“I want to work with everyone! I have a wide range of clients that I help with my massage! Why would I narrow that down to just one?”
This is what I hear so often from massage therapists when we first start talking about the Ideal Client – and I totally understand it. On the surface choosing only one client to work with, just doesn’t make sense.
So then why is it deemed so important? Why does every marketer and business coach recommend choosing an ideal client if you want to grow your business?
Let me tell you the story of my ideal client:
In the early days of my massage business, I was so proud of the fact that I worked with a really diverse range of clients. At various times I worked with people who had problems with drugs and alcohol. I worked with the severely disabled, I worked with women offenders, I worked with body builders, professional footballers, office workers, sex workers, runners, children, the elderly…
You get the picture.
I worked with all these people – but did I have a busy, full massage practice?
No. (Did I get a shed-load of experience? Yes- But that’s a separate blog-post!)
The fact was, I was constantly scraping by with only just enough work.
I did the usual – I put flyers up, I did leaflet drops, I did endless free events (this was 20 odd years ago, in the days before social media or websites.)
And then one day, I got sick of the struggle and actually got some help with my marketing. And that’s where I heard about “The ideal Client”.
I heard about it. I thought about it. I thought some more about it and suddenly it hit me.
I didn’t actually ENJOY working with half my clients. A lot of have them had severe challenges that I just had no experience of and couldn’t really relate to.
A lot of the rest, I just didn’t connect with. I wasn’t a runner, I didn’t have children… working with those groups was fine…but I realised it wasn’t totally my bag.
And I realised that I was talking to ALL those people in my marketing. My website was written for ANYONE who might want a massage. How on earth would someone land on my website and know instantly that I was the person to help them?
Suddenly it made sense to have a niche and to work out who my ideal client was.
So I did the Ideal Client work. I really thought deeply about WHO I most enjoyed working with. Who I felt I connected with, who I got the best results with, who I felt the most confident working on.. and I realised something …
My ideal client was someone just like me.
She was a professional woman in her early 30s. She had struggles around anxiety, she often felt stressed and she had general aches and pains. She understood that medication wasn’t always the answer and was interested in the spiritual, including yoga and meditation. She lived in my area. She could afford regular massages. She wanted deep, remedial massage work doing, but still wanted the “spa-like” relaxing vibe.
THAT was my ideal client (and from there, came my niche)
So I learned all I could about my ideal client. I learned how to talk only to her in my marketing.
And my business completely changed.
I got more and more referrals (of more ideal clients!) I got more new clients (and so many of them said, “I chose you because I loved your website – it really described exactly how I feel!”)
And now I charge higher than average prices – because my ideal client WANTS to come to me above the other therapists out there. She feels seen and heard and knows my massage is just what she needs.
And one other thing – having an ideal client doesn’t mean that is my ONLY type of client. I still get plenty of other kinds too, but I get to pick and choose if I want to work with them, or not.
This is why it’s so important to create your massage business around your ideal client and not just have a generic business that is set up for generic clients. As massage therapists, we know that our massage isn’t right for EVERYBODY.
So many therapists fall into this trap of wanting everybody to be their client, but it really doesn’t work. If you try and market to everyone, your messaging will be completely bland, your massage will be bland (how do you tailor your massage so it suits EVERYONE? You can’t!)
Your whole business will be forgettable; lost amongst all the other therapists out there. And worst of all – you’ll spend your days working with clients you just don’t particularly like or understand! Because, let’s face it, without knowing exactly who your ideal clients are, you’re going to attract some less-than-ideal clients, and that’s the last thing we want.
In order to give an exceptional massage experience – you really need to know WHO your client is.. When you’re setting up your treatment space -you need to know WHO you are creating this space for. When you write your marketing communications (website, social media, leaflets), you need to know WHO you’re talking to and WHO you want to attract into your business.
If you’re not clear on exactly who you’re trying to reach, all of your marketing and your website/social media posts etc is likely to be too general and generic. You can’t think what to post on your social media, because you feel like you’re talking to a whole range of people.
If you can imagine that you’re talking to just one person. Writing and communicating becomes so much easier. You simply ask yourself, “will my ideal client want to hear about this?” and you can answer that question straight away.
You need to choose your ideal clients then build your business around them.
Without this it becomes incredibly difficult to target your marketing in any strategic way, and therefore you end up having to use a scattergun technique where you just hope something sticks.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
So how do you do it? What should you look for in your Ideal Client?
Here’s some ideas:
Look closely at your present clients and see which ones you particularly love working with. Write down all the ones who:
You enjoy massaging
You can be yourself with
You feel a connection with
You feel confident when you are treating
You feel pleased when you see their name in your appointment book
You know they love your work
You get great results with them
These people are probably your ideal clients.
When you’ve identified 3 or 4 of those – see if there’s any common denominators between them. What do they have in common?
See if you can narrow down these common denominators to start creating a picture of your ideal client.
Here’s some questions to help you:
Gender – Do you prefer working with women? Or men? Or a different gender identity?
Age – do you resonate best with a specific age-range?
Location – are your favourite clients from a specific place or area?
Occupation –do they have a stressful job and want to relax? Do they work at a computer all day and have sore shoulders and neck or RSI?
Interests – while interests might be relevant because you might work with runners or cyclists for example, it’s also useful to know more about your ideal clients’ interests because that can help you communicate better with them.
It allows you to talk to your clients in a language they understand, using references that will resonate strongly with them.
Struggles – what are they struggling with in their daily life? For example; pain, lack of sleep, headaches, feeling like they have no time for themselves etc
Why do they come to YOU for a massage – instead of the therapist down the road? Maybe it’s because you are highly skilled in dealing with their physical problems. Or maybe it’s because you do a more gentle massage that allows them to really relax. Maybe it’s nothing to do with your massage style and more about the fact that you’re a good listener, or you love to chat. What do they really need that you provide?
It can even be helpful to create a negative avatar, a representation of who you don’t want as a client. Think of past clients that maybe came once and didn’t return, or clients that you wish wouldn’t return, or clients who didn’t get the results they wanted from the treatments. Remember all the details. Why was that person not a good fit for you?
Identifying who you don’t want as a customer can be helpful in determining who you DO want!
Note that you can eventually have more than one ideal client. It’s likely that there are characteristics that you want all your clients to have, but then you might have different ideal clients for different services and treatments you offer. That’s ok. What’s important is you know the struggles and desires of each ideal client individually and you speak to ONLY ONE in your marketing copy. Focus on (and master) just one ideal client at a time.
OK – I KNOW MY IDEAL CLIENT. NOW WHAT?
You’re going to specifically call out your ideal client in your marketing copy. Make it really clear who you work with.
You can either outright say or just allude to the characteristics of your ideal client. Make sure it’s reflected in your brand imagery — if you work with women, don’t use pictures of men in your website. They need to see themselves and recognise that you can help them.
When you’re describing how your service or product can help your ideal client, use the exact words and phrases that they use to describe their problems and desires. It makes them feel like you totally get them. And when someone feels like you get them, they trust that you can help them… and they’re much more likely to book with you.
When you really KNOW your ideal client you can now target your marketing a lot more efficiently. Instead of talking to ‘anyone’ you can start addressing ‘someone’. You’ll be able to talk to them in a language they understand, using platforms that they frequent, and address the specific issues or beliefs they have.
Good! Now off you go and do the Ideal Client work 😉