Raise your hand if you’ve worked with a client that you knew wasn’t the right fit, but you felt that you had to take them onboard anyway…
Yep, me too!
Regardless of what field of work you’re in, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that in order to be successful, private practitioners need to cast their net as wide as possible.
But there’s a way around this:
Focusing on a specific group of clients can be a huge step towards success for many private practitioners and small business owners.
We’re going to show how you can identify your ideal client.
- What is the difference between a “niche” and an “ideal client”?
- Why is this so important for my private practice?
- How can I start identifying my niche and ideal client?
- Once I know my ideal client, how do I learn more about them?
- How do I start to attract my ideal client?
What is a “niche” and what is an “ideal client”? And what’s the difference?
Let’s first take the time to clear up some of the confusion you might have around the terms “niche” and “ideal client”.
The two terms sound quite similar but they do actually refer to different concepts, so it’ll be helpful if we quickly cover some definitions:
A “niche” refers to a chosen specialisation or a focus on a particular set of potential clients, services or problems within your overall realm of capability.
Let’s say you’re a psychotherapist in private practice. You might be trained in general Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but from your experience, you realise that you have the most success with clients who are dealing with sleep issues. So instead of working with anyone who could benefit from CBT, you might narrow your niche down to only working on sleep-related concerns.
Your “ideal client” refers to a specific subset of clients within your niche that you identify as most ideal for your specific circumstances.
These are usually determined by:
- a) who you can provide the most value to and
- b) who can provide the most value to you.
Let’s take another look at our example.
You might come to find that you have a particular passion for helping new mothers who are struggling with sleep disturbances, postpartum insomnia and depression.
Working with this specific subgroup of clients brings out the best in you as a therapist and that’s why you decide to focus on them, over anyone else struggling with sleep-related concerns.
Why is the ideal client so important for my private practice?
If you have been asking yourself why these concepts are even important, you’re definitely not alone. It can all seem a bit overwhelming when you’re just getting started.
However, investing some time into identifying your ideal clients is not as tricky as you might think.
It can also have a whole variety of benefits.
Knowing your ideal client profile can be beneficial to your practice because it can:
- Allow you to be seen as more credible/experienced due to your focus on one specialisation
- Allow you to focus on what you’re best at or most passionate about
- Make your communication, outreach, and marketing much easier
- Facilitate your training and how you acquire specialised expertise
- Help you have an easier time networking with highly relevant colleagues
It can also be helpful to your clients for several reasons.
By focusing only on your ideal target audience, your clients will:
- Have a much easier time finding out about your services and understanding what exactly it is that you offer
- Be able to easily decide whether you are a good solution to their current problem
- Be able to connect with you on a deeper level and trust your expertise
- Feel more heard and understood because they know you understand their problem
- Be able to set appropriate expectations for their work with you which will lead to a better client experience and better client satisfaction overall
Identifying your ideal client and implementing that information into your overall strategy can be a huge turning point in the success of your work.
Let’s jump right into figuring out who YOUR ideal client could be!
How can I identify the niche and ideal client for my private practice?
This part really isn’t too difficult, I promise.
All that’s usually required is a good amount of self-reflection and awareness of what has/hasn’t been working for you as well as where you want to be going in the future.
First, you’ll want to narrow down the overall niche you want to serve with your practice.
Once you’ve identified your niche, you can start asking yourself who your prospective client would be.
To make this process easier for you, we’ve collected a list of questions that can help guide you through it.
Carve out as much time as you can to think about these, perhaps even take a full day or two on the weekend, to sit down with a pen, a notebook and a cup of your favourite hot drink.
You want to make sure that you can really get into the mindset necessary to start reflecting on your needs, your experience, your goals, etc.
PLUS: If you want an even easier way of going through these questions, we’ve also created a free downloadable worksheet that you can print and fill out whenever you like.
It includes all the questions we’re about to cover and can be accessed here.
- Questions to ask yourself in order to identify your optimal niche:
- Which issues get me so fired up that I love to teach people more about it?
- If I could only treat one or two issues for the rest of my career, what would I choose?
- What issues/treatments can you provide the most value/expertise for?
- What issues make me my best therapist self?
- What issues bring me energy and help me to feel passionate about my work?
- Where do I get the most positive feedback?
- Where do I see the most positive results with my clients?
- Where do I see a gap in the current market?
- Which issues/treatments bring you the most value financially?
You might find that you don’t come to a clear answer right away.
That is absolutely fine.
Finding the right niche for your services is a huge foundational cornerstone of your overall success so give yourself some time, even if it takes a few weeks, to keep coming back to these questions.
While both economic and social factors play a huge role in picking a good niche, You need to make sure you are picking something that feels true to who you are.
Always try to follow your own instincts or intuition.
After you’ve reached some clarity as to what niche to focus on, it’s time to take a closer look at who your prospective clients within that particular niche might be.
Keep in mind that it is absolutely possible to create a few different ideal client profiles if you feel like you are serving different subgroups of people.
Ideally, you don’t want to have more than two or three separate profiles.
Once you start trying to communicate with several different groups at the same time, the relevance of what you’re trying to say to each group will decrease.
Your clients will be less likely to understand why yours is the perfect solution to their current problem.
Questions to ask yourself to help identify your ideal client …
Within my specific niche …
- which clients do I look forward to most? What do they all have in common?
- which clients can I provide the most value/expertise for?
- which clients bring out the best version of myself?
- who gives me energy and makes me feel passionate about my work?
- which clients do I get the most positive feedback from? With whom have I been most successful in the past and seen the best results?
- who is willing to pay for my services?
- who has the most motivation to follow through with treatment?
- who are the clients that are most easily accessible? (in-person and online?)
How can I learn more about my ideal clients?
Once you’ve identified your client profile(s), you’ll want to learn as much about each individual profile as you can in order to use that information to tailor your outreach efforts to each group’s individual needs.
Don’t think of this stage as a one-and-done situation.
This is an on-going journey that you will be on as long as you are serving your clients.
The goal here is to keep learning more about them so you can continue to build a genuine long-term relationship that is based on their needs, concerns and goals.
Some of the things you’ll want to take a look at here are:
- Standard demographics (age, gender, location, occupation, income, etc.)
- Psychographics (personality traits, morals, values, etc.)
- Lifestyle, daily habits, responsibilities, routines, etc.
- Interests, hobbies, influences, information sources, etc.
- Fears, worries, concerns (daily and long-term)
- Hopes, dreams, goals (daily and long-term)
In order to find out information about these things, you might consider conducting some client interviews (both online or in-person) to gain better insights into who your clients are.
You could research them on social media, join relevant groups to see what they’re talking about, or read any relevant blogs and forums that you can find with a simple Google search.
Once you’ve gotten a good overview of who they are, you can take a look at how you and your services fit into their picture.
- Which of their specific goals can you help them achieve?
- Which of their problems can you help them solve?
- What do they need to know about you and your service before considering you?
- What specific results are they trying to achieve by using your service?
- What are the most common questions they would have about your service?
- What are the most common objections/fears they would have towards your service?
- Can they make their own decision about your service or do they have to convince someone else? If so, who do they need to convince and what info do they need to convince them?
How do I attract my ideal customers?
Learning everything there is to know about your ideal customers without putting that information to use is like buying a Ferrari and letting it collect dust in the garage.
Now that you’ve put in the work above, you should actually use that information to improve your marketing efforts and in turn attract more ideal customers to your practice.
Luckily, the WriteUpp blog is already full of educational content that can help you learn how to do just that!
Related Post: Helping You To Raise Your Practice Profile
We recommend starting with Healthcare Marketing: A Complete Overview for Private Practitioners.
In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step and jargon-free breakdown of what private practice marketing is, why a good strategy based on your ideal client profile is so important and what different marketing tactics there are that you can use.
Once you’ve realised that marketing your practice doesn’t have to be as scary and overwhelming as it might seem, you can start getting actionable with our guide on How To Build Your Private Practice Marketing Plan.
Here, we provide a super practical blueprint and downloadable toolkit that is designed to take you through a three-step process to create your ideal marketing plan.
Last but not least, once you’ve built a plan for yourself and you want to start implementing any of the individual tactics, you can also read up on how to effectively use Social Media Marketing, Google Ads, Content Marketing and Email Marketing.
Now, it’s over to you!
If you’re interested in identifying your perfect type of client then here are the main things that you should takeaway from this article:
- Your private practice niche refers to a group of people/services/treatments that you specialise in. Your ideal client is a subgroup within that niche that represents the kind of client that brings you the most value and you can offer the most value to.
- Identifying your niche and ideal client can have a variety of benefits for both you and your clients so it’s worth investing enough time to get it right.
- You can start to identify your niche and perfect client by asking yourself a lot of questions about your qualifications, skills, needs, dreams, etc. To make things easy for yourself, simply download our free, printable worksheet here:
- Knowing and understanding your ideal client is only the first step in the sale process! Make sure you actually put the information to use in the way that you market yourself and communicate with your clients.