Hi, I’m Andrea Urquhart. Welcome to The Specialist Studio, my bespoke business mentoring space for therapists and professional coaches growing their consultancy. Today’s article explores how to create your ideal client avatar and why creating an ideal therapy or coaching client avatar will position you to make more focussed decisions in your business and market with greater success.
Your ultimate guide to developing your ideal therapy or coaching client avatar
Once you’ve settled on your niche, you’ll need to define your ideal client. If you’re still struggling with the whole idea of choosing a niche, pop over to my previous blog about niching as therapists and professional coaches. If you’re ready to rock your niche, then let’s get straight on with understanding why everyone talks about getting clear on your ideal client.
An avatar is the general marketing term for someone you are targeting a product towards. It’s important for several reasons for you as a therapist or coach to get micro specific on your avatar. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Your ideal client knowledge helps you target your marketing copy and advertising
- Your ideal client understanding will enable you to create products that are effective and sought after to help solve their specific need
- Your ideal client wisdom will help you develop your expertise as a professional as you continue to grow and develop to meet their needs
- The more you work with your ideal client, the greater an expert you become in helping them. This enables you to establish expert status.
What are the elements you need to reach your ideal client?
You’ll find that virtually every professional agency, from social media ads to logo designers, business coaches and mentors to copywriters, will all ask you to do deep work with them on your ideal client. This is because knowing your ideal client informs:
- Your content
- Your brand voice
- Your brand identity
- How to target your ideal audience
- Your business strategy
- Your products
All of these are built around a deep understanding of who your ideal client is, what they are going through, what their need is, why they have that need, how you can solve it and why working with you is their best option for finding resolution to their problem.
If you can get to know your ideal client so well that you understand their psyche, lifestyle, buying habits, emotional journeys and how they choose who to trust, then you will be able to attract them to your services and they will grow to know, like and trust you as the expert they need.
Each business service provider you work with will go through a similar but slightly different process with you. It has to be said that for many of us, understanding our ideal client deeply enough is a process. This is not only because we begin to realise more about them, but also because we may also tweak or even pivot our niche as we begin to work on this and learn more about ourselves and what aligns best for us as a profitable niche that we are excited and confident about.
Steps to reflect on and identify your ideal therapy or coaching client
Step 1: Know ideal client avatar’s need
I find that this comes first for most therapists and professional coaches. They want to help people who are going through a specific challenge. This is about establishing your broader target market and your broad specialism. Again, you can find out more about target markets, niches and specialisms in my blog on finding your niche.
Step 2: Define who your ideal therapy or coaching client is
Being honest about exactly who you want to work with is this step. What gender are they? At what age does this need typically occur – and if it’s at any age, which age group do you feel most affinity with helping (because people of different ages will look for answers in different places and formats). Are they in a specific profession? What about their education level? And think too, about their personality traits.
Step 3: Understand your avatar’s pain points
This is crucial. You need to know all about their need, why they have it, what it feels like to have it and how much they want to find a solution to it because you are going to be providing the solution and your marketing must to speak right into that pain point (showing your solution) to be super effective.
Step 4: Recognise your ideal client’s journey
To get to a pain point, people experience a personal journey. What is the personal journey of your typical, ideal client? How have they come to be in pain? Try to identify markers along their journey and understand the process of downward spiral they may have been on so that you also understand the challenges they have in finding a solution.
Step 5: Notice and name your avatar’s emotions.
Emotional intelligence is all about recognising and naming emotions, and you need to be emotionally intelligent about your ideal client. What emotions have they been through that got them to their pain point? What emotions are they going through now? What emotions make them reach out for help? How do they emotionally connect with people they accept help from?
Step 6: Understand your ideal client’s fears
Knowing and overcoming objections to working with you are part of winning the confidence of potential clients, so understanding their fears is very important. What are they afraid of in their situation? What do they worry about when seeking help? What are they afraid of if they do find a solution?
Step 7: Delve deeper into your avatar’s psyche
We’ve got to know their emotions, experience and fears, but what goes on in their thoughts. What do they really want? What do they respect? How deeply do they think about things? Do they need lots of time to process things? Are they likely to be quick to make decisions? You might wonder how you can know all these things, but by really understanding their need and their journey, you will already have knowledge about their behaviours and thoughts. Tap into these.
Step 8: Think about your ideal client’s relationships
Is your ideal client lonely or steeped in networks and community? Are they looking for you as the one person to help them or do they have lots of people supporting them? What will they want from you and how easily do they trust? How can you gain their trust and what will make you trustworthy in their eyes?
Step 9: Consider your ideal client’s buying habits
You might need to scoot back to our first two steps and redefine some of their specifics. At what point does your ideal client make a decision to pay for services like yours to support them? What do they need in order to do that? What is their income bracket and what value do they place on different price ranges?
Working on your pricing and the value of your services is a whole piece of mentoring and coaching in itself, and likely something you will grow in as your confidence grows. However, once you understand all about your ideal client, you will notice that they do find the money for the support they want and need when they are ready. Your task is to ensure that you have the right product for them ready and waiting at the right price.
Step 10: Consider your successful ideal client’s future
Once your ideal client has worked with you, what next? What will they gain and how will they change? Would they come back for more support from you at a later stage or for ongoing development? What do they need after success with you and can you provide that in some way? We all know that therapy, counselling and coaching provides results that need to be embedded. What kind of products or support would your ideal client need to help them make the most of the successful work with you on an ongoing basis?
How do you collate your ideal client knowledge into one avatar?
Some people go even deeper than I have encouraged you to in the steps above. They will name their ideal client, tell you what they eat and drink, where they shop and other things that they buy as well as thinking about their emotional experiences and reactions in general. You’ll usually find that social media advertisers and marketing agencies will look at this kind of information because social media adverts can be filtered by this type of information, for example, the types of pages your ideal client would follow on social media.
Generally though, to create your products, your marketing copy and engaging social media posts, you won’t need quite that intensity of detail. But if you want to name your avatar and define what type of tea they have for breakfast and it helps you, go ahead! Certainly, if your niche is in health, this will absolutely be relevant detail as well as if your ideal client is stressed, because our eating habits are affected when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
Collate this knowledge in the way that works best visually for you. You might prefer to doodle or create a mind map. Perhaps you simply write bullet points with the information.
Next, start to speak out and write down definitions of your ideal client. You might say: “My ideal client is in their twenties, they were academically successful at school, from a successful, confident family and feel a lot of expectation on them. She is female, appears socially confident but is actually an introvert who feels awkward in the limelight….” And so on until you get to the pain point that she has. As you describe your typical ideal client’s journey, emotional hurdles and pain, you will come to a specific moment. The moment they reach out for help.
I believe that one of the most important pieces of information you can glean from this work is understanding the moment when your client will seek you out. This is not always easy to do if you haven’t experienced it yourself or observed it in others. However, if you are planning to work in a specific niche and are already experienced and qualified, it’s likely that you have already worked with a client or clients whose experiences you can draw on to understand this.
In fact, if you get your ideal client avatar clear in your mind, you will absolutely attract other clients who don’t fit that avatar exactly as well as ones who do. This is because you will be sharing a clear, strong, defined message in a brand voice that resonates with people. What will almost certainly be the same for nearly all those you attract is that they or someone they love are experiencing that moment – the one where they need to reach out for support. The moment that you clearly speak into and prepare your products for. At that point, it doesn’t matter if they are your exact ideal client or not, they are still a new client for you if you feel they are ready for you to work with them in your area of expertise.
Why understanding your avatar’s pain and defining moments will position you for success
Just as you are hoping that when your clients work with you, you will create a defining, life-changing moment or experience for them, so they have defining moments in their journey to finding you. These fall into two categories: The moments that are connected with their pain and the moments when they began to search for and find you.
Cultivating an understanding of defining events or sequences that typically occur in your ideal clients’ lives will help you build that know, like and trust relationship with them. When you think of your typical client in the niche you want to work with, can you spot common sequences of deterioration or defining events that contribute to the build-up of their need to work with you?
In the same way, think about where your clients will typically hang out and where they are on the look-out for people to solve their pain or will simply be sharing their problems. How will you reach them and connect with them there? If your ideal client is more likely to be hanging out on LinkedIn than Instagram, why wear yourself out trying to build a following in both? More importantly, grow your presence in the appropriate place so that when your client surfs in their moment of pain, they will find you. This is ultimately going to bring you to learning about search engines and search engine optimisation. That’s about organic growth and using your ideal client knowledge to ensure that you are found when your client is looking.
Is going into so much ideal client depth really necessary for my therapy business?
I’m going to point you to my previous blog about niches again to help answer this. The short answer is not if you want to just see how it grows and go with the flow. Then no. Perhaps you have enough organic growth through referrals or you don’t have an urgency financially to finally crossover from working for someone else part time and actually be your own full time boss.
However, if you want to grow your business strategically alongside your expert status, then not only is choosing your niche important, so also is understanding your ideal client. They are, after all, the people you are growing your expertise to help.
Is creating my ideal client avatar a one-time activity?
No, it’s not. As your business develops and you work more deeply in your area of expertise, you’ll find that your avatar will need tweaking slightly, especially in terms of the products you provide. This is because strategically, you will probably need a flow of products that take your ideal client through different steps of transformation. As a consequence, something about their need and level of current breakthrough will be slightly different for each product.
In the same way, if at some point you add another niche to your business strategy, you’ll need to dig down again and define that niche and ideal client avatar. It’s not really a great idea to try to launch more than one niche at a time as this can not only be exhausting, it also splits your messaging between two products and two different types of people and ultimately, your growing network may be confused about what you actually do. Once you’ve established a profitable niche though, it’s not uncommon to add another one, perhaps as your charitable niche. Remember though, that if you’re really going for growing your expert status and making a deeper impact on more people, prioritising just one niche is the smartest use of your time, resources and all-round energy.
However you feel about the process of identifying an ideal client, I encourage you to give it a go. Take time to reflect on what you really want and who you really want to help. Target client avatars are used by so many professionals for a reason. Why not have a go and find out for yourself what a difference it can make to how you strategise and what you create in your business?
If you’d like support with niching and identifying your ideal client, connect with me. I’d be glad to help.
Get in touch with me today if you’d like to know more about how you can grow a flourishing coaching or therapeutic consultancy. I work with therapists and professionals growing their own specialist consultancy and expert status. You can work with me on my signature programme 1:1 or in groups of up to 4 coaches. I also offer monthly mentoring options. Typically, my clients gain clients whilst still completing the programme along with gaining clarity, confidence and a big satisfied smile on their face!
Book a Discovery Call with me here: https://live.vcita.com/site/strengthen
Business Mentor & Coach for Specialist Coaches
Andrea is a full member of the Association of Business Mentors. With professional experience as a teacher and Positive Psychology Coach, she enables mature therapists and coaches transitioning from academia or professional backgrounds to establish and grow a flourishing coaching consultancy.
She’s known for her ability to enable her clients to gain clarity, confidence and clients; growing momentum in their business.
Andrea is based in West Sussex, UK and works primarily online with clients. Her signature programme, Kickstart Your Coaching Consultancy is 10weeks long and available in a small group or 1:1 option.