If you just read the title of this post, you are probably thinking...."Well, I'm a wedding photographer so my clients obviously need great wedding photos from me," or "I'm a graphic designer so my dream clients need balanced, clear brand design." And you'd be right, both of you, except.........what your dream clients actually need is THE THING that is motivating them to specifically hire you to take those great images or make that gorgeous design.
It's your Brand Advantage. The reason behind why they are drawn to you and your work. The thing that makes you special.
In my, nearly, two decades as a photographer I have seen countless very skilled photographers who have had to close their businesses because they didn't invest in truly understanding their dream clients needs. These professionals were counting on the quality of their work and the strength of their personality alone to sell their work to prospective clients. They didn't know who they were meant to serve or how to authentically serve them.
And it cost them, big time.
Friendlies, I don't want that to happen to you. That's why I'm giving you these:
3 tips to figure out what your dream clients actually need from you (so you can ensure your business beats the odds and is around for a LOOOONG time):
1. Do the research.
Chances are you know people who are totally your tribe. Why not use them as a case study? Are you making assumptions about your clients? How well do you truly know them? If you had to paint a picture of their lives, their passions, their style, their values, their favourite activities or restaurants, could you?
During the coaching phase of my work, I ask my clients to identify 3 dreamies of their own and to ask questions that will help them to understand their needs and wants better. Does knowing their favourite restaurant help you sell your services to them easier? Maybe, maybe not, but the more information you know, the more points you can connect with them on, the more they see you as the right fit for them.
Not sure what to ask?
Not sure what your people want? Dig in and start asking them! Which takes me to my next point.....
2. Ask Better Questions (and ask them first)
This one seems obvious but most creatives I know ask the same general set of questions from prospective clients. Have you considered what the things you ask actually SAY about you? Your questions need to match with the type of clients you are seeking. If they are boring and repetitive, your clients might think you are too. (the horror!)
If you want to attract clients who are madly in love romantics, why not ask them about the most romantic date they've had? If adventurous hippy travellers are your jam, why not ask them which vegan shoes they find the most comfortable for walking around India? Okay, I'm being a little cheeky with that last one :-) still........
Asking these types of more personalized questions let's your clients know exactly the type of person you are looking to work with. It qualifies those who can identify with your questions and builds the type of trust that leads to a booking. (woot woot!)
Sure, you should ask the basics like what, when and where but when you lead with questions like, "How would you describe your fiancee to a stranger?" or "What do you want people to know about your family?" You are acknowledging the deeper motivations that subconsciously determine the products they buy and the services they hire.
3. Listen like a Boss
Doing client research and asking great questions is going to make a significant impact on your ability to connect with your target clients but if you don't have ears to hear, it's all worth nothing.
The most successful people know how to listen to what is said and what is unsaid. They know when to dig deeper past someone's initial answer to get to the good stuff underneath. That takes some serious listening skills to truly understand what people are telling you. To get their WHY.
So the next time a prospective client says, "I just want some family pictures done," take the time to ask what prompted them to feel like they need pictures done now?. Ask them what they feel when they look at pictures of their family? Ask them about their most treasured picture and why it means so much to them? Ask them what their dream photoshoot would look like? What would it feel like? Why do they want to feel that way?
And when you do ask, listen well and I guarantee you will have a much richer understanding of what your dream clients actually need from you.