A fancy website or pretty Instagram feed might entice interested leads, but finding the right clients takes more than just a highly-curated online presence. Instead, a business owner must develop a client attraction strategy that fills their pipeline with qualified prospects who recognize value when they see it.
Otherwise, it won’t be long before you find yourself neck-deep in cost-averse leads, annoying clients, and services you don’t enjoy. That right there is a recipe for burnout.
Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for “good enough” clients. You can—and deserve to—do what you love for people you love. It’s all a matter of identifying your ideal client and tailoring your messaging to speak to their needs.
Here are some expert tips to help you home in on your dream clients.
Figure out your “type” first
Lack of clarity around your ideal client leads to a scattershot approach to marketing. And it’s hard to attract anyone when trying to reach everyone. So the first step to booking ideal clients is figuring out who they are!
“Take the time as a team if you have one, or with a support group if you are solo, to dive deep into what type of client you truly want to attract!” encourages Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events. “Go into detail about their personality, budget, style, and values. We do this as a company at the start of every wedding season, as our target client profile has changed over the years.”
Reflect on the clients you’ve enjoyed working with most, and consider what made them great experiences. Was it their laid-back personalities? An uncapped budget? A smaller guest list? Trust how your gut responds, and note what stands out to you most!
Find your people online
Once you know your ideal client, it’s time to figure out where they hang out—online and offline. A bit of market research goes a long way in revealing the best channels to find your target audience.
As Katie Mast of Rock Paper Coin notes, “Where do they get their information from? Which social media platforms do they use? Who do they follow and why? Once you have this info, you can start strategically posting using like-minded hashtags and geotags in places they are searching for.”
A great way to learn more about your ideal clients’ behavior is simply to ask! Reach out to past and current clients you enjoy to learn about favorite publications, hopes, fears, and motivations when planning an event. Use the network you have!
Don’t leave anything to guesswork
Misunderstandings lead to lost leads, so avoid hiding or obscuring essential details from the public. Brand messaging is one area it’s not worth being mysterious!
“Make your offerings abundantly clear in all your messaging,” affirms Jenna Porter of Jenna Noelle Creative. “Set yourself apart from the next vendor by clearly communicating what your process looks like, what they can expect, who you are both as a person and a professional, and who your ideal client is.”
Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Events agrees, adding a suggestion: “Set expectations of your caliber of services and the working relationship you will have from the moment the inquiry triggers the automated reply. In a kind, clear systematic language, set the tone for the value you will bring to their experience and your expected level of engagement.”
When you’re clear in your messaging, you can qualify leads better and avoid booking clients that don’t respect your boundaries.
Clarity doesn’t mean putting on a façade to fit in with other businesses. Instead, it’s much more effective to lay it all out there and let your ideal clients fall for the real you.
“Authenticity is your biggest gateway to your dream clients,” promises Jennifer Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “You attract what you put out. Show up in video and photograph format, tell your story (in audio or text), and also tell how YOU help your ideal client!”
Consider this permission to show up as yourself, flaws and all. People are attracted to brands, but they want to work with people. Show them why you’re the best fit!
Align your marketing approach
What you share online tells the world what you do and who you do it for, so be mindful of the images and messaging you use in your marketing strategy. Your website, social media profiles, and emails should serve as a green light guiding your ideal clients home.
“Promote the kinds of couples you want to work with,” recommends Amy Sims of Amy Sims Photography. “Again, think of this as a positive manifestation. If there is someone you want in your clientele base, make sure they can see themselves in your promotional material, including your portfolio, blog, and social media posts.”
Ava And The Bee’s Adrienna McDermott chimes in to add, “It's also important to share your expertise and what you did for each couple. Another way to align your business with the right clients is to position yourself as the expert. Showcase how your unique skills can provide the best services for your clients.”
When your marketing approach aligns with your target audience, your content will become a client magnet and draw in prospects you can’t wait to book.
Ask, listen, and adapt
Marketing isn’t an echo chamber, so treat it like a two-way conversation. If you want to engage your audience, you have to speak their language.
And the best way to do so? “Ask them,” states Julianne Smith of Garter Girl Creative. “Study the language they use in inquiries. Don’t be afraid to poll your clients. And, when you do ask, don’t use drop-down menus and checkboxes. Instead, ask them to describe—in their own words—how they found you or what they liked most about working with you. Then use their exact words and phrases to find your next client with those same issues.”
Vizcaino agrees, assuring that “speaking their language is important. Pay attention to the language they use and mirror it back. This will help build rapport and trust. If you can relate to them on a level that feels like you ‘get them,’ then you are one step closer to attracting clients just your type.”
The best insights come directly from the source: your dream clients. So tune in and listen not just to what they’re saying but what they’re not saying. Read between the lines and find a way to address their needs as no one else can.
Build your online reviews
Another powerful way to attract new clients is by leveraging social proof to your advantage. Online reviews and testimonials can often say more than a brand’s website copy, so ensure you collect positive feedback to share with others.
“Almost everyone uses reviews to evaluate your services, from the highest end to our budget clients,” assures Meredith Ryncarz of The Restart Specialist. “But less than 70% of vendors ask for a review at any point in time during the vendor-client relationship. Simply asking for a review can make a difference and give your brand further validity that you are worth it.”
Pro tip: Update your existing offboarding workflow to include a request for reviews. Make it as easy as possible by linking to your preferred review sites so your happy clients can quickly provide feedback!
Cultivate an engaged network
Of course, network referrals are one of the best ways to find your ideal clients! Since friendors know your brand and its offerings well, they’re in a position to send qualified leads to you. So book those coffee dates and work your way onto preferred vendor lists!
“Network and stay close to vendors that already do work with the types of clients that fit your brand,” affirms Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “They can refer potential couples your way that fit exactly what you are after—do a good job, and this will happen time and time again!”
If you’re unsure where to start, follow this recommendation from Wedding Venue Map’s Shannon Tarrant: “Make a list of 3 businesses in your area to build better and deeper relationships with, and then create a plan to make that happen. Even if you are in the same category, the best referral relationships can come from other businesses when they are already booked.”
Filling your business with amazing clients that you can’t wait to impress is more than just a success strategy. It’s how you build a business—and life—you love with work that pays the bills, satisfies clients, and fulfills your dreams.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.