How come you can do Ideal Client work and still feel unclear on your Ideal Client actually is and/or how to ‘find’ them?

Because Ideal Client work is where the audience-identification process starts, and yet most people in the online space teach it as though this is where audience-identification stops.

Do any traditional Ideal Client work and you’ll typically find yourself answering questions like what kind of car the person drives, how many kids they do or don’t have, whether they like pineapple on pizza or watch Ted Lasso (I’m late to the game, I know, but Ted Lasso is my new favorite show). If you’re lucky, you may also find an Ideal Client discovery process that also has you looking at psychographics such as what their fears and hopes are, what they value, etc. All of this can be useful, but only for one thing: humanizing the person/people on the other side of your screen. AKA the people you are building offers for, creating content for, selling to, etc. Beyond that, an Ideal Client profile, on its own, is pretty useless.

I remember one of my clients, a life coach, came to me a few years ago saying, “I was on a sales call with a person who was SO right for my offer, but they didn’t match my Ideal Client. They weren’t a woman in her 40s who worked at a corporate job that sucked the life out of her. I still invited them to work with me because I know that I can help them, but I feel like maybe I shouldn’t have since they weren’t my Ideal Client.” And this, my friends, gets exactly to the heart of why Ideal Clients, on their own, are useless: they end up painting an extremely narrow picture of who you’re “supposed” to work with that therefore rules out a BUNCH of other people who could actually be served by your work.

(p.s. if you’ve been feeling the same way, I highly recommend checking out our free training: Niche on the Problem, Not the Person.)

But there’s also another reason Ideal Client profiles on their own are useless…

Look at that Ideal Client that my client, a life coach, was looking for: a woman in her 40s who worked at a corporate job that sucked the life out of her. This is simultaneously unnecessarily narrow around the things that don’t matter—who’s to say that this life coach couldn’t also serve a stay-at-home dad or a nonbinary fashion designer that loves their work—and extremely broad around the things that do.

Namely: is this woman in her 40s who works at a corporate job that sucks the life out of her aware that she has a problem that she’d like to solve? Is she actively searching for a solution to that problem? Does she have the experiences, values, and/or characteristics that will set her up to succeed in solving that problem specifically with your work? Is she taking responsibility for her own transformation/s or result/s, or is she looking for someone to come in and save her from her misery? I could go on.

An Ideal Client profile gives you a set of psychographics and demographics, but it doesn’t give you what you actually need in order to know whether this Ideal Client is a Right Fit for your work.

The 4 Foundations of a Right Fit Client

As I mentioned before: Ideal Client work is where audience-identification is meant to start, not stop. In fact, your Ideal Client is only ONE of FOUR Audience foundations, and it’s really just the entry point that provides us a tiny bit of clarity and direction for the pieces of our audience that actually matter and actually impact everything else in our businesses.

In order to identify your true Right Fit client, you need to first start by defining your Ideal Client. The way we do this here at WholeCo is pretty dang similar to most other Ideal Client work you can find out there, except we encourage our clients to do it in <15 minutes because, again, it’s really not that important.

Once you’ve defined your Ideal Client—aka taken your audience from an amorphous blob to an actual human that you can picture—NOW we get into the stuff that really matters and that really defines the type of people you want to attract into your work.

Now we look at: which version of that person is best-positioned to succeed in or with your work? We call this the best-positioned to succeed client. A common example I’ll use here is: if you are a podcast producer selling a podcast launch package, and your ideal client is some version of an online business owner, you probably don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t know who their audience is, is constantly changing up their offers and messaging, and who isn’t already consistently marketing their business and work as it is. Reason being that podcast content is best used as evergreen content—meaning that it’s intended to last ‘forever’—and someone who is still trying to figure out these foundational elements of their business is going to have to constantly switch up their podcasting strategy to stay aligned with the current iteration of their business. They very well might need an entirely different strategy by the time you go to launch. Or imagine that you’re a coach specializing in hypnotherapy and shadow work. You don’t really want to work with someone who is decidedly anti-woo and who just wants to logic their way out of everything/receive mind-based strategy for overcoming obstacles, because you’ll have to constantly convince them that there is value in doing the deeper inner healing work. Someone could match the profile of your “Ideal Client” but still not be best-positioned to succeed in or with your work.

Then you want to look at which version of your Ideal, best-positioned to succeed Client is purchase-ready. There are four types of purchase-ready clients—though we only want to sell to two of them!—which is a longer conversation outside the scope of why we’re here today. (Although identifying your two Right Fit, purchase-ready clients is a BIG part of what we do inside of our course, The Aligned Niche™!)

And finally, you want to identify which version of your Ideal, best-positioned to succeed, purchase-ready client is physiologically ready to transform. AKA do they have the physiological capacity—this goes wayyyy deeper than brain-level “desire” and is literally determined by their physical body, or “nervous system” (though it goes even beyond nervous system!)—to do what is required of them in order to see and sustain the results or transformation they desire to create?

Going beyond “ideal client” work is the only way to truly understand who you are speaking/marketing/selling to, building offers for, working to attract, and more.

With these four Audience foundations in mind, it’s no wonder that after doing traditional Ideal Client work you’re still struggling to feel like you really know who they are, how to find them, and especially how to talk to them and get them into your sales process! Your Ideal Client work was meant to be the start of identifying your Audience, not the end of it.

If you want to truly identify who your Right Fit client is—and go well beyond traditional Ideal Client work—I invite you to join us inside our course, The Aligned Niche™.

The Aligned Niche™ is a step-by-step course where you will learn to clearly express who you help and how so that you can confidently showcase what makes you and your work unique everywhere that you’re marketing and selling your stuff.

Throughout this in-depth and actionable course, you will…

  1. Define your Niche Statement so you can check “find my niche” off your to do list, for good! (p.s. your niche is NOT your ideal client!)
  2. Identify your Purchase-Ready client so you can hone all of your messaging, copy, and content in on speaking directly to the people who are ready to buy, right away.
  3. Build offer/s and packages that deliver on what they say they will so you can begin to confidently talk about and sell your work.
  4. Get what’s in your head out on paper in a way that positions your offer as an obvious-yes for your Right Fit clients so that the right people get it and the people who aren’t yet ready for your work will weed themselves out.

Register today to join us inside The Aligned Niche™, so that you can not only go beyond useless Ideal Client work, but actually, finally understand who you’re talking to, the best offer/s to serve and support them, and how to talk about your work so that it instantly resonates with the Right Fit people (and weeds out the wrong fits!).

Handy Links:

Carly Jo Bell of WholeCo Media - Headshot@2x


I’m Carly Jo Bell.

(Though you can just call me Carly.)

Carly Jo Bell is a business strategist and mentor, and fonder of Whole Co media. Through her courses and programs, podcast, and one on one coaching, Carly helps pulled-in-every-direction entrepreneurs create a business that brings in as much joy as it does revenue — by cultivating deep self trust, and solid foundations as the first step.

For more from Carly, and to learn about her signature “looking external for inspiration, and internal for answers” approach, join the conversation by signing up for her weekly email series, Carly's Couch.


Client Spotlight: Therapeutic Coach in the UK

Photo of Pam, who has light blond hair and a warm smile.

Client Spotlight: Pam Bowman

Photo of Michelle, who has black curly hair, glasses, and a big smile standing against a backdrop of phenomenal art.

Client Spotlight: Michelle Crowder-Soellner

SSP Ep026 art

“I know I need to raise my price points, but…” (common fears around increasing your rates and what to do about them)