This is a very serious question for my friends in financial services, “Would you know your ideal client if you met them online?” Seems trivial, right? You’re thinking, “Of course, I would!” Are you really sure though?
I want to walk you through an exercise today and if you’re brutally honest with yourself, you’ll love the outcome. If you’re not, this will be a complete waste of time, stop reading and go watch a cat video like this one.
About three years ago, if you had asked me who my ideal client was, I thought the answer was everyone in financial services. Yep – I went out and connected to everyone and it was my epic fail moment when I realized at the end of a “heavy-duty connecting, talking, selling what I do” year – I still only had a handful of solid clients. How can that be?
Well, this ain’t no Kevin Costner movie
All the coaches and gurus tell you the “Build it and they will come” story. I was so fired up! I was offering services, giving away some stuff, providing value, etc. The passion I have for what I do is almost palatable anyway, yet I can single-handedly tell you the whole Field of Dreams business mantra is crap. You know what I was left saying, “Where is everybody?”
Jim Ash, the founder of Ash Brokerage, is someone I greatly admire and respect. Full Disclosure: Yes, I work for Ash Brokerage. Jim has said to me and many others, “You’ll walk by more business than you’ll ever write” and when I got to the end of my rope that year, I sat reflecting on why I had so few financial service evangelists about social media in those early times. I kept thinking about what Jim said and his words finally hit me…I’m walking by more business than I realize.
I made a decision to only work with certain clients from that point forward: clients I liked, clients who liked me back, and clients who referred others to me. When I sat down and classified all those clients who fit into these categories, sure enough, there was a pattern. Certain traits, niches, etc. came out very clearly. Now, how do I find them online?
LinkedIn was my go-to source. I quickly categorized and tagged these advisor clients and then I got back to work on finding more folks like them!
I drew a stick figure and named him Jo. I kept him gender neutral as my list had the same amount of women and men on it. Jo was a family person, which doesn’t mean they had to have kids, but our similarities in being committed to our family were important to both of us. Jo referred me to other people…like Jo. Jo respected my time on projects and didn’t ask for crazy turnaround times. But the most important trait in this exercise: Jo was open to learning a new skill (like social media), took it seriously and made changes. This trait was the most important one of all to bring me personal joy and satisfaction.
Facebook has been around since 2004. LinkedIn was created in 2002. Google was 1998. This is crazy, right? I don’t want to have to convince anyone in 2016 that social media is hip, funky and fresh. It’s been around forever. All I needed was for the advisor I work with to be open to learning a new skill, took it seriously and made changes in the same direction I was willing to navigate.
By defining “Jo” I now recognize my ideal client more quickly and I’m less likely to walk by them as Jim Ash reminds so many of us. You are probably “walking by” clients online today and not even aware they are your ideal clients. This exercise created a turning point for me.
I would love to hear your comments and ideas. Please reach out and share what practices have worked best for you and let’s see if we can’t emulate this in the online world together.
Be bigger, better and more BIONIC today!
Sheryl Brown | @BIONICsocialite