Have you ever had a client that was perfect in every way?
They knew what they wanted and what they wanted was inspirational, aspirational, and creatively awesome. It was exactly your niche. They came with a head full of wonderful ideas yet also happy for your input and gave you the breathing space you needed to create your very best work. They understood that your craft takes time and valued your skill – never once questioning your well deserved prices. They just seemed to get you and in return you got them. The result? The most beautiful synergy and collaboration. The end creation? Nothing short of spectacular.
THAT, my friends, is a unicorn client.
Conversely if I were to ask about a time where you’ve stumbled across a client who embodied the exact opposite I’m willing to bet you could chew my ear off for hours about what it was like and how miserable and energy draining the experience was.
So, the only question is – where do you find more of the unicorn clients and less of the other? (shudders) It’s also worth considering at the same time – when YOU are the client how you can be a unicorn client for someone else thus contributing to a shiner, happy world.
The answer, as always, lies with you and not them.
As annoying as that is and as simple as it would be to just blame the outside world, the economy, the unregistered lady down the road selling cupcakes for pennies, or your location… or or or..
Sadly none of that is true and this is all on you.
You see, what you give out directly attracts what you receive both internally (from within you) and externally with your pricing structure, your portfolio and your branding strategies.
Let’s break down the practical stuff first – it’s actionable and less woo woo. As motivation grows with every step if you can get moving, the ball will keep rolling. (If you want to look at woowoo side of things there is a blog post all about the laws of attraction and vibrating higher here.)
Alright! Are you ready to change stuff to attract more unicorns and less of the other? Then let’s get to it!
Set one. Then display it everywhere. The fastest way to get rid of timewasters whose only consideration is price “but I can get it cheaper down the road” is to outprice them upfront. Don’t even invite them into your inbox as it’s a fight you cannot win. You will never be cheap enough and you never need to be. You will never be able to upsell to these people. They are not and will never be – unicorn clients. They will drain your energy and resources and then dump you as soon as someone else is willing to grind for even less. Your minimum price is your choice, mine started at £100 and has uplifted over time to £500.
And weed out the rest. You are literally only as good as your worst piece of work. Think about that. If you are looking through a portfolio of any work across any creative practice, you will find you are less drawn to the amazing pieces (no matter how skilled they are) and more drawn to the most flawed piece you can see. Human nature is a funny old game. You then judge them in terms of suitability based on that.
So, lose the sentimentality and the sweet memories you have attached to a 3-year-out-of-date cake and be cut throat with your portfolio. Schedule in a clear out every 6 months and only leave visible the best you can offer. It is better to have less and each image be stunning than hundreds of pieces where half are now beneath you in price band and skills. If they don’t show where you want to be, bin them.
Fake it ’til you make it:
Literally make what you want to sell. The clients YOU want buy from people that show what they are looking for. They buy from businesses that reflect how they see themselves. If your work is a mash up of styles or cheap and cheerful looking and you spend all your promotional emphasis shouting about how affordable you are then your unicorn client isn’t even going to register your existence. Their eyes are trained to search out higher things. You become invisible to them yet radiate like a beacon of hope to the other end of the spectrum – uh-ho.
Make time to create pieces at the level you want to be at, even if your bread-and-butter money comes from other types of cakes utilise every downtime second to cover stacked dummies for wedding cakes, or create a portfolio stuffed full of sculpted/structured cakes – whatever is your jam. Perhaps if you took on a little less work that was beneath you it would give you a little more time for aspirational creative practice which will always move that needle forwards. Cake it. It’s that simple.
If they can’t see it in your portfolio, they will believe you can’t do it. So, create create create until your friends and family are sick of the sight of it; bake it, photograph it and give it away, make it in dummies – do it however you can but just do it. Every single week.
Create portfolio pieces that match your aspirational unicorn client.
One thing though – don’t sell them for cheap. Ever. Give them to charity, to your neighbours, make them for family birthdays but never ever sell them for cheap. You will never get Unicorn Clients by having the reputation for being cheap. Don’t do it, ever, not even at the start, not even for any excuse. Do not destroy your future for a quick fix start. It’s the biggest false economy out there.
Improve your photography
This one needs a whole blog of its own …. Follow this link for a blog I’ve not yet written.
Think like a brand:
If I say Primark you know what to expect, If I say Gucci you know what to expect. What is it about their brands that tell you you are not going to be able to walk into Gucci and pay Primark’s prices? Your BRAND is what people say about you when you are not in the room. What is your brand saying about you and what can you do about it? How can you emulate the kind of brand your unicorn clients will fall over themselves to be aligned with? More on this later eager beaver – for now, do the thinking…
And finally – when you’ve looked at all that, there is one final piece of the jigsaw to sort:
Get the right eyes on your work:
(clue; they aren’t in Facebook marketplace asking for cheap cakemakers.)
To achieve this, you have to think like a unicorn. Where do your unicorns hang out, what do they like doing, what are their hobbies and interests. What parties do they throw and attend. What are they pinning on inspiration platforms like Pinterest, who are they following on socials? where do they work? What do they work as? where do their kids go to school? What do their kids like?
When you’ve really drilled into where your LOCAL (cakes don’t fly well) unicorns hang out and what they love – find a way of getting your work under their noses.
Maybe that’s a school Summer fayre? Or a stately home wedding fayre? Or a local specialist pony club! Do the research, find the specific groups of people who you think will fit your unicorn client brief and get in their sphere. If you’ve done the steps above before this point, they’ll see you.
Ok, that’s 6 incredibly practical, actionable steps you can take to show your Unicorn Clients you are there and ready to massively exceed their expectations.
And that is the biggest thing, the best thing, the thing that makes this thing called business grow and grow and grow…
When you do come across a unicorn client (which you will) and you win their trust by being the most stellar supplier they have ever encountered, by smashing their expectations 100x over and landing that cake whilst nailing that customer service… they bring their friends. And guess what, unicorns hang out in groups and recommend their suppliers to all their friends…. and that’s why a group of unicorns is called a Blessing.
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