“But my service really is for everyone…”
When I asked a client why she was hesitant to narrow down her ICA (Ideal Client Avatar), this was her answer — it was the answer I was expecting.
I hear this at least a few times a week — that your life-changing offer will benefit anyone (and everyone) who has the pleasure of experiencing it.
And while you may be right about that, there’s power in speaking to one individual person before you speak to the masses.
Let me explain: your offer is one-of-a-kind and really can help a wide variety of people. But when we try to speak to everyone, we, unfortunately, end up speaking to no one. As your messaging starts to get less specific (because you’re catering to a wide variety of goals and challenges), it becomes less impactful.
So, rather than casting a wide net, our goal is to hone in on the one person we want to speak directly to, serve, and support. It may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll be better able to develop an intentional messaging strategy that cuts through the noise — ultimately making a bigger impact.
Your community will feel seen, heard, and supported by your specific messaging. Your ICA will feel aligned with you and your brand because they have confidence that you understand their problems and that you have the solution they need.
All of this leads to a higher conversion rate and will actually increase the amount of paying clients who come from your marketing channels.
Plus, when your ICA is bought into your brand, they will actively engage in your community, champion your programs, and contribute to your movement — ultimately creating a culture where your ICA thrives.
Let’s dig in a little deeper to the importance of knowing your ICA, so you can make changes to your messaging, and create something that makes your ICA feel like they are a part of something so much bigger than themselves.
What is an ICA?
ICA stands for Ideal Client Avatar. It’s a detailed profile that describes the client you want to work with — the most aligned and perfect fit for your unique expertise, values, and vision.
Everything you do in your business (if done successfully) relies on this profile. Your community needs to know 3 things:
That you see and hear them — you know who they are, recognize their presence, and are creating content and community designed for them
That you understand their problems, sympathize with their pains, have an alternate perspective to offer them because you’ve been where they are
That you can help them get to their vision — give the powerful tools to achieve their goals, connect them with like-minded people in your community, and offer support in the form they want and need it
To accomplish all of this, we first need to craft an ICA profile. Once you have a detailed profile, you can find individuals who fit the profile, build meaningful relationships, craft a targeted offer (that facilitates a successful transformation), and create copy and content that converts clients easily.
What you need to know to create your ICA
I recommend breaking down your ICA into four main categories.
Who you help: this is who your ICA is
Demographic information (age, gender, location)
Consumer behaviors (budget, spending habits, brands they buy from)
Values and personality traits
What events they attend + communities they’re apart of
What media they consume (blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc)
Who they are NOT (what traits make them NOT a good fit)
What would offer you credibility in their eyes (media features, brand partnerships, data to share)
This information, while seemingly trivial, makes a big difference in the opportunities you seek out to expand your business, and can add personality to your content.
For example, at Curate Well Co., we know that our ICA knows, likes, and trusts Rising Tide Society (#same), so we pursued collaborating on this piece!
As another example, we know that our ICA loves personal development books by authors like Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle — so we use these as pop culture references in our viral content.
What you help them with: this is what your ICA wants and is challenged by
Desires — big picture, what does your ICA want for themselves
Goals — what goals serve as benchmarks for your ICA on their journey to fulfilling their desires?
Problems — what are the tangible obstacles your ICA faces in your area of expertise
Pains — what is the emotional experience of having those problems? What does it feel like?
False beliefs — what does your ICA currently believe that might be holding them back?
This is debatably the MOST important part of the ICA profile. Successful businesses solve problems — and knowing what our ICA’s problems are allows you to help them in a meaningful way. Knowing this information takes your product or service from “nice to have” to “must have” because it has clear value
For example, we know that one of your ICA’s problems is that she’s struggling to get in front of the right audience, in order to create more consistency (revenue and clients) in her business, and that makes her feel like “I should know better” — after all, she’s an expert in what she does and she’s been wildly celebrated for it in the past, so why can’t she find people who want/need it?!
In addition to tangible tools that teach her what she doesn’t yet know (mastering the business side of her business), our offers include connection to other women in our community, so she can collaborate and cross-pollinate with other women (who feel the exact same way she does) to expand her reach. It’s knowing this information that makes your offer the one your ICA wants.
How you help them: this is how you solve your ICA’s problems, and make results possible
Your credentials and qualifications
Your story, brand, values, and polarizing belief
Your UVP (unique value proposition) — this should include 3 elements: your company, you as a person, and your offer
Their vision — the results they’re looking for
A summary of the transformation you cause — your noble promise
This part of the profile bridges the gap between you and your ICA. It helps you identify the difference only you can make for them and how to create more connection with your community and ideal clients.
For example, people come to Curate Well Co. for business consulting. They want to scale sustainably and intentionally — without losing connection to their community. Part of our UVP is that we are organized AF. The structures and systems we teach allow them to meet these goals. While there are a lot of business coaches and consultants out there — none are as detail oriented as we are when it comes to putting systems in place that honor the human elements of business.
Why you help them: this is your belief system that drives your impact
What you believe about your ICA and your industry
Consequences — what will their day to day be like if they don’t solve their problems
Stakes — what’s really at stake for them if they don’t realize their desires
This is your bigger why — your ultimate motivator… and theirs. We strive to create content that is empowering, not driven by fear. However, sometimes we all need a powerful reminder of what really matters.
Here’s an example: at Curate Well Co., we believe that women can change the world without wearing makeup. To us this means you can show up as exactly who you are and impact tens of thousands of people. We believe that details are driven by data and that spreadsheets are sexy. This means we think you don’t have to sacrifice practicality in your pursuit of possibility, and that you can scale while still making each individual feel seen.
Here’s what I want you to take away from this breakdown: Your products and services are just as much about your clients and community as they are about you and your business. And when we can come from this belief, your ICA will feel like you’re speaking directly to them (for that reading-their-mind, how-did-you-know, you-totally-get-me vibe).
I often find that the businesses that struggle to grow are those whose content, messaging and offer isn’t relatable and doesn’t resonate with their audience. But with a strong ICA profile — you’ll deliver powerful, relevant, and impactful content to your community.
How to create your ICA profile
A significant component to crafting your ICA profile is conducting market research.
Start by completing a profile with the information you DO have. Compile the information from the clients you resonated the most with. Then, review your DMs, emails, and even conduct an audit on your content to see what resonated most with your audience. Once you have all the information available and laid out in front of you, look for themes. Does something seem apparently true for everyone throughout? Maybe they all shop at the same stores or all struggle with the same limiting belief.
Next, fill in any gaps. Our favorite ways to conduct market research are to:
Poll your community on social media with targeted questions
Gain quick valuable feedback is by using Instagram engagement stickers — question boxes, pols, quizzes — to gain real-time data.
This allows us to reach out to the participant if we have further questions on the subject at hand (and it lets them know we truly care about their opinion!).
Send a market research form to your email list or post it on message boards
This allows your ICA to give more detailed answers — be sure to note the exact language they use in open-ended questions!
Interview ideal clients and your best-fit clients
Hop on a Zoom call with the clients you’ve enjoyed working with the most and dig deeper about their experience in their business (not necessarily working with you) — be sure to hit record!
Sneak questions into your application, onboarding and offboarding forms
Ask leads about their goals, challenges and pain points in an application form, ask them what media they consume in their onboarding form, and ask them what they think your UVP is in the offboarding form!
Our secret sauce? Be sure to note their answers in their words (not yours!). When it comes to creating content that resonates and messaging that is relatable, using your ICA’s language is key. Even if a sentence isn’t technically grammatically correct, by replicating the formatting in our own messaging, you’ll present yourself as relatable to your community. You’ll bring a more human aspect to your marketing, because they’ll recognize that you speak like them!
How to measure the efficacy of your ICA profile
Your community will give you real-time feedback on whether or not your content is resonating with them.
Pay attention to what people are saying in your direct messages, comments, and engagement stickers in response to your messaging:
“Omg it’s like you’re in my head”
“How did you know?!”
“This is literally me”
“I’m obsessed with everything you’re putting out”
“This is exactly what I needed to hear today”
If you truly have a deep understanding of your ICA, these are things you’ll hear often!
Not seeing these? Then it’s time for more market research — rather than assuming you know everything about your ICA, make sure to ask them!
Crafting your ICA profile, while important to refine as a foundational step in starting your business or scaling with new offers, is something that will evolve and change over time. You will likely want to re-evaluate your ICA profile once per year to make sure you, your services and product, and your audience are all in complete alignment. Just as your business evolves, so does your ICA.
You’re not for everyone, and that’s okay
Remember that story we started with at the beginning? Our client was adamant her services were for everyone — hopefully after reading this article you can see how, while perhaps fundamentally true, she was missing out on a huge opportunity to build a deeper relationship with a smaller group of people.
Yes, your expertise could very likely have a positive impact on so many different types of people. Yet, there is power in getting clear on who you really want to serve.
And here’s the thing: by creating more clarity in your ICA profile, you will turn some people off. Your message is no longer neutral — it favors a certain perspective and experience, it’s bold and brave, and it’s a stand for what you believe in. And that’s a fantastic place to be in. Because the people who resonate with what you’re saying will really resonate.
By always having your Ideal Client Avatar top of mind (and your business) it will allow your message to land more powerfully — creating a greater impact for your clients, building a strong community around consistent messaging, and catalyzing your movement as a whole.
How well do you know your ICA? Take our interactive quiz to find out!