Don’t waste time on bad clients

snake-oil

The best marketing strategy ever: CARE – Gary Vaynerchuk

In an earlier blog post, I explored some of the reasons why practices need to start thinking about the segmentation of existing clients and the role that this can play in helping you convert, onboard, inform, upsell and cross-sell to your existing clients.

Linked to segmentation, the next thing we need to consider is attracting clients to the firm and more importantly the right kind of clients; but what do your ideal customers look like – Are they in a particular industry sector, have a turnover between x and y?

Having a clear definition of your ideal buyer profile can have a profound impact. It helps you identify prospects in a particular niche, but also a process whereby you can review any clients that are ‘falling short of the mark’. You can then persuade to pay more for services, or that they may need to be politely exited from the firm as they are becoming toxic; no one likes to think of losing customers, let alone sacking them, but giving certain clients their ‘freedom’ can have an additional benefit – improving staff morale.

Why create an ideal client profile?

Without an ideal client profile, you are missing the opportunity to engage the right audience, with the right message, at the right time. Sadly, this has become the default for many practices and deploying a broad ‘scattergun’ approach to your marketing and communications in the hope that something – dare I say, anything sticks; I’m sorry but hope, is not a method.

Practices historically have generally, only ever, categorised their clients as A, B, C, or D with A’s being those clients that are paying us the largest fees, or have potential, have been loyal over the years or maybe are just amazing clients you love to work with. D’s however, are always the clients that pay late constantly, moan about everything and aren’t nice to deal with.

While this is a good starting point, it’s limited in scope and I believe is in most cases, two-dimensional at best.  We need to think more broadly and look further to get a more robust accurate view.

How can I start creating an ideal client profile?

One of the best ways in which you can start to think about your clients is to use a Venn diagram (see image below) I prefer to use a minimum of three criteria or ‘rules’ as this narrows your focus slightly more.  These rules define for example how technology centred the client is, are they adaptive to change? What are they like personally – do we think we will get along. You can go quite detailed in this exercise.

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An example worksheet can be downloaded here IDEAL CLIENTS

Within each section, break this into to another three or four additional criteria and then elaborate more on each of them. For example in technology will they be open to using cloud solutions such as Xero or Quickbooks?  Will they be able to use Receipt Bank?  If we are considering how adaptive to change the client is, consider are they willing to work with us on advisory services? Are they focused on profitability or growth?  If we are looking to develop a strategy around a vertical market or niche – do they fit that niche?

Go a stage further – create client ‘personas.’

The easiest way to think of ‘personas’ beyond a client profile is that you are creating a fictional representation of the needs, goals and observed behaviour patterns of your current and potential customers.

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Hubspot provides some useful insights on how to do this in a few simple steps, and you can even get a persona development worksheet for you to get started.

You can also find more information on targeted marketing and buyer personas in this infographic here.

Creating customer personas helps you model a standardised process in your practice which everyone can understand and follow, you need to think of scalability here. Ultimately, identifying these characteristics ensures a good fit for both you and the client. Sadly, not all clients are created equal. Therefore, you need to bear this in mind when creating and executing your marketing strategy.  You have a wealth of data at your fingertips, time to now put that data into action.

If you don’t have a marketing strategy or you want to sanity check your current one – you could consider reaching out to Karen Reyburn of The Profitable Firm or Matt Wilkinson of BizInk.

One final thought……While I may have a natural tendency to position this as a process for accountants and accounting practices; there is absolutely no reason why you can’t have the same conversation and implement a similar process for your clients’ businesses.

If you have any questions about marketing strategy, client segmentation and profiling and how we can make this work for your practice, please do feel free to drop me an email darren@wekandoo.co.uk or give me a call on 07557 441 045.

“It is important to note that while goods are consumed, services are experienced.”
David H. Maister, Managing The Professional Service Firm

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