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HOW TO TALK ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS

To get clients, you need to talk about your business -- online, in writing, in groups, and one-to-one. But for many self employed professionals, there's a missing piece to acting on this advice. How, exactly, do you talk about it?

What do you say to make clients want to hire you? What words do you use? Who are the people you say these things to? Read on for some answers to these questions.

1. Speak directly to your ideal client.

Whether you are conversing with someone you meet or writing copy for your website, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in marketing is to address too broad an audience. When you try to please everyone with your marketing message, instead of attracting more people, you're likely to attract less.

Look at this through the client's eyes. If you're a psychotherapist who needs a website, would you rather work with a web designer who specializes in designing sites for therapists, counselors, and coaches, or a designer who says she builds sites for any small business?

Targeting your message to the type of client you MOST want to attract allows you to use language specific to their unique problems and goals. You'll be more likely to land exactly those clients you prefer to work with. And, you'll be able to screen out clients who aren't a good fit. Don't be afraid you'll scare off people who don't want what you're offering. That's a good thing.

2. Talk about benefits and results.

Instead of beginning by telling prospective clients about your skills, background, and the technical details of how you do your work, start by explaining what specific benefits they will get from working with you, and what results you can produce for them.

Let's say you are a management consultant who helps teams communicate better. The majority of clients are not so interested in hearing that you are a Certified Management Consultant who has been trained in Nonviolent Communication, and that you use an approach of deepening consciousness to spark transformation. These are factors you might discuss once you are engaged in a sales conversation.

But to gain a prospect's interest in the first place, you must tell them you can help their employees work more productively, reduce workplace conflicts, and build more cohesive teams. These are concrete benefits and results that will get a client's attention.

3. Describe problems you can solve.

One of the best ways to express exactly how you can help a client is to describe some of the problems you solve for them. If you're a landscape architect in California, you could talk about how you help clients choose plants that will do well under both drought and high rainfall conditions. Or as a speaking coach, explain how you assist clients to lose their fear of speaking in public.

A powerful way to accomplish this is to describe the work you did for a similar client with a brief story. What problems did that client come to you with? What did you do for the client to help solve those problems? And as a result of your work, what did the client obtain or achieve?

4. Talk to referral sources as well as prospects.

Yes, you should interact with people in your target market, but also with potential referral sources. In some cases, your prospective client and a referral source may see a problem from different perspectives, so they may need slightly different messages.

For example, as a professional organizer, you might tell a realtor, "Your clients need me as soon as they start thinking about selling their home, so I can help them clear their clutter. This will remove an obstacle to them deciding to work with you, and get their house ready to be put on the market more quickly."

5. Position yourself as a unique solution, not a generic commodity.

Your clients may encounter dozens of professionals in your field to choose from. They might find hundreds of websites in your category, many of which may have a higher rank than yours. To get potential clients to find and choose you instead of the competition, you must be special.

You can declare your specialness in a variety of ways. Define a specialized target market so your audience knows you understand their problems and goals. Or focus on a particular set of issues you have the unique expertise to address. Or develop a proprietary approach that makes you stand out. Any of these avenues (or all of them at once) will lead clients to select you instead of others in your profession.

In my book Get Clients Now!, I define marketing as "telling people what you do, over and over." True enough, but you also need to tell them effectively. Otherwise, your words may just fall on deaf ears.

Copyright © 2014, C.J. Hayden

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