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Become a more purpose-driven business: step five

Drawing of client being inspected by others
If you want to be a purpose-driven business, take a close look at the clients you want to work with

In this penultimate instalment of our series aimed at helping you transform your business into a purpose-driven powerhouse, we're focusing on your clients and potential clients.

As ever, research is a powerful storyteller…

Given the choice, consumers prefer to deal with businesses that can articulate their purpose and demonstrate commitment to it through their actions.

That’s the finding of multiple pieces of research around the world. With that in mind, here’s a couple of questions for you to ponder:

  • First, wouldn’t it be great if you had a reliable flow of the right clients buying the right products and services for the right price?

  • And second, wouldn’t it also be great if those clients remained loyal and became enthusiastic advocates for your business?

Undoubtedly, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes.

purpose spelt out on wooden blocks on green background
Your purpose is something clients and prospects care about

In businesses where this Utopia exists, two things stand out:

  • Business purpose is clear and evident in dealings with all stakeholders; and,

  • Clients tend to look and feel like each other - they at least approximate an “ideal profile”.

However, in most businesses...

…finding a large proportion of clients that could be described as “ideal” is the exception rather than the rule. Which is most often a result of one or both of two things:

  • First, not thinking through the ideal client profile in the first place; and/or,

  • Abandoning the ideal profile even if you did think it through. That happens in the understandable pursuit of early-stage profitability in a business. But it results in a longer-term cost.

So, what’s the solution?

Let’s assume you’ve reached the point where you’re clear about purpose. Your vision is clear, strategy is in place, and your employees are engaged and committed.

That's all great but when you look at your clients... realise they’re a pretty disparate bunch. They don’t tend to be repeat purchasers and rarely recommend your business to others.

What can you do?

red faces of a Rubik's cube with figure it out written on it
No ideal client profile? You need to work on it sooner than later

First up, establish your ideal client profile. The perfect place to start is to think about your best clients today. Beyond any demographic or socio-economic similarities, there are two key things you need to know about this group:

  • Why did they initially choose your business, beyond considerations of price or perceived value for money; and,

  • What keeps them coming back…what makes them loyal to your business and ready referrers to others (again, beyond price and value for money)?

The answers to those two questions are gold.

They’re the critical pieces of information that will enable you to further refine your purpose message.

How do you get these insights?

You ask for them.

You can do that in any number of ways:

  • An online survey;

  • Email;

  • Face-to-face; or,

  • Any method that suits your business and clients.

Regardless of your chosen method, be very specific with your questions - you’re trying to establish the deepest, least obvious reasons your best clients choose you. You want to understand how your business purpose resonates with them, capturing their hearts and minds.

line of people with some of them showing under a microscope
Take the time to understand your clients - the good, bad and ugly

Sometimes, business owners and leaders shy away from delving deeply into their clients' thoughts. While most won’t admit it, the reason for this is they’re a little scared about what their clients might say….that in allowing clients to air their views, you may as well invite them to complain.

Sure, you may get some negative feedback, but that’s part of the puzzle. If you know what irritates your clients, you know what to try to improve.

It may also be tempting to rely on Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as the only client feedback you need. While the NPS is a pretty good measure and will help you understand the propensity of clients to refer others to you, it doesn’t go far enough. On its own, it doesn’t give any indication of the motivation behind a client’s readiness to refer. Without that information, you’re still flying blind.

Also, relying on what you “think” are the reasons your clients stick with you is more than a little risky. You won’t know the real reasons until you ask them directly.

This process is often best outsourced - it takes time, focus and follow-up (plus a little courage). While you and your team are busy getting on with business, engaging a third party can really pay off.

What to do with the data?

The data you gather here is invaluable. That’s because you’ll use it as the cornerstone for future decisions related to your clients and prospective clients, from engagement to acquisition and retention.

It enables you to refine and build on your “purpose message”.

Here are some key tips:

  • Review your marketing and promotional materials and activities to ensure your messaging is truly “purposeful” - in other words, to make sure you’re communicating not what you do but why you do it (with thanks to Simon Sinek);

  • Do the same with your Client Value Proposition, which ultimately can be your statement of purpose (or a version of it);

  • Use the data to review and refine your service/product suite.

Engaging deeply with your best clients and asking well-worded questions deepens their connection with your business through its purpose.

Which in turn means you can more readily target like-minded prospective clients.

That’s the good news

One inevitable outcome of this exercise will be some “collateral damage” in that you may lose some “B-grade” clients. You might also dissuade some potential clients from dealing with you because they don’t “get” your purpose.

But that’s ok.

Because your client base will increasingly shift toward the “ideal”. By consistently delivering on your purpose-driven promises, these clients will be easier to work with, more loyal and ultimately more profitable.

Oh, and they’ll be the best advocates and source of new business you’ll ever have because they’re likely to refer people similar to themselves – your ideal clients!

Where to from here?

Your clients are pivotal to your business. Of course they are.

That said, if you're completely honest with yourself, many clients you currently work with don't buy why you're in business. Some of them can be downright challenging and transient clients who conduct a transaction and move on.

And you know you'd most likely be better off without them...

On the other hand, you know who your best clients are and would dearly love to be able to replicate them...

While cloning's not in our bag of tricks, we have other strategies to help you quickly and easily build your ideal customer base quickly and easily in your business.

chalk drawing of man climbing stairs toward the words "what's next?"

How purpose-driven is your business right now?

If you're keen for immediate feedback on how sustainable your business growth might be over the longer term, please follow the link to our "Strength of Business Purpose Pulse Check".

It'll take only a few minutes to complete, and you'll get your results instantly.


Is purpose your "business North Star"?

Is your ideal client profile driven by and consistent with your business purpose?

How many of your current clients can you say resemble your ideal profile?

The advisers at GrowthCatalyst can help you create and embed purpose and put you on the road to long-term, sustainable and profitable business growth.

Contact us to arrange a face-to-face or virtual conversation.

Alternatively, you can book a time for an initial discussion here.

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