A few months back, I wrote a post in which I compared the marketing of a professional services firm to the marketing of a retail store. In that post, I wrote about the retail storefront and how it’s designed to offer utter simplicity about what the retailer sells and how it’s designed to attract one very specific consumer that the retailer values greatly. I believe that few professional services firms are this clear and specific in their marketing efforts, but all should be. In fact, I believe any professional services firm, no matter how specialized or how broad, should be capable of answering this simple question with utter clarity: What client do you want to walk in the door today?
Selling Bath Soap
I’m going to digress for a moment with another retail story. Well over a decade ago, a good friend of mine worked in the marketing department at Bath & Body Works. If you’re not familiar with Bath & Body Works, it is a multi-billion dollar retail concept that sells exclusively products for the bath and body. Pretty clear, huh? What I found exceedingly interesting at the time was how laser focused the company was in describing it’s ideal consumer. In fact, the company had gone so far as to give her a name, Kate. Kate had an office at corporate headquarters, she had a dog, she had hobbies, interests, income, activities, motivations, needs and wants. For all intensive purposes, she was a living, breathing person (only she didn’t know it). This laser like focus on the company’s ideal consumer was growing the retailer’s business by leaps and bounds. This was my first exposure to consumer personas and in the last 15 years I’ve never found a professional services firm capable of producing much, if any, clarity about their ideal client.
A Client Persona for a Professional Services Firm
I’m not so sure you need to go as far as Bath & Body Works in bringing your ideal client to life within your walls, but I do think it’s a critically important exercise to be crystal clear and laser focused about the single most high value client you could attract to your firm. So, what should a client persona for a professional services firm look like? At minimum, I think you should be able to answer all of the following questions off the top of your head about the ideal client for your firm:
- What industry they’re in.
- How much revenue they derive.
- How profitable they are.
- How experienced they are organizationally in working with a firm like yours.
- How much they typically spend (or could spend) with a firm like yours in a single year.
- 2-3 specific business needs they have right now that your services are capable of addressing.
- The role and experience level the buyer of your services fulfills within the client’s business (be realistic, it’s not always the CEO).
- The typical challenges and frustrations experienced by that buyer.
- The stage that buyer is within the buying process.
You could probably produce a list that is over 100 points long, but this short list functions as a pretty good baseline. A firm that can answer all these questions with clarity has a huge competitive advantage over 95% of firms in the marketplace because when the ideal client shows up, not only do they recognize them (many firms don’t) but they know exactly what they need to do to secure that client’s business. In a future post, I’ll offer advice on how to translate your client persona to your marketing activities.
Have other suggestions to build your client persona?