Get Crystal Clear on your Ideal Customer with Conversion Copywriter Holly WIlliams

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Being able to attract and serve the right audience is crucial to your success in business. But how do you get crystal clear on your ideal customer? In this week’s episode, I talk about the 3 traps that most entrepreneurs fall into. Then I invite my agency’s copywriter, Holly Williams, onto the show to give you 3 quick and easy ways to settle the “ideal client” mystery once and for all.

3 Lessons We Learned From This Episode

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Connect with Holly Williams

Connect with Kyle + The Story Engine

Kyle Gray: (00:37)

Over this year, I’ve had the privilege to coach hundreds of entrepreneurs. On their story and how to share it on the stage and through digital marketing. After working with this many people, both in person, working with them online, and one on one, or group coaching formats, you start to see some patterns emerge. Some have the key components together to thrive. When they describe what they do, I lean in. I’m interested to learn more. And others who leave me feeling a little underwhelmed or confused.


Kyle Gray: (01:17)

Now, what separates them in terms of their story? It’s not intelligence. It’s not money. It’s not how long they’ve been playing the ” game” of entrepreneurship. It’s not their looks. It almost always boils down to how well they know their ideal customer. You can quickly tell how well they know their ideal customer by the response they give to a simple two-part question: Who do you help, and what problem do you solve? The answer I hope for is a short, maybe a sentence or two that clearly explains I help these kinds of people with this problem with more of this good thing or less of that bad thing.


Kyle Gray: (02:06)

So, here’s my example. I help entrepreneurs, coaches, and influencers use storytelling to attract their ideal audience and inspire them to take massive action. Now, if I’m honest. It’s not easy to come up with something like this, even though I think about these things all the time, to come up with it for myself is something. It’s a process that I’ve been refining over months, and months, and years, and years. While recording this episode, I’m sharing it with my copywriter, Holly, who we’re going to hear from a little bit later. She gave me a few suggestions on how to improve mine. And I want to encourage you if you’re starting that it takes time and practice to master this kind of skill and these ideas. It’s good to get help along the way.


Kyle Gray: (02:56)

Let’s explore three examples I’ve put together of cases when somebody doesn’t quite have clarity on their audience, and what that looks like, and how that sounds. Number one is the overtrained practitioner. The overtrained practitioner is someone with extensive training and experience in a specific area, and they often know how to solve the problem that they work with really well, but they don’t know how their customer experiences the problem or how to communicate it with them.


Kyle Gray: (03:27)

So what does a conversation with an overtrained practitioner sound like? Hi, who do you help, and what problems do you solve? I help people with SEO. Oh, I thought SEO was a solution, not a problem. Yes. Once you figure out the right keywords, you can change your header tags to optimize your widgets and increase your monthly APMs, which in turn increases your wizard ranking. Hopefully, you’re still listening to me after this.


Kyle Gray: (04:03)

I’ll let an overtrained practitioner talk to see how long they can go, and they can speak for quite a long time. The good news for the overtrained practitioner is that they don’t need to change what they do with their clients. They need to learn to explain what they do. They understand their skills but not their customers, and so they try to share as much knowledge as possible to compensate for that, which creates an information fire hose. We’ll talk about the solution for this a little bit later in the episode. But, now let’s go on to example number two, shallow Hal.


Kyle Gray: (04:51)

Some of you may have seen the corny old movie called Shallow Hal, which is maybe 10 or 15 years old, where Jack Black is a shallow guy who only looks at the surface appearance in women he dates. He gets hypnotized by I’m pretty sure it’s Tony Robbins and to only see the inner beauty of somebody. Shallow Hal, like Jack Black, only has a surface idea of their customer and the problem they experience, but they’ve not done the work to get clear on the ideal customer. Their messages and promise often feel watered down and generalized. So what does a conversation with a shallow Hal sound like? Who do you help, and what problems do you solve? I help executive and entrepreneurial men with brain fog. What happens once you fix the brain fog? They have more power; they have more energy; they have an all-day focus, and are more productive.


Kyle Gray: (05:53)

So, Shallow Hal is a bit harder to spot. What they say sounds good, and it seems like it fits, but something is missing. Again, they’ve not done the work to bring the original language of their customer forward, which leads to mediocre results. A message like this does not land with their ideal clients. There’s nothing for them to remember or connect to it. Words like brain power, focus, and productivity are all great things, but no executive man is lying awake at night thinking, “I wish I had some more brain power and productivity right now to get me through this.” They want that big promotion. They want to do more in less time so they can spend time with their kids. They want to have an extra advantage over those stupid selfie-taking millennials he fears are gunning for his office chair.


Kyle Gray: (06:44)

You see, everyone has brain fog these days, but nobody uses the words brain fog to describe what’s happening to them. The key is to understand your specific audience and the language they use to describe their problem. Connect with your customer, whether you’re a health coach, a marketer, or anything in between.


Kyle Gray: (07:07)

Example number three, the too-much-saucers. There’s an Instagram account I follow called Jerry of the Day. They share videos of hilarious ski and snowboarding crashes and antics. My favorite is the Too Much Sauce Tuesday, where typically some young kid is going for a considerable ski jump. They get a lot of speed and overshoot whatever they are doing and end up landing in the bushes, or snow, or just really far away. Here are a couple of my favorite Too Much Sauce Tuesday videos.


Too Much Sauce Tuesday 1

Too Much Sauce Tuesday 2


Kyle Gray: (07:46)

Anyway, a too-much-saucer is somebody who understands their audience and provides a quality solution for them. But they don’t understand their audience well enough to give the right fit. So what does a conversation with a too-much-saucer sound like? Who do you help, and what problems do you solve? I support stay-at-home moms with starting a business that gives them career freedom. Whoa, very cool. How do you do that? I have a 28-step challenge where I put together a website, a webinar, all their social media, and help them find their first ten customers. Are you getting a lot of people into your challenge? No, they keep asking for just the webinar component. But if you don’t have a good website and use social media, then it won’t make a difference. You need to have all these pieces together.


Kyle Gray: (08:39)

You see, the too-much-saucer understands the problem of their customer, but underestimates how much of a solution they need. They create a $10,000 program for a customer who only wants to spend $500, or they create a $100 solution for a customer that’s ready for the $10,000 program. One of the essential parts of truly understanding your audience is being able to gauge what kind of solution. How much of an investment they need to make, what’s a significant first step, and also be thinking, “If they can make the first step with me, what are the second and third steps?” The key lesson here is that understanding your customer impacts decisions much more than just your marketing and your messaging. It impacts how you design the solutions that you offer them, and how to provide a solution that’s a perfect fit for where they are right now.


Kyle Gray: (09:36)

All right, so we’ve had some fun teasing some fake example people that aren’t inspired by anybody I’ve ever known or met. So what does somebody who knows their customer look like and sound like? I’ve got a couple of fun examples.


Kyle Gray: (09:54)

One person who I met at an event a few weeks ago, Jen Miller, has a training program called The Blissful Bride. Jen Miller works with women in high-pressure careers, and she helps them boost their energy, reduce anxiety, and increase their focus. Which is similar to the example of the shallow Hal above, but with a small and crucial twist. She works with women who are engaged to be married. These women have the stress of their career, but also the added weight of an impending wedding coming. But, this small detail changes everything. Instead of describing brain fog and all-day energy, she talks about being able to look great and feel great on one of the most important days of their life. There’s a sense of urgency to work with her because a wedding is on the horizon. And perhaps most importantly, what she does is memorable. It makes it easier for others to refer her to her ideal customer when anybody talks about


Kyle Gray: (11:00)

Weddings or being engaged or the stress and anxiety that comes with it, she’s going to pop into their heads much more than somebody who would talk about general brain fog in this case. And that’s the kind of clarity and messaging you need.


Kyle Gray: (11:16)

For a different track in kind of an eCommerce perspective, let’s look at Warby Parker. Warby Parker is an eyeglass company that understands what its audience is looking for when they’re shopping online. Their homepage does not talk about how much their glasses will improve vision or boast that they have the best-looking eyeglasses or even the most affordable ones. The biggest concern facing someone shopping for eyeglasses online is, will they look good and fit my face? It’s a scary thing to order up a pair of expensive glasses only to find they slide down your nose all the time, or they make your face look long or whatever.


Kyle Gray: (11:59)

So the first message people see on their homepage, “Try five frames at home for free.” Oh my gosh, problem solved. I can get five, try on a bunch, and see what’s right for me and then ship the rest back. No problem. No big deal. All of a sudden I didn’t just buy one pair of eyeglasses, but I bought five because I like them all. Warby Parker, you sly dog. I am onto you.


Kyle Gray: (12:25)

Example number three, Urbanears. Now I’m maybe a little bit strange. I’m still a fan of wired earbuds. I lose them often enough anyway, so the thought of buying Bluetooth ones that I would probably lose more frequently for twice the price is tough. I’m not sure if this is the best example anymore because the headphones I loved aren’t available. I wish they still were. Anyway, while many headphones boast superior quality or cover their headphones in bright Rastafarian colored plastic, Urbanears understood what life was like with earbuds. Instead of talking about excellent amps or ohms or whatever they use to measure sound, they made using headphones easy and delightful.


Kyle Gray: (13:18)

The Kransen model of ear beds had a little Lego-style snaps that you could use to snap the earbuds together behind you so they would hang around your neck like a necklace and down plugged into your phone. I would reach behind my neck, pop my headphones in, and I can push the button, and I’m talking. And it was nice to have while being active. They understood that there’s also a law of physics that makes earbuds more tangled as the importance of the call you want to answer increases. Leaving you panicked, tugging at a spider web knot of cords. So they coded their cable in fabric, and they had this brilliant little loop system where you could coil up your earbuds and then use the headphone jack and loop it around the cable to keep it organized and tidy in your pocket. No more tangles. Yes, yes.


Kyle Gray: (14:15)

I know some of you are saying, “Well Kyle, Bluetooth wireless headphones fix all of those problems as well.” But I’m a grandpa. I don’t use Snapchat either. And those of you that have been listening to this podcast for long enough to know that I have particular angst for Bluetooth headphones. So Urbanears, hear me out, bring back the Kransens.


Kyle Gray: (14:38)

And to close things out. I wanted to hear from somebody that I trust on this matter. Her name is Holly Williams. She works on my team as a copywriter, and she has a brilliant process for understanding, researching, and getting to know the customer. And not just know them, but know them on a level of Seinfeld detail. Like the way the comedian Jerry Seinfeld on his TV show or doing standup comedy would just observe these awkward, weird moments that happened in almost everybody’s lives that everybody could relate to but were so subtle that most of us never talked about it or noticed it, which is really what made that TV show so famous.


Kyle Gray: (15:20)

All right, so let’s hand it over to Holly and talk to her about how we can know our clients on a Seinfeld level of detail.


Kyle Gray: (15:28)

Holly Williams, thank you so much for joining me on the Story Engine Podcast today.


Holly Williams: (15:33)

Oh, thanks so much for having me, Kyle. I’m so excited to talk mainly to this audience because I serve it with you. So it’s great to reach out to all these people.


Kyle Gray: (15:43)

Now I was talking you up before we had you on the call, and we are all very excited to learn a couple of your ideas about your research process and how you get clear on the ideal clients. Can you share some of the few gems that you find give you some surprising insights and that people can use to get clear on their audience today?


Holly Williams: (16:09)

Yeah, absolutely. I’m thrilled to help in this area. So I’m just going to use only three because there are many. As you know, when we work with our clients and our agency, we go deep. I want to recommend them because you don’t want to go from just your same old source. There’s a lot of different views that you can come to with interviewing your audience or getting to know your ideal client.


Holly Williams: (16:40)

So the first one is if you have an audience, if you have a list, if you have a Facebook platform that maybe you’re using or Instagram, then I would encourage that you survey your audience and asking them some fundamental questions. Really out number one like who they are, but also why are they coming to you? What pain are you solving for them? An excellent question is, “what was going on for you when you bought this product.” Because a lot of times, that’ll give you insight into what’s going on in your client’s mind.


Holly Williams: (17:31)

Let’s say it was someone with chronic pain. They’re not just going to say something like, “Oh well, my back was hurting the whole time.” You get this whole story. You get this part about how they were having trouble getting out of bed or that they couldn’t lift their children anymore. And it just reached this crescendo moment where they were like, “I need to do something.” And all those pieces of information are essential because that lets you tap into a person. It’s not just, “Oh, the person with chronic pain.” It allows you know, “Oh, this is John, and he’s 48. He wants to work at having a healthy body for the rest of his life.” So it personalizes things when you can survey your audience and get their feedback.


Holly Williams: (18:16)

I typically recommend asking five to seven questions. You want to go maybe as many as ten, but you don’t want to go more than that. You want to get a few essential pointers from people.


Holly Williams: (18:28)

And then the second thing I would recommend, and this is a little bit different, and again, we want to look at some different viewpoints. I recommend going to do Amazon reviews and looking at product reviews. So let’s say you’re a service provider, somebody who is a chiropractor who helps people. You can go and find other authors who’ve written about, let’s say something to do with the back and look at some of the comments in the section there. There’s a lot of, again, people are so willing to share the story, and this surprises me in Amazon reviews especially. Sometimes you hear this incredible amount of language and narrative that people share where they’re so happy to have finally found an answer that they’re willing to share a lot about their pain, a lot about their suffering, and then talk about how this book solved it. And so when you see those things, that can really highlight to you the individual needs that you can hit on as a service provider or a business with your products.


Kyle Gray: (19:33)

Something I’d like to add in there. There’s lots of different ratings of Amazon. There are five-star ratings, which I sometimes agree that there’s quality and depth. And when people are pouring their heart out, whether it’s a five star, whether it’s a one star, if they really spent a lot of time on it, it’s looking at. But it’s also worth looking at the middle stars. The three-star ones are particularly good because they usually they have things they like and then they say, “Oh it’s weak in this area or it could be improved here.” The ones that are just one stars are usually the person that has just had a bad day or haven’t had their coffee yet and are just rolling around. And the five star ones are sometimes just a lot of friends or if they don’t have anything like very deep and constructive to say.


Kyle Gray: (20:26)

Another cool thing that just came to mind as you were describing that is there’s people, there’s Amazon top reviewers. And I don’t know that much about them, but I think that an opportunity if there is a specific top reviewer that you can identify in your niche, I would look and see what they’re doing and what they’re saying about all the different books in the area or other things they’ve reviewed that might be a research treasure trove. Once you look at the reviews, there’s a little green tag next to their name to look for.


Holly Williams: (20:58)

Yeah, that is a great tip as well. And you’ve mentioned the three-star reviews where they talk about where things are weak and being strategic about that. Pay attention to what they’re saying this was weak in because that’s actually something that if you see a lot of comments in this particular topic where people are saying, “This was really great, but it didn’t have a lot of practical, like how do I do this in the morning?” Or, “How do I do this with a family?” Or, “How do I fit this into my busy schedule?” As soon as you start seeing those repeated messages, then you can be very strategic with your own messaging and say, “Okay, I’m going to come along with the solution for that.” And you then make yourself stand out as someone different to that ideal client saying, “I offer something different here for you.” So that is a really good way to just kind of come at it from a different angle.


Holly Williams: (21:56)

And then my third suggestion is just interviewing


Holly Williams: (22:00)

Viewing your past clients or people who’ve bought your product. I mean, they’re going to tell you so many things. And sometimes it’s great. You and I, we work together and I will interview people who’ve worked with you. It’s nice working with a copywriter that way because I can get sometimes some different answers than maybe you would get from interviewing your own clients, right? I can find out a little bit more about the experience. And so that’s why hiring a copywriter is a really great move when you’re looking at creating messaging for this ideal client.


Holly Williams: (22:37)

And so just being able to ask some questions in terms of how was their experience? Why did they buy this? What was the moment where they said, “Yes, I’m going to hit the buy button and do this and commit to this process,” what made them say yes? Or even interviewing people who did or didn’t buy your product or didn’t sign up with you and saying, “Why didn’t you? What made you say not this time around?” Because sometimes in there, you can find out are you attracting the ideal client or is there something in your message that’s missing that you could really come alongside and communicate differently with some of your wording to attract the ideal customer to work with you.


Kyle Gray: (23:21)

So I would wonder, somebody who didn’t buy from me, I’d have trouble expecting them to be willing to participate in a survey, but that’s not the case. Is it more common even for people who didn’t buy to respond to reviews?


Holly Williams: (23:43)

Yeah, well, it’s interesting because sometimes you can send out a survey, particularly after a launch or a product launch. You can send, “Hey, why didn’t you purchase? I’d love to know, take two minutes and tell me.” And I’m surprised by the number of people who did. And usually, it’s a two-minute survey. Like why didn’t you buy it? And it’s like, “I didn’t have the money this time, or I didn’t have the time to take the course, or I didn’t have … it just didn’t seem like it was right for me.”


Holly Williams: (24:14)

And taking the time to learn their objections really can help you identify how you can meet their needs the next time around. But yeah, I’m always surprised people do respond with that. And I think a lot of times there’s a hope that they could work with you and then, of course, you do get some grouchy people who always give you kind of funny one sentence comments about things like, “I don’t want to work with you,” or something like that.


Kyle Gray: (24:43)

Fair enough. So I think those are excellent tips, and that brings a lot of different ways that people can go more in-depth and examine various elements of their audience. And time and time again, it’s such an important because it’s part of the process of, as you’re learning more, I think it’s something we are constantly doing, and we are continuously learning, and it helps us refine our message, which is something that’s been kind of an internal discussion right now.


Kyle Gray: (25:15)

Even what our powerful promise, our signature statement one-liner is, and also in the writing of this episode, we discussed some variations. Then we mentioned to another team member, Jamie, that we were doing this, and there was yet another process that we’re going through. So can you tell me a little bit about your perspective in working on a message like this, and what are the crucial things to bring forward and always be refining?


Holly Williams: (25:47)

Yeah, so I’ll give a couple of tips because when we were working on this episode, you sent over your statement, and I was like, “I think we need to refine this. I think we can do this stronger.” And you mentioned the word fluid, and I think our agency is going through a lot of transformation, and we are discovering who we are more and more. And as we see bigger wins with our clients, we’re refining that. But, let me read the statement here, what you originally had, and then I’ll talk about how I improved it. So when we were speaking, you said, “I help entrepreneurs, coaches, and influencers just like you use stories to communicate what you do and offer to those who need it most in a way that will help them or will get them to take action.”


Holly Williams: (26:39)

A great test when you’re writing out your sentence for yourself, for your business, is actually to read it out loud. So when I read this statement out loud, it just felt like a mouthful. And you could even hear a couple of minutes ago when I was reading it; I stumbled over the words that I was saying. So that is a great way to see, am I clear? Am I concise with what I want to say? So working with you, Kyle, I know how passionate you are about the clients that you choose. I know how excited you are about storytelling. So I had to find a way, could we make this simpler? Could we take those ideas that you have, and knowing who your ideal client is, how can we match those?


Holly Williams: (27:25)

So then I just refined it a little bit, and I said this statement, ” I help entrepreneurs, coaches, and influencers use storytelling to attract their ideal audience and inspire them to take massive action.” And so that you can see is more precise, concise. So let’s break down that sentence so that people can hear it and understand it. So right away what you do, I help. And then we go right into the who. You help entrepreneurs, coaches, and influencers. By doing what? Using storytelling to attract their ideal audience. But we don’t stop there, because once they have learned how to attract their ideal customer, what I know you are most passionate about Kyle, is that you want to help the people that you’re coaching and training. You want to see them have clients that take massive action that join with what their purpose is and see the change that your clients want to make.


Holly Williams: (28:28)

So writing the statement was very easy for me because I know you and I know your passion for what you’re doing. When we’re talking about how to make a statement like this. We include a download in the show notes; just a straightforward explanation is what you do, who you help, how you can help them, and what you want the end goal to be. And so we’ll include a short statement that you can fill in the blanks if you need some help with that. And for us too, this is fluid right now. We are discussing how we make this in our agency. But for now, that’s where we settled.


Kyle Gray: (29:12)

Yeah. And along with this in the show notes, I would invite anybody to post their statement that they come up with using the template and Holly, and I will take a look and respond to them if anybody puts them in there. Cause I’m just interested in this and it’s an experiment. It’s something that is always refining. You learn something at a workshop; you add it in. You learn something new about your audience; you take something away.


Kyle Gray: (29:38)

And it’s not something that needs to be set in stone. I mean, sometimes it is on printed materials and things like that, but it’s something you want to be experimenting with and testing and growing. And I think a lot of this is always a process. It’s still good to be asking these questions, refining your message, and testing who you are. So thank you so much for giving us those insights into what the key components are.


Holly Williams: (30:09)

Yeah. You bet. And I want to touch on before we wrap up here, Kyle, on the word experiment that you used, because I think sometimes we get cerebral about building our business and we’re like, “If I write this down, I’ve got to be committed to this statement.” And a lot of times, working with different people, we see that they’re terrified to commit to a statement. But I like your word experiment, being curious, playing around with these words, and these ideas. I think that if people out there need permission to play with their words, you’ve got it. Play, figure it out and share it with us.


Kyle Gray: (30:47)

Let’s hear it. All right, thanks for joining us, Holly. And thanks for listening to the Story Engine podcast.

Kyle Gray:

Thanks for listening to the Story Engine Podcast. Be sure to check out the show notes and resources mentioned in this episode and every other episode at


If you’re looking to learn more about how to use storytelling to grow your business, then check out my new book, Selling With Story: How to Use Storytelling to Become an Authority, Boost Sales, and Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Audience. This book will equip you with actionable strategies and templates to help you share your unique value and build trust in presentations, sales, and conversations, both online and offline. Learn more at 


Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.