>A few months after I started my business 25-plus years ago, I was delivering a workshop one evening on an ideal topic to attract likely clients. And sure enough, the room was full of self-employed professionals who were excellent prospects to hire me as a business coach. I presented what I thought was a value-packed program, and my audience seemed to be learning useful material from me. “I’m sure to land some clients from this,” I thought.
After the workshop, a woman came up to me hesitantly. “This class was very helpful,” she said. “But I’m wondering… would it be possible for me to hire you to work with me personally? I don’t know if you do that.”
As a self-employed professional, have you defined your marketing niche? You may think so, but a closer look might reveal that your chosen niche isn’t as effective as it could be. You may have selected a target market, but have no defined specialty among the services you offer. Or you may be clear on your professional specialty, but vague on who to target as prospective clients.
A clearly defined niche for an independent professional is one that spells out both a target market and a specialty needed by that market.
It seems that a considerable amount of marketing and sales advice to self-employed professionals is aimed at extroverts. “Go to networking events and meet new people,” the authorities say. “Speak in front of groups.” “Call people up and chat with them.”
If you are an introvert, these experts might as well be telling you to fly to the moon. What if you don’t enjoy public gatherings, dislike being the center of attention, and hate to call strangers on the phone? Can you still do well at personal marketing?
We self-employed professionals spend a great deal of our marketing effort on searching for the right words. We read books, take classes, and hire consultants to help us write copy for our marketing materials. Composing web pages, writing sales emails, and drafting ad copy consumes hours or days of precious marketing time.
It appears, though, that many professionals have mistaken all this wordsmithing for productive action.
Don’t get me wrong; the words you use to market yourself are important and deserve your attention. But crafting the message, and effectively delivering the message, are not at all the same thing.
I have a dream for us self-employed professionals. I picture us all making simple marketing and sales plans, working our plans consistently, and as a result, landing all the clients we need. But in order for my dream to come true, we’re going to have to stop letting ourselves be pulled off track by the tempting lure of silver bullet solutions.
The lure of the silver bullet
Maybe you know the ones I mean. There’s always some flavor-of-the-month approach to sales and marketing that you’re hearing about.
Many self-employed professionals believe they don’t know how to sell. You’re justified if you think that of yourself. You didn’t go into business to be a salesperson. You became self-employed because you wanted to help people with web design or personal training or architecture or resumé writing. In order to get clients, you need to have sales conversations, but they aren’t something you’ve ever trained to do. You may even believe you’re no good at them.
Let’s fix that.