by Julia Rymer, artboss co-founder

Marketing is most effective when you know whom you are marketing to, as you can speak directly to their needs and wants. This is where the concept of an “ideal client” comes in. But what exactly does that mean? How do you find this elusive person, and once you have, what next?

An “ideal client” is simply the person that, without hesitation, wants to pay for your good or services. This person needs what you create in their life, and they are willing to spend actual money on it (not just give you “exposure” dollars)! Your product or service fulfills a need for them, gives them a special feeling, or connects with them in a unique way.

Let’s say that you create hand-painted silk scarves. Or make paintings of people’s children. Or design websites. Or specialize in wedding photography. For each of these creative endeavors, there is a person who wants or needs that product or service in their life. You just have to find them. And to find this person, you have to do some research, looking both at whom you want to be selling to, as well as whom you have sold to before.

In an ideal world, who would buy your work or hire you for your services? Dig deep, get into the nitty-gritty details and rifle through their proverbial papers. What age range do they fall into? What would their profession possibly be? What do they watch on TV or Netflix? What do they eat? What do they wear? What brands do they follow? (Do you see where I am going with this?) You are painting a picture of a person that you will direct your marketing towards, so that it feels more personal, authentic and unique to them.

A big question to ask yourself is what this person’s “pain point” is, or what problem you solve for them. For example, if you paint portraits of children, what is this client’s pain point? The answer is time. You are stopping time in place by capturing their child in a moment. You are solving the problem of forgetting by creating a memory.

The same goes for any creative profession or endeavor. Just try to get into their shoes and their head, and figure out why what you do has meaning or value for them. What problem do you solve for them?

The next thing to think about is who has purchased your work or services in the past, and what patterns are there. Look through the data of past sales and clients. Try to “get to know” this client type in the same way you got to know the person to whom you want to be selling. Who are they? What common denominators exist between the members of this group? Look for trends in your past client relationships, and think about how to build on those characteristics.

Getting to know your ideal client will also help you target specific markets where they may be located, both geographically and online. Perhaps you noticed that lots of people from Northern California like your work. Find ways to connect in that region of the country. Or, do your clients tend to spend time on a specific social media platform, read a specific magazine or blog, or have a common hobby? How can you leverage those elements in your marketing efforts and branding?

Working with the patterns you find in past and future clients, you will see a story emerge. Armed with this information, you can now direct your marketing efforts in an efficient manner, creating an effective plan.

Finding your ideal client takes time and effort, but is worth it in the long run. It allows you to build your business and your brand and hone your marketing efforts for more effectiveness, saving a lot of heartache and time spent asking, “But why doesn’t anyone want to buy my work?”

They do want to. You just have to find them where they are.