How to (Finally) Identify Your Ideal Customer

Q&A With Lisa: How to Identify Your People

A question from Cathy, owner and lead designer at

I’m struggling with identifying a common ground around what makes people MY clients beyond the obvious that they a) love my design and b) can afford our prices. I also know that they are generally on the 3rd version of their website.

This is an awesome question that I know many business owners struggle with, and I’m thrilled that Cathy has agreed to put her own business in the spotlight so we can walk through the decision-making process with a concrete example in mind.

We’re going to look at three main determining factors for honing in on your very best people:

Where are they in their customer journey?
Who will value and embrace your style or approach?
Who cares about what you care about?

1) Let’s talk about the customer journey.

Cathy already has some great insight because she knows that her best clients are typically on the 3rd version of their site. Do you see the beautiful specificity there? That alone helps her call out to a very targeted group of people.

But knowing their place in the “customer journey” also gives us additional clues as to the kind of person she might be dealing with — because it isn’t every type of person that can stick it out in business and get to that level.

… It could mean that they are high achievers, go-getters, or the leaders in their industry.
… It might mean they are fully invested and see what they do as their calling or a personal legacy.
… Perhaps they’re all-in with business the way they’re all-in with everything in life.

As you can see, there is always going to be an element of guessing or jumping to conclusions here, and it might feel a little bit arbitrary sometimes. Don’t let that scare you off. Know that a) we can always test this language and hone it down to the stuff that really resonates, and, b) whether these are the absolute “best” identifiers for her people or not, they are going to be much more effective than staying generic and broad!

Have you thought about the process or journey that your own customers go through?

Every type of business has some kind of corresponding journey for its customers — think about the process of getting married, or having a child, or starting a business, or even just stepping into your own personal style.

At which point in that journey are you the right choice?
And is there anything more you know about that person because of where they are?

2) Who will most value and embrace your style or approach?

List out the things that are an important part of your approach in business, and then flip them over into the personality types that would value or need them.

For example, Cathy is committed to doing custom work for her people — so what kind of business owners would value that? I’d suggest they might consider themselves originals, creatives, or design-conscious business owners.

Since she offers design services, Cathy should also consider the kind of brand personalities that would most relate to and embrace her aesthetic. To me, her style seems a strong fit for brands seeking a look that is feminine, fresh, playful, and a little bit particular.

Do you see how identifying a few cornerstones of your approach can help you land on your best-fit customers or clients? Give it a try!

3) Who cares about what you care about?

You’ve probably heard me sing the praises of this question before, because it is a total power question for finding a strong-fit audience.

Brands are about connecting over conversations, and those conversations are rarely going to be limited to what you’re actually selling. That’s why it’s important to attract a community that will stick around and enjoy the other things that you have to share as well.

So you want to tap into some of the things that you care deeply about in your own life or business that you’d love to connect over with your audience.

A big piece of Cathy’s philosophy shows up in her name, Love-Inspired, so let’s run with that. Who would eat up her heart-led message? She might find her sweet spot targeting people that consider themselves dreamers, softies, do-gooders, idealists, and/or intuitives. One thing is very likely: her best clients didn’t create their businesses just for the money.

Can you see how the conversation with her community can become so much richer by talking directly to these people?

Your turn: What kind of people are most likely to share your passion topics and personal values?

Narrow it down, and test it out.

Going through these three big questions will give you a big list of character traits and identifiers to choose from. Your customers might be all of those things, but it’s still a great idea to narrow it down so you can be known as the go-to person for a few of these niches.

That’s your final step: Choose 2-3 key identifiers and start using them as “flags” to call out to your most perfect people.

Stick with it! Nothing beats doing business with only the best-fit people.

Share the Clarity!