How to Attract Your Ideal Customers (Create Your Own Recipe)

How to Attract Your Ideal Customers (Create Your Own Recipe)

Admit it. You work pretty hard to find new clients.

You network, advertise and (gasp!) maybe even cold-call.

Sometimes you feel like a hamster on a wheel: going nowhere fast.

It’s hard enough to run a small business. You’ve got to take good care of your existing customers, manage the money, figure out the technology, set the goals and then…what?! You have to do the marketing and sales, too?

There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get it all done, right? (Believe me, I feel your pain.)

Wouldn’t you love to have those new clients seek YOU out, instead?

Guess what?

They already are. 

Every day, thousands of people are searching for just the right person with just the right answer to their big problem.

They’re asking their friends, family and colleagues for a referral. Or they’re wearing out the Google button on their computers, looking for someone just like you.

So why aren’t you connecting with them?

Probably because you aren’t telling the right story, using the right words, or just plain BEing your most fabulous self.

If you want to attract your ideal customer, you need to know that person inside-and-out.

You also need to really know your self.

Here’s an important question to ask: What kind of customers am I attracted to working with? 

What kind of clients and projects give you the most joy? What causes, missions, hobbies, passions do they have? What makes them want to get out of bed in the morning?

One of the mistakes I see a lot of folks make is choosing a particular target market or niche only because they think it 1) will make them a lot of money; or 2) is what they have experience in so it must be right. (These considerations should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.)

So here’s your assignment*:

Think about one or two customers you’ve had in the past that you really enjoyed working with. Got that mental picture? Good.

Now, make a list of all of their personality characteristics and qualities.  This could be things like:

  • How they like to make decisions
  • How risk-averse or friendly they are
  • How comfortable they are with technology
The idea is to write down as much as you possibly can. Aim for at least 100 items on this list. Keep writing until you feel like you’ve exhausted what you know.
snowflake cookies

Every business is unique — don’t try to hide it!

Next, add to the list things like:

  • What they do in their spare time
  • Who they hang out with (clubs, churches, organizations, etc.)
  • What kind of job they have
  • What causes they’re passionate about

Include as much detail as you can. (This should be easy since you’re thinking about actual people.)

We’ll call this list your ideal customer profile (aka ‘the persona‘).

Okay – now for the fun part. Go back through the list and make a check mark next to every item that you feel also describes YOU.

What did you find?

Do you have a lot in common with this ideal customer?

My money is on YES.

Mostly because it’s a well known fact, that people like to do with business with people they like. And people usually like other people who are a lot like them. (And all that ‘liking’ has nothing to do with Facebook, but it IS a crucial component to nailing your marketing.)

Now for the tricky part.

Quit trying to please everyone.

Yep. You heard me.

I’m a big people pleaser myself, but I can tell you that there’s a bazillion pieces of evidence out there (some even documented by scientists) to show that it’s just not possible.

We’re all different. It’s what makes the world go ’round. Embrace that fact and you’ll be on your way to Marketing Heaven in no time.

Everybody always thinks their products and services would be great for everyone. That everyone could use them. Benefit from owning them.

But the reality is, we all want different stuff.

And since you will totally fail if you try to please everyone on the planet, you need to just give that up and work on being exactly who you are.

Dig a little deeper. WHO are you? What stuff do you love to do in YOUR spare time? What are you passionate about? What would you do with yourself if you didn’t have to earn a living?

Those answers are clues.

Clues to creating a brand for your small business that reflects your heart and soul.

And for creating a brand that will attract exactly the right customers.

When you get specific like that, your messages get really clear. And clarity (as we all know) is power.

Clarity allows you to focus. Which, in turn, helps you communicate in a more confident way.

Your ideal customer is then better able to find you and connect. Your messages are literally music to their ears.

This doesn’t mean you stop marketing.

It just means you don’t have to work so hard.

Make yourself visible, yes. Network, yes. But do it in the right places, and at the right times: where ever (and whenever) your ideal customers are.

If your ideal customers don’t do Facebook, then guess what? You don’t need to, either.

And if they prefer to connect offline in the real world, then that’s where you should be.

Make it easy for them to find you, and they will.

And make yourself as attractive to them as possible.

If you do, you can spend more time working with them as a customer, than chasing them down as a prospect.

*I first learned about this exercise from the book, “Attracting Perfect Customers.” It’s a great read!


This post is part of the September Word (blog) Carnival on Finding and Working with Your Ideal CustomersClick here to read more fabulous advice on the topic. Then join us for a Twitter Chat on Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m., Pacific. You’ll find the carnies tweeting with #WordCarnival.







  • Anonymous

    I always cringe when I hear people say everyone is their target market.  Being a people person also, it was hard to let go of the idea that everyone would think I’m the cat’s meow as  I developed my own unique voice.  Its narrowed my focus AND boosted my bottom line.

    • Tea Silvestre

      Well, *I* think you’re the cat’s meow, Nicole. And your unique voice is what made me want you on the team. :-)

  • Anonymous

    What a great read and such specific actions…I love the clarity that comes off as you read this post…gettin’ ready to share!!!

    • Tea Silvestre

      Thanks Michelle!

  • Annie Sisk

    Oh holy tacos, Tea, YES. I am SO on board with this whole “be YOU’ thing. ‘Cause for all the talk about branding, when you’re a solo biz chief, your brand is YOU, especially if you’re selling your services. Once I gave up the whole “be like everybody else” thing, a funny thing happened — I started attracting the right kind of attention from the right kind of folks. (Hmm. “The right kind of folks.” As in Ideal Clients, maybe?)

    • Tea Silvestre

      Some day, you’ll have to tell me how you came up with your brand (PJ Productivity). I’d love to hear that story. But um – YEAH – you being yourself is what attracted me to YOU. So it also works for ideal colleagues and strategic partners…really, ANY relationship you want to create.

  • Eugene Farber

    Hey Tea, I think one of the biggest take-aways from this is “stop trying to please everyone.” I think a lot of people have that problem. Trying to be liked by everyone, and pleasing everyone, seems like it would be a great idea to get more business. But by trying to please everyone, you please no one. Go figure… :)

    • Tea Silvestre

      Exactly! Some of us have a harder time doing that than others. It took me almost 40 years to figure that out. Plus, it’s good advice for your whole life — not just business.

  • Sharon H. Hall

    Love the idea of approaching it from this perspective, Tea, and choosing the people who most appeal to you. It’s also wise to be where your customers are, as you suggest. Great tips!

    • Tea Silvestre

      Thanks Sharon!

  • Rochelle

    I loved this post. Thank you Tea :-)

    • Tea Silvestre

      You’re welcome, Rochelle! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Julia Hayes

    This is a totally positive, zingy, encouraging push to people like me to get out and DO it – have confidence in yourself as a brand. Loved reading it. 

    It’s very inspiring and practical at the same time. You know what works best for our local marketing of our furnished offices? A large signboard outside the building. But thanks to your teaching via the TestKitchen Forum we’re getting more interstate and international enquiries via the website. (Do you think its just coincidence?) Interstate companies are asking for larger spaces. We might have to expand.Once I started to see potential clients as individuals with problems rather than inanimate companies, things changed. 

    I find the advice in this post is terrific. Between you and Stella I think I’ve been given permission to let Twitter go. My customers definitely don’t use it. But I suppose there’s value in tweeting your latest post to alert Google that it’s out there – and  re-tweeting other people’s content? 

    • Tea Silvestre

      Yes – you definitely have permission to let Twitter go. If your people aren’t there, I would say spend that newly found extra time on something that will bear real fruit. For you, that could be taking a walk around the office and saying hi to each client. Or writing a handwritten thank you note. Everyone’s business is different. Isn’t that fabulous?

  • Clare Price

    I love the advice about being yourself for your client so you can serve them with knowledge and integrity. And creating a brand that reflects your heart and soul so that your work and words are music to your clients ears. Great wisdom here. 

    • Tea Silvestre

      Glad you enjoyed it, Clare.

  • Stella | Get More Buyers

    2 key lessons I picked here: (i) main reason why one’s Ideal clients are not finding us is because we do not know them well enough and (ii) quit being a people pleaser.

    Thanks, Tea, for bringing clarity to the topic of “finding our ideal customers”. Great post, as always.

    • Tea Silvestre

      Glad you enjoyed it, Stella!

  • Nick Armstrong

    “2) is what they have experience in so it must be right”

    Grumble grumble… Web Design. I absolutely hate doing it (and it’s made 100x worse when you land a client whose expectations can’t be managed), but the clients love it, it makes bank, and I’m wicked good at it.

    I don’t know why I keep coming back to it, but it sure does help in a pinch.

    • Tea Silvestre

      Dude – if you HATE doing it, but you’re really good at it, maybe you can transition from the technician role to a consultant role? We should help you brainstorm this in our next posse meeting.

  • SandyMc

    Hi Tea, I left your delicious post to last.  Really the icing on the cake of this month’s blog carnival to take the cooking analogy as far as I can :) !

    Firstly, if I can just comment on the whole carnival, it has been an enriching experience absorbing everyone’s post in order to contribute meaningfully to the dialogue, which in itself has been revealing.

    Every post was so different and had something really valuable to offer.  I think this will just keep raising the bar, which is an exciting slash nerve-wracking challenge to have! Thanks to you Tea, for hosting it as you do.

    Being you – not seeking to please everyone. 

    Just a great message to take out for this month.   And also the challenge to write a list of a hundred things about your clients that you like until you get very clear about who they are and what correlates with you.  I wonder if in doing it you might also reveal the hundred little things you can do to further build your relationships with them!

    Perhaps we should all be tasked with going through each other’s posts and selecting three-five things we are going to implement this month and then report back?  Like profiling your customer in 10 words or less, writing your list, working out which social media suits us best, getting rid of the jerks, (by finding them first LOL!)  Figuring out which 20% of your clients delivers 80% of your business, making sure we have a clear call to action on our website etc. 

    • Tea (the Chef)

      I think you’re right, Sandy – taking action on all of our good advice would certainly be good practice, at the very least. I’m going to put this on my list of things to accomplish to this week…and I’ll check in with you to see how you did, too.
      Thanks for being such a great team member!

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  • Anita

    Thank you for your very helpful post Tea, it is really interesting, and also inspiring to spend time really considering who you are speaking to.

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