Researching Ideal Prospects: A Case Study

woman working at desk

Last week Allison Smith read my post very carefully and responded with this question: Do you have resources on how to do this diligent research of ideal prospects? So … she’s become our first case study on how to reach your ideal target market.

Allison owns Dandelion Digital, providing companies with event photography, social media consulting and branded photography. A military move has recently brought Allison to Nova Scotia from Alberta so, in many ways, she’s building a brand new business. And, given our global pandemic, she really can’t rely on clients for event photography, at least not in the near future.

What can Alison do to define, find and approach her ideal target market?

Allison’s business tag line is: “I help entrepreneurs POST WITH PURPOSE through photography and social media.” With a wealth of entrepreneurs that could be ideal clients, one way to avoid becoming completely overwhelmed is to first define her market geographically. If Allison travels long distances, she will end up working with fewer clients and her pricing will need to include larger expenses.

Fortunately Allison lives in Beaver Bank. This gives her easy access to the thriving business communities in Beaver Bank, Sackville, Bedford and East Hants. This is where she can focus her attention to find ideal prospects.

All of these communities have business associations:

In addition, there are a variety of specialized business groups within these areas, such as the Greater Burnside Business Association

Next, Allison wants to spend time analyzing her existing clients. She wants to identify which clients were the easiest to work with, the most thrilled with her work, brought her more than one project, etc. What do these clients have in common? What industries do they represent? What allowed her to create such a strong partnership with them? What problem did she solve for them when they first hired her? She can also speak with these clients and ask: “Why me? What did you most enjoy about working with me?” 

With this information, Allison should have an idea of the type of businesses that most need her services and that will provide repeat business. Given that photography and purposeful images are part of her brand, my guess is her ideal clients require such images on a consistent basis for websites and social media.

Examples could include architects, developers, real estate agents, bakeries, hair salons, pet groomers … businesses that know they attract potential customers through professional images.

The next step is to create a list of businesses, in the chosen communities, that fit the defined criteria. Then, with coffee or tea at the ready, start investigating the current online profiles of these businesses. They should already be active on social. If Allison has to convince a company to embrace social media, they are not her ideal client. They should be posting images but perhaps those images could/should be of a higher quality. Images should be an important part of their website but perhaps have not been updated for quite some time. Their social media profiles, while once consistent, have started to lag, an indication that someone is struggling.

There is no doubt that this level of research is time-consuming… but so is spending time with prospects that are not ideal. Once Allison has been through this process, she will have a list of companies she believes she can best serve. The next step is to inspire a conversation with the decision-makers at these companies.

We can all do detailed online research and successfully identify our ideal target market but, until we speak with these prospects, our research is incomplete. It is in conversation that we truly identify who we can serve. 

What should Allison say when she contacts these companies? How will she inspire conversation? I include ideas in this post.

Would you like to be profiled here as a case study? Get in touch.


Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

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