Ideal Client Conversation
(AKA the loosey goosey creative way of getting to know your market)
If you hate the ideal client/target market exercises that ask you to fill in endless pages of questions and answer things like What kind of toothpaste does s/he use?, then, I’m with you, and you’re welcome to try this method instead.
The whole premise is that you have a conversation with your ideal client and write it as though it were happening live.
Do not think, do not ‘cover all the bases’, do not analyze. Just have a conversation with them as you would if they asked to speak with you about your service.
To start, set the scene. Are you on the phone, Skype, in person, etc? Write out the details.
Then begin the conversation back and forth—asking questions, her answering, sharing etc.
Let it be simple, follow the thread of what arises.
Later, you can dive into more detail if needed, but start here, with a conversation.
This is my conversation with a Message Mentoring Client (unedited, stream of conscious style)
We’re skyping face to face and Cassie pops up on the screen. She’s in her early 50’s with curly blonde/grey hair—undyed. Her face is clear, bright, and the little mascara she wears really sets off her kind blue eyes. She has a wide full smile which surfaces easily. Behind her, the space feels warm. The windows are framed in natural wood and books line the walls. There’s a comfortable leather chair with a purple and red kantha slung over it. She seems comfortable and open.
Me: Aloha Cassie, I’m so glad you reached out and it’s so nice to see you. So tell me, what’s going on?
Cassie: Well Ash, I came across your website, and I’ve been reading your stuff for a while and I just really love your energy. I love the way you come across; it’s like I can feel you through the screen and I want that for my business.
I’ve been in business for a long time, and I’ve been quite successful, but I’m feeling like there’s more of me that I want to put out there. I really want to help people, I want to share my wisdom. I’ve learned so much over the years that I know bringing it to people would really help them navigate some of the obstacles that life brings their way.
I’m not trying to start a new business, or maybe I am, but what I really want to do is deepen the message I have—make it reveal more of my heart.
I want to share more of what I know.
Me: That’s beautiful Cassie, I’m sure you have lots of wisdom to share, nobody’s journey has been exactly the same as yours, so no-one could possibly tell your story the way you do, or share your wisdom the way you can.
What’s your dream or your vision for this deeper sharing?
Cassie: My dream is to write, to really contribute. I love to write, I want to speak. I want to teach—which I do all those things already, but there’s something bigger, a bigger message I need to share. Maybe it’s not bigger, perhaps it’s just more honest.
I think there isn’t enough real in this world, people put on masks, they show up in order to get something or be perceived a certain way, and they’re not who they truly are. But the most powerful change makers in the world are so authentic you can feel it. Like you, I can feel it. Or Oprah, and Liz Gilbert. They’re real, it’s refreshing.
Me: You’re right, there is no substitute for authenticity, and it can be felt in a single written sentence or in a three hour interview. Either way, the authentic ones are the successful ones in the realest sense of the word because they are the happiest ones.
So tell me about what your business looks like now?
Cassie: Well I began, in my late 20’s as a massage therapist. But I’ve since grown that practice to having a studio here in Santa Cruz and another in Marin—they’re yoga and massage studios. I don’t teach there any more, but spend a lot of my time facilitating the weeklong retreats we run up in the mountains 4 times a year. They focus on taking women who are experiencing adrenal fatigue and burnout. We help them recalibrate and recharge, and teach them how to take what they’ve learned into their everyday lives.
It’s really rewarding work.
Me: So what’s the gap now then? Why do you want help deepening your message?
Cassie: Well I really love the retreats, but I don’t love being away from home and all the time and energy it takes to run them. I might like doing two a year, but not 4.
What I really want to do is better tell the story of how LitLotus came to be, who we are now, but also I want to create a new section of the business. Something that people can connect with from anywhere in the world. I’m fanatical about helping women avoid burnout and adrenal fatigue—so much would be better for them if they just balanced themselves beforehand.
Me: Have you already been talking about this? I mean it must have entered your messaging to be running successful retreats each year.
Cassie: Yes, but it’s not true enough. It’s not deep enough, and it doesn’t reach enough people. I’d like to have a program for teenaged girls, so they learn to recognize burnout before it starts. I’d like to have some online programs. Mostly, I want to be more transparent and real about what it looks like and to help them feel like they’re not alone.
I just know there is more inside of me, more of a story, and I want to be the one to share it. Not my marketing team, not my sales team, but me.
This work is my legacy, and right now, even though we’re successful, it doesn’t feel as clear as it should. It doesn’t feel as true as it can. It feels a little stifled, and I want to free this knowledge so that others can benefit from it as well.
Me: If we were to work together, what would need to happen for you to feel like it was an outrageous success? What would it look like?
Cassie: Well, I would have a message that felt like the version of who I am today—complete with the wisdom and ease that I now feel. I would know how to share that message. I would write, and have a plan to create some online programs for those who can’t attend the live retreats. I would feel at ease, knowing that I can express myself, and this desire to contribute isn’t locked in my head or stuck in my throat.
For me, this aspect is my service, because the business will go on whether I change the message or not. It’s working. But I want it to make a deeper difference. Honestly, I don’t care if any of the online programs even make money, I just need to share this with more people.
I’m creative, and I’m willing to do the work, but I just am not sure where or how to start. I have so many ideas and I don’t know how to anchor it—how to make it make sense.
Honestly, I don’t want to die with this inside of me.