Episode 39 – Finding Your Ideal Client with Danielle Miller

Danielle dropped additional nuggets of sales and marketing goodness in the EXTENDED Interview. Be sure to click here to access all of our great extended interviews, transcripts and more within our Insider's Club.

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Danielle M Miller is a brand nurturer and strategist who works with women entrepreneurs and solopreneurs to help them craft a brand that shows up and stands out. She is the author of Smartypants Branding: The Bottom Line Guide to Getting Recognized, Being Remembered, and Making More Money in Business. She writes, speaks, and teaches about the undeniable power of branding in the digital age. She has shared the stage with brilliant women such as Martha Stewart, Arianna Huffington, and Sara Blakely, and has been featured in FitSugar, Lip Gloss Culture, and The Entrepreneur Gazette, as well as numerous radio and podcast interviews.

Podcast Transcription

Brian Basilico: Hey, guys. I am super pumped. I've got a great guest today that's going to help you find your perfect audience for your business and that's something that I've always had a challenge with. Danielle Miller is somebody who is really focused in on helping you to define your personal brand, your business brand and help you to capture that audience that is going to propel your business from where it is today to its utmost potential.

Danielle, can you tell us a little bit about you and how you went from being a special education teacher to a life coach and a career coach?

Danielle Miller: Sure, yes. Thank you. First of all, thank you so much for having me on the show today, Brian. I really appreciate the opportunity and anything to do with bacon while I'm always all in.

Brian: Amen to that.

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Danielle: The transition for me, as you said I started out as a special education teacher and I recognized that one of my core values is autonomy and freedom. I was being increasingly constricted in the things that I wanted to do and teach and very disillusioned with the educational system. So, a natural fit seem to me to be life coaching. So, I have gotten my life coaching certification, was doing that as Pam Slim calls the “side hustle” and decided that I really wanted to go all in on this, and I wanted to figure out where I could really do the most good and be of the most benefit in careers and the work that you do and fascinated by that. I'm fascinated by why people do what they do and why they do it.

So, I got my career coaching certification and then from that, the whole branding concept evolved and I was fascinated with the challenges and the struggles that the entrepreneurs and solopreneurs out there face each and every day in trying to get themselves known and at the same time build their businesses. That has evolved over the last seven years.

Brian: I thoroughly understand that. As a solopreneur – and we've talked about this in past episodes and we're going to be talking about coaching in future episodes. But masterminding and things like that, a lot of times we tend to focus on the bright shiny object, or as I say, “Squirrel!” It's almost like, “Okay, all of the sudden I'm starting to make money here. Let me keep going down this path.” And then it's like you're trying to follow the money rather than trying to follow the primary audience, which is that's where you really, really want to be.

In the process of all of this when you talk about branding, let's step on that first, then we'll get to the right audience next. Talk a little bit about personal branding, business branding, the solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, what kind of things do we need to think about?

Danielle: Well, that's the challenge and part of the struggle as a solopreneur. It's figuring out that level of discernment. It's about being able to put yourself out there authentically – whatever authentic means to you, that's a whole other show probably that you could do around that topic. But understanding your voice and how you show up each and everyday, and the work that you do, and really owning that is I think the first key to having that aligned brand and being able to integrate personality, and your quirks, and those things that make you uniquely you into the work you do so that people can start to create and develop those connections with you. Because we all know that that's really how you build a resonant and aligned business, is through creating connections with people and through relationships. It's not about thinking of your right people as a target market, but rather as your right people, your ideal clients, the people that you most want to work with.

Brian: Very true. I learned a lesson on this podcast. It was originally called “My Marketing Magnet” and the reason I did that was because I have a brand, a bacon, and it's because I wrote a book, It's Not About You, It's About Bacon. The problem that I had is I thought that that was so narrow because my sphere of influence was local and I wanted this to be obviously a national/international show, got listeners all over the world. I thought the My Marketing Magnet thing spoke more to the general public and what I found out is there was a huge disconnect between myself and my brand and the way that I present myself and the audience.

The minute I switched it back to “Bacon Podcast,” the numbers went through the roof and everybody was way excited, it was like all of a sudden I was being true to my brand rather than trying to reinvent it. Does that make sense?

Danielle: Oh yes, absolutely. I think that all entrepreneurs and solopreneurs go through this evolutionary process. It's a continual thing. You're never done. I think you go through this, it seems like every entrepreneur goes through this phase where they try to package themselves, they want to become a product of expectations and shoulds of what they think that their market or right people want. But as soon as they start letting go of those things, as soon as they start honing in on really who they are and what they bring to the table, it's amazing how quickly relationships develop and how quickly you were your tribe, your right people, your audience finds you because you have set them up in a way that they'll connect with you authentically.

Brian: Yes, great point. Great, great point, and I love that don't should yourself. Right?

Danielle: Right. Yes, exactly. We do though, but I think again, it's sort of that process, that evolution that we all have to go through that trial by fire.

Brian: Yes, and one of the things I said through a very, very interesting meeting today – somebody was in the corporate environment for 25 years, which is very, very rare nowadays, and talking about the evolution of things like that. Even at the corporate level, they're always trying to define their audience that we're talking about, how social media plays a big part in it and how you're getting instant feedback from your consumers which is why I'm a huge social media advocate, that's what I do.

But I guess the key question with all of this is how do we as solopreneurs, as entrepreneurs find our right audience? That right audience is like I think that's one of the toughest things for us to discern.

Danielle: Yes, you're absolutely right. Again, it's one of those things that it seems to be this evolutionary process that you go through as you really learn exactly who you want to work with, and who you can best serve, and how you want to show up day in and day out. I think this is the other thing that's so key and I hate to throw cold water on the bacon, but you really have to take the time to do this. It doesn't happen usually over night – these things going viral and people think social media is an instant road to success, in actuality, it takes time.

Brian: Oh yes, big time. One of my presentations, I have a slide up that says all the time it's, “Hey, I just met you at the bar. You want to marry me?” That's not how it works. Every relationship takes time to evolve and to grow, and not every relationship is right. That's one of the things that you have think about, too.

So, how do people use these tools to start to figure out their core audience?

Danielle: Right. I think once you have worked with that ideal client – and again we've all had that in our entrepreneurial journeys, that we've worked with our client that you wake up and you know you're going to talk to them today and that you're energized. It just fills you with energy, you're excited and I think if you can really go through and dissect exactly what that experience is, that will help you in attracting more of those people to you and it will open up the doorway to more of those people to find you.

So, what was it exactly about that client that so energized you that it made you feel like you were in flow with what you're doing? What kind of personality did they have? How did it mesh with your personality? The work that you did with them, really pinpoint exactly the challenges that you help that person overcome and when you figure that out and when you really strategically put that down in place, then you can start saying, “Okay, here are the themes and patterns that I see here. Here is the language that we both use.” That can do amazing things in helping you find more of those ideal clients.

Brian: Yes. That's huge and I know those patterns and I understand them and I think a lot of us do inertly, but what happens is it's time consuming to go find those right people. So what we tend to do is go back to the shiny object, the squirrels, like, “I've got to pay my mortgage. I've got to pay my rent. I've got to pay my employees. I've got to do all these things. I need to go sell my wares rather than finding that audience that is really kind of going to propel my business to the next level.” So, how does finding that audience that fits you, your personality and your brand help your business in the long run? What have you seen?

Danielle: Well, what I have seen, personally is I get a ton more referrals. When I work with my right people and the clients that are ideal, they automatically will refer me to other people in their orbits to work with. It makes that process so easy rather than chasing down that next client that's going to pay for your mortgage and that's not to say that you may continue to have those things in your business. Those clients may be that don't necessarily bring all the good energy, but you have to have a practical side, too. As much as you can start narrowing the playing field, and have a less of those clients, and more of the ideal clients, obviously that's your goal, that's what you're really shooting for.

But the bottom line is it's about getting back to your core values, what are the most important things to you, in your business and in your personal life, and using that as the compass that guides everything that you do. When you do that, it really is – I don't want to be all woo-woo here, but it really is kind of a magical thing because those right people just start showing up in your orbit.

Brian: Yes and a lot of the coaches, and business coaches, and people that I know are very anti-woo-woo. Because woo-woo is usually filled with a lot of hot air rather than a lot of grounded values and that's important. If we're looking for the kind of person that is going to be that optimal client, what are some of the tips that you can give us that help people hone in on their optimal audience?

Danielle: I think you've got to go beyond the demographics. You've got to go beyond thinking about your audience as a niche and really starting to think about them as an individual person. What exactly are the challenges that they're struggling with? That's the other thing I find as well. People think social media, they're going to find their right clients, but if you haven't done that really qualitative research on your client. You don't know for sure that your right client hangs out on Facebook. Do you know for sure that they're on Twitter? Maybe they're more of a LinkedIn person? Really understanding their mindset and putting yourself in their shoes is invaluable.

I will say that when I work with clients, when we talk about their ideal client, I ask, “Have you walked that path yourself? Do you really, really, really understand what your ideal client is trying to do, or accomplish, or what their challenges and struggles are? Who do they consider role models? What do they read? Where are they hanging out? What's their family dynamics look like?” Really getting inside of the psychographics can go so far in helping you get more of those ideal clients and once you've done that, you're able to provide really helpful information to them without expecting them to sign up for your next consult, but when you are on social media, then you're able to provide content that's very helpful to them.

Brian: Yes and I think it bring up a really, really great point. It is when you're working with your ideal type client, you're actually much more efficient in business. Right?

Danielle: Oh, gosh. Yes.

Brian: Yes, you're much more efficient and then when you start to identify that ideal client, then the information that you start to use to communicate focuses more on that direction and then it will probably start to attract more people that will be in that genre. What do you think?

Danielle: Oh yes, absolutely. Because like I said before, you're starting to really identify patterns and themes that show up for your right people. When you do that, you can then start to look at the language that they're using and how does that fit? How is that a good fit with the language that you use and incorporating those things and finding that equilibrium between your language and your ideal audiences' language, that's gold, that is priceless and you will have people flocking to you because they feel like you get them and that's what we all want. At the end of the day, we want to be validated, we want to feel like the person that can really help us gets us.

Brian: I love that. That's awesome. Let me ask you something; what are some of the things that you see with the people that you're working with? What are their common misconceptions or problems with trying to develop that brand, build their perfect audience? What are some of the things that are holding people back?

Danielle: One of the biggest things that I see, Brian, is that initially – and again like I said, this is a journey, this is a process that you go through. You want to be all things to all people because you know that what you have to offer can help everybody. I know, Brian, you can help everybody. Everybody that I meet, I can help them. But when I do that, I start to dilute my message and you really want to think about the concentration factor rather than the dilution factor. That's again going back to who your ideal audience is, “I can help everybody, but I don't want to help everybody. I don't have the desire to do that.”

Particularly with the solopreneurs, the coaches, the consultants out there, they have skills, they've learned things that really could be beneficial to many, many people. But when you start to really broadcast that so broadly, nobody listens to it because it just gets lost in all the overwhelming noise that's out there in the digital space. You've got to do that work and really figuring out who you want to talk to and who you can be of most service to. That's a huge challenge that I see.

One of the other things I see is figuring out where do you want your message to go. I'm sure that you especially, because this is your field, people think that social media is the answer to everything and that they have to be on every single platform.

Brian: Oh, yes.

Danielle: That's not necessarily advantageous to your business.

Brian: I talk about that all the time in presentations and speeches. If you know where your audience is, you need to spend time there. One of the most common mistakes that people make in this is they try to use social media as a broadcast medium as opposed to a relationship-building medium. That's where I at least I see a lot of the same mistakes. They don't understand the collaborative version versus the, “Let me just get my message out to as many people as I can.” That's because that's the way that large brands use it, but the way that large brands use it is vastly different than the way that small entrepreneurs need to use it. Would you agree?

Danielle: Oh, my gosh, absolutely. Most, if not all entrepreneurs, they don't have the marketing budgets that a big business had and they don't have the bandwidth to cope with the scale of something like that, that a big business has. Here is a funny little story. I spoke a couple of years ago at the National Association of Professional Women's Conference and when I was getting ready to go in to do my presentation – this is a forum with thousands of women there. The number of women that really literally came up to me and just handed me their business cards and then moved on to the next thing, I was floored, astounded. I had a woman from Kansas who gave me her business card about having my basement cleaned out. What am I ever going to use her service? To me that's a perfect example of this whole idea of really going shallow and wide rather than going resonate and deep.

Brian: So what is the difference between branding and marketing?

Danielle: Okay. Let me give you the quick version of this. A brand is all the things that happen inside. A brand are the elements that really help you decide how you want to show up and stand out. Those are the things like your core values, your mission statement, your vision, all those inner things that define who you are and the work that you do. Branding is how that then shows up to your ideal client, how you want to express your brand experience to your audience. Marketing is then how you tell people about it. That looks like your newsletter, that looks like doing interviews, that looks like creating communities – that's all the marketing that you do around your brand and branding. So there's a difference there.

They overlap. There are things in each distinct parameter that tend to overlap, but there are distinct things and I think that's another issue that comes out for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs over and over again, is understanding that there's a difference between branding and marketing.

Brian: I can see where a lot of people are very confused about that, because sometime they think that branding is marketing and marketing is branding. What are some of the most common mistakes that you see your clients or people who are trying to define their brand and find their perfect audience? What are some of the knocks yourself off mistakes that you've seen?

Danielle: Well, I think probably the biggest one is that most entrepreneurs and solopreneurs start out with the external things. They start out trying to figure out what their tag line is, they start out thinking that they have to have a logo design, they're worried about the fonts on their website, and the colors, and what I call moving the furniture around on their website, and tweaking things, and playing around with all of those external things and they haven't identified the core values of their brand, they haven't identified their voice, they haven't really honed in on their vibe, they haven't taken the time to really get down to the essence of their ideal audience, they haven't identified language that's resonate for their audience and themselves – all of those things are things that I see happening over and over again. Typically a client comes to me because they have spent a lot of money on a website and they expect a lot of time working on those external things and they're still not getting their ideal clients. Then we have to backtrack and build that foundation first; and then they've got that alignment, and then they're very confident because that's the other thing about having a brand. There's a lot of visibility and vulnerability involved and you have to decide whether or not you're willing to accept that.

Brian: Yes, huge – very, very huge.

My final question at least revolves and this is a hard one because I understand, it's hard to quantify, but how do you measure success? When you start to find the right audience, when can you say, “I finally got it. It's making sense and it's working for me.” How do you measure that?

Danielle: Well, I think that again first of all, you have to define and decide what success means to you. That's a very personal thing. Not anybody else can decide that for you. I think for myself, my success is defined by my ability to be helpful and useful to people. It's defined by my ability to provide experiences for my right audiences and for the people that I love the most. It's about being open to opportunities that come my way, it's about opening my inbox and people asking me about my work and how they can work with me rather than me having to chase people down, which when I started out of course I was doing that; it's about reputation; and it's about staying true to my core values. That's how I measure success personally. How somebody else measures it, I don't know, but I think that those are good starting points.

Brian: Those are. Those are very good starting points and I think those are questions that every solopreneur or entrepreneur need to ask themselves.

So you've got something that you'd like to offer our audience. Just tell us a little bit about your stuff.

Danielle: This is almost on a par with having bacon every morning because I'm so excited about it.

Brian: Awesome.

Danielle: It's always a good day if I can start out with bacon, but if I can't, having a book published is certainly the next best thing. That's for sure.

Brian: Yes, it is.

Danielle: So I recently had a book published called Smartypants Branding and it's all about really getting down to the core of your brand and the things that you can do. I have a phobia around systems, and formulas, and blueprints, and things like that because I think that many people – again going back to those issues that a lot of solopreneurs have, they think if they follow a system, that it's going to get them the same results as the person who developed the system. What they fail to take into account is who they are and how they want to show up. So, they forget to add themselves into the equation.

The book is really about how you can do that, how you can figure out what your core values are in your brand, and how you want to show up, and the voice and vibe, and your visibility factor, and getting really solid and clear on those things. So, moving forward, it's much easier for your ideal audience to connect with you, it's much easier for you to measure things in your business against your core values and how you want to pursue opportunities. I'm very excited about the book and it's available now.

Brian: Danielle, if people wanted to get a hold of you, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Danielle: Well, first of all you can find me at Daniellemmiller.com. We talked about that whole dilution of social media thing, but I love social media. It's been huge for me and you can find me on Facebook, you can find me on Twitter, you can find me on Pinterest, you can find me on LinkedIn, you can find me on Instagram at [@Daniellemmiller]. That's a really important thing, too, as consistent as you can be on your social media platforms, that's always a good thing. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you.

Brian: Yes, it is. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been fabulous. I really appreciate you and your time and I know my audience is going to love it as well.

Danielle: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for having me, Brian. I really appreciate the opportunity. I'm very grateful. So, thank you again.

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