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 might have happened that when you started your business, you told a few people what you were up to and clients just showed up. You may have had the good fortune of not having to work too hard to get noticed or think much about the details of your marketing; things just seemed to take off.
(If you’re saying to yourself, “Is she for real? This actually happens to people, where they don’t have to struggle to get clients, especially at the beginning?” The answer is yes, it’s a real thing.)
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.
When you run your own business, it’s important to get the word out about your offerings. In the simplest sense, that’s called marketing. The word marketing, however, is often enough to send a tiny business owner running for the hills, especially when it’s paired with the word plan.
It’s OK to breathe now.
To the average self-employed professional, following up with prospective clients feels awkward or even scary. You hate making phone calls that might not be welcome. You think you might be pestering people. You worry about being rejected. You aren’t sure what to say. After all, how many times can you ask, “Are you ready for us to work together?”
I get it. My clients and students share concerns like these with me all the time. I’ve even had them myself.