This article is tagged as buyer persona, ideal client, ideal customer

How creating an ideal client avatar can stop you from working with nightmare clients

March 2, 2020

Trying to build a business is hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you and probably to themselves.

It undoubtedly takes a lot of time and effort and you most certainly need to be self-motivated. But another thing I’ve come to realise is you need to be observant, realistic and shrewd, if you want your business to succeed.

If you’ve been at it for a little while, then you may well know how this story goes.

When you’re trying to establish yourself, you’re pretty much willing to work with anyone and feel compelled to never turn down ‘opportunities’.

I can certainly hold my hands up and say that this was me. I was so desperate to make my business work I would say yes to any job I knew I could do or at the very least knew I could figure out. But you know, this approach does more harm than good, right?

I’ve learned the hard way that all the money in the world does not make up for working with a nightmare client who you just aren’t aligned with. Resentment far outweighs any financial gain and when a client has the power to provoke a physiological response within you, well you know it’s a very poor fit.

But, how do we avoid that knee-jerk, say yes to everything reaction that so often catches us out? How do we turn down work but still feel confident and comfortable that we will be able to pay our bills next month?

I’ll tell you…

We create an ideal client avatar (the easier part) and we learn to say no (the harder part).

What is an Ideal Client Avatar (ICA)?

Note: as with everything marketing related there are multiple terms to describe the same thing. You may see ideal customer avatar, buyer avatar or buyer persona used; they are all have the same meaning. I personally tend to use client when referring to service-based businesses and customer when it’s a product-based business.

Your ideal client avatar is a detailed outline of the type of person you envisage buying your service; the type of person you are passionate about working with and can bring great value to with what you have to offer.

Nailing down your ICA is one of the fundamental requirements of digital marketing because it will shape everything you do going forward. Whether you are focused on social media marketing, email marketing, copywriting, web design or something else marketing related, knowing who your ICA is, what they want or desire, where to find them online and how to speak to them is imperative.

It goes much deeper than just saying your ideal client is female, 40, married with children etc. On the contrary, you have to understand what makes this person tick, what they relate to, what they worry about…

What goes into creating an ICA?

When outlining my own ICAs I like to look at the following:

The Demographics
This is really about outlining the facts, such as age, gender, marital status, children, income etc. It provides a great starting point as you start to build a picture of your ICA in your mind.

The Psychographics
These are going to be the elements that help you understand why your ICA buys. It’s about their habits, attitudes, hobbies and values. Whereas the demographics give you the plain facts, the psychographics helps to add personality to the avatar.

Motivations and Pain Points
This section is all about establishing what your avatar desires and what presents a challenge for them. Really try and dig deep and think what their inner most thoughts may be, or what types of things keep them awake at night.

How to reach them
It’s all well and good understanding who you ICA is and what they do/don’t want, but if you have no idea how to reach them then it’s all a fruitless exercise. From a digital marketing perspective, we can assume they are hanging out online, but where are they? What content are they consuming and on what platform? These are all questions you need to know the answer to.

Mapping out your ICA

For some people, mapping out their ICA is a doddle because they find they are most passionate about working with people who are in the same position they were once in.

Now, I know I personally struggled with mapping out my ICA and so it wasn’t something I did until I found myself reaching burnout and frustration with taking on all of the clients I spoke about at the top of this post.

I found I was resistant to the idea of creating a ‘box’ and having to stay within its bounds (a little like how I felt when I understood that I’d have to niche down – but that’s a whole other story). But the reality is, there are no rules about only having one ICA – you can have multiple if you’d like to.

Also, keep hold of the fact that ‘ideal’ doesn’t mean perfect!

There will be clients that on paper don’t quite check every descriptor. That’s ok – you can still work with them if you choose to. The great thing is, that once you understand what ideal actually looks like for you, you are then afforded the luxury of being able to assess each client on their own merits and say no to the ones that are simply too far away from your utopia.

To help you with this mapping out your ICA, I am sharing the workbook I use to map my ICA out. It’s only a few pages long and will help draw out the key elements to build a picture of who your ICA is.


Enter your details below to get my free, fillable workbook, that I use to map out my ideal client avatars.

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