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Researching Your Target Client: Side Effects May Include… (Target Client Mastery 3/5)

I should have warned you about two things.

First, there’s a side effect to doing target client research:

Feeling better about yourself.

Just this week, someone left me a comment saying she’d read my blog for years, but only recently started gathering info from past clients. She was stunned at how sweet and helpful the replies were, and said it almost made her cry to read them.

This is a pretty common reaction. Hazarding a guess here, but you, my creative friend, probably don’t spend enough time celebrating your wins, or giving yourself enough credit. There’s a strong business purpose to gathering info on your target clients, but don’t be surprised if you feel happier as a result.

And if you don’t have clients yet? Gather the info anyway, using the method we talked about yesterday, and your confidence is still going to increase because you’ll be more certain about every decision you make.

Now – on to what to do with the replies!

1. First, make sure you have enough.

‘Enough’ means that additional replies don’t seem to add any new information. (In psychology research, it’s called the ‘saturation’ point.) Since this is informal, and you’re asking three questions or so, 5-8 replies will probably get you a good base, 10 may be better.

2. Gather the replies on one page, then grab a highlighter and pen (if you’re an eternal student type, this’ll be fun):

  • Highlight any “echoes” – stuff more than one person says.
    • Example: One person says “I’ll do it when I have more time,” and another says “I am too busy right now.” Bingo – that’s an echoed idea: Your target client is putting this off because they feel too busy.
  • Circle any repeated specific words or phrases.
    • Example: If multiple people say “My kids are sweet but can be little terrors!” then circle the word ‘terrors’. If multiple people say “running late,” circle that phrase.
  • Underline any one-off comment that may not be echoed, but stands out to you as particularly honest or interesting.
    • Example: If a mom says “I was worried everyone would look good in the photos except me,” that would probably grab your attention. You’ll know these when you see them – they will somehow ring true, even if only one person says it.

3. Now we’re going to think like the FBI, and start mirroring these things back to them.

You’ll probably see two general categories of things: Practical concerns (kids won’t behave, I’m too busy, weather is unpredictable, my partner is not on board, what if it isn’t a good business investment) and some more deep-seated emotional issues (I need to lose weight first, who am I to have photos taken of myself).

The highest-return easy activity you may ever do is mirroring their practical concerns on your website.

Are they worried about their kids’ behavior?

  • Use their exact words, especially the ones you circled: “You may be thinking, man, I love my kids, but they can be little terrors right when I need them to behave.”
  • Now show them why they don’t need to worry. Explain why ‘cooperating’ isn’t the right way to think about a photoshoot. Use testimonials that mention that same worry and what happened instead. Interview three sets of parents on camera and stitch together a short video talking about that exact thing. Show yourself photographing kids who are being loud, wiggly, rambunctious, and then show stills you captured from the shoot. However you do it, illustrate why this isn’t an issue.

Are they wondering whether this is a worthwhile investment for their business?

  • Mirror that wording: “You may think yeah, photos are beautiful, but will this really be worth the money?”
  • Now show them metrics that address that! Do a comparison with a past client before and after they put their new headshot on their website, and make a graph showing a spike in click-throughs. Screenshot comments customers left after they added new photos to the website. Take a Google Analytics screenshot showing an increase of time spent on the page when they added your slideshow. If they want to see results, show them results.

(Irresistible Website has tons more examples of how to weave these things into your site, by the way. And Irresistible Words shows you how to write web copy that builds this right in.)

The second warning I should have given you:

Reflecting their exact concerns and wording will freak people out.

They’re expecting you to just show photos and make a pitch.

If they see you using the exact words going through their mind (which you know what they are, because people told you, and it was echoed across multiple people), they flip. They start to read every word on your site. They send you emails like “how did you know that’s what I was thinking?!”. (Keep a folder of these – they’re the best.) They will trust you much, much, MUCH more than anyone else who hasn’t done this simple work.

Tomorrow we’re going to talk about how to handle the stickier, more emotional issues. If you handle it carefully, it can make people want to go to you and only you.



P.S.  Honest trailers for my classes (Save $50 on any course! Ends tomorrow):


Irresistible Website gives plenty of examples of how to smartly update your website to mirror target clients. Mild humor, petty exasperation, and Nike analogies included free of charge. Right now, $159 only $109.


Irresistible Words will save you a half-decade of advanced college and graduate writing classes.  Learn everything you need to know about how to sell someone on your work, minus the savage professor, drive to campus, and that annoying person who sat behind me crunching bell peppers during class.  I SAT THROUGH THAT SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.  Right now, $249 only $199.  (Why is this one the most expensive?  Because someday you and I might compete for the same grant and I kiiiiind of don’t want you knowing all the tricks I’ve also used to generate thousands of dollars in free money, so.  But if you’re up for it, this course spills the beans on that and more.)


Irresistible You teaches you about pink flamingos.  Well, actually it teaches you how to be memorable and get people to come back to you and forget about everyone else, because you are their person.  Hang on, I just remembered a joke.  What’s the opposite of a flamingo?  A flamin-stop.  Ha!  Tell that to the 9-year-olds at your next family reunion.  You’ll be a big hit.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, grab Irresistible You for $219 only $169 today.


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Go get yourself some good learnin’.

Hesitating for some reason?  Email me.  I’ll give you a straight answer.  And possibly another flamingo joke.

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