you wonder, your mind wandering to your last appointment with stuffy old Mr. Donaldson who always seems to suck the very life out of you whenever you meet.
You probably know who your best clients are, and you certainly know the ones you aren’t as fond of. So how DO you clone your best clients and grow your practice around people more like them? And does it matter or is a buck a buck regardless of the source?
Yes it absolutely does matter for a couple of reasons. The first is financial. Your best clients are those who not only are happy to spend money on your services because they value what you are able to provide, but they are also great sources of new business referrals. They do so naturally because they truly believe in what you do and want to share that message with others. The second reason is more subtle yet still important. Your best clients just “get” you. You share common values and ways of looking at the world and you feel a connection. This makes doing business much more pleasant and leaves you feeling energized rather than drained when you meet, in turn making it easier for you to put more energy into the growth of your business.
Here at ZenChange when we work with our clients on a Focus Marketing Plan project, we begin by identifying their Key Truths, or values as a brand, which in the case of a small business, typically matches their values as an individual. We then rank their clients financially and according to some basic business criteria but we also assess how closely those clients align with the Key Truths of the brand. When we arrive at the top clients, we interview them, not to ask for testimonials (although when speaking with top clients this is typically a natural offshoot), but to understand their perceptions of the market, their frustrations, how they want to buy and how they wish to be serviced. This is typically both an enlightening and enjoyable exercise for the practice owner because they are able to communicate with their best clients outside of the typical realm of social exchange and conducting business. They are able to better understand how their best clients think. This approach works equally well for new practices, in which case we identify a set of potentially desirable client profiles and via interviews determine where client interest, willingness to pay and alignment with key truths intersect into market segments.
By understanding how your top clients view the market in which you conduct business, and using this input to develop a set of buyer personality profiles (see “Why ‘Me Too’ Marketing Usually Fails“) you are better able to focus your message in a way that resonates with them, and others like them. Each of your target buying segments should be able to go to your website and recognize something of interest, they should read your brochure and connect with your pitch, and they should find your message in channels that actually influence their buying behavior.
So is this cloning? Well not in the scientific sense, but by truly understanding what makes your best clients tick and building the market segments you target around them into your marketing plan, you are in fact sending out signals that encourage more clients like them to be interested in what you have to say, and to feel a connection to your practice when they visit. With this marketing strategy you are being true to yourself and what your brand stands for and you are building on a foundation that will stand the test of time as it will be the basis for enjoyable business and great word-of-mouth.