Your Target Market and the Authenticity Test

Last week I asked a CPA about her target client. She told me (with a hint of pride that she could answer the question with such specificity) that she worked with individuals or families with annual household income in excess of $150,000.

And while the answer seemed perfectly reasonable, I had a hard time imagining a less inspiring description of a target client. She had perfectly demonstrated two of the common ‘misses’ when it comes to defining your target market or ideal client.

  • It doesn’t reflect a group of people who are likely to energize and inspire you.
  • It doesn’t reflect how clients characterize themselves.

Is Your Target Client an Ideal Client?

Here’s a simple exercise to help you assess your target client today and craft a description that’s a rallying cry for new clients.

Imagine you have a blank white board in front of you and you’re going to finish this sentence. (This is a blank slate and a theoretical exercise so think about your ideal and don’t worry if it accurately reflects your client base today.)

At <insert firm name> we work with clients who……

Do you have a description in mind? Now imagine that same whiteboard was a welcome sign hanging outside your office and I’m the prospect. That description not only has to reflect what you care about, it has to compel me to walk through the door.

Now, let’s get honest. If you’re a financial advisor and your target is pre-retirees with $250k or more in total investable assets, does that really get your heart racing? As a prospect, do I bound through that door. Yes! This dude knows other people 50-64 year old with substantial assets. This is going to be epic!

The Authenticity Test

So authenticity plays an important role here. Imagine, now, that there’s a second part to that welcome sign and complete this sentence.

The reason I work with <insert target client description> is because….

How does it sound when you say it out loud? When you articulate your ‘why’, it forces you to ask if you really believe it or if you’ve been defaulting to a vanilla definition that reflects the largest group of clients you can imagine.

Make it a Rallying Cry

However, if you get that description right, it will not only get you jumping out of bed in the morning, it will be a rallying cry. You’ll become a magnet for exactly the right clients.  Simon Sinek provides extraordinary insight into why every business needs to understand it’s ‘why’ and this is a small piece of that puzzle.

That welcome sign is, of course, the home page of your website. In a recent study of financial advisors, from the Financial Planning Association, a majority of respondents said their prospects could not identify their ideal client by visiting their site. That’s like inviting me to a very long party but not telling me who’s invited.

Some time ago I interviewed Randy Gerber. He’s the CEO of Gerber, LLC and he and his team work exclusively with first generation entrepreneurs.

On his home page it says “Why do we work with first generation entrepreneurs? Our founder believes they are the world’s leaders and creators”.


If I read that on his welcome sign, I’d crash through the door because being an entrepreneur defines a great deal about me and because I need my advisor to understand those unique needs. More than that, I know he chose that group because he is energized and inspired by working with those people. It’s a clear and authentic target.

Defining a personal vision for your clients is important for two reasons.

  1. First, because it sparks something in you that will drive you forward (the bouncing out of bed factor).
  2. Second, because extraordinary growth and momentum demands focus.

Too often the way we describe our target audience is a simple reflection of mathematical opportunity rather than getting at the core of the group that we can best serve. The clients you choose to serve says something very important about you and your business and sets the stage for how you build your business.

What’s on your welcome sign?

Thanks for stopping by,

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