One of my coaching clients complained, “I’m really good at what I do. I shouldn’t have to market myself.” In fact, he is quite good at his profession, but the problem is that not enough prospective clients know about him. Like many professionals, he is reluctant to talk about his capabilities and accomplishments. “It feels like bragging,” he says. “Doesn’t it make me seem unprofessional?”
If thoughts like these often cross your mind, ask yourself this — who are the biggest names in your profession? In your line of work, who might be considered unquestioned experts, those with maximum credibility? Now, how did you get to know about those people’s work?
When I started my business, “everyone” told me I needed to know who my ideal client was. The pressure of figuring out the answer was intimidating; in those early days, my ideal client was anyone who had a pulse and would pay me. Needless to say, that turned out not to be a great answer.
Do you know who your ideal client is-that perfect person or entity you enjoy doing business with? Below are some questions to help you sort out who that is, and why it matters. Knowing the answer to these questions will help your business be more successful and help you sleep better at night, both desirable goals. Let’s dive in.
Language is the currency of marketing. It may seem like getting clients for your business is about money, but communication is the real key. In order for someone to become your client, they must first understand what you are offering, relate your offer to something they want or need, grasp how your service can help them, and determine that you are the right person to do what’s needed.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was on the organizing committee for a huge event. We rented out a venue that could hold 1500 people and hoped to fill it as full as possible. We engaged a well-known author and speaker. We had multiple teams of volunteers handling the event promotion, venue logistics, lunches, back of the room book sales, travel and other arrangements for the speaker. In short, we were on it.
As event day drew closer, we noticed ticket sales were lower than hoped. Not to worry, we thought; we know that many people wait until the week or two before an event to buy their tickets. Nonetheless, the promotion team redoubled their efforts to get the word out. One week before the event, ticket sales still lagging, we realized we had a serious problem and were not likely to meet our goal. Again, the promotion team made one last effort to get the word out.
When the big day arrived, we had fewer than 100 people in attendance. We barely broke even on the event and our efforts to fill the organization’s coffers — and bring a message of hope and transformation to a big audience — were, well… failing.
As a self-employed professional, the view that prospective clients hold of you is crucial. What you want is for clients to see you as an expert. How clients perceive your level of expertise will influence not only whether or not they hire you, but also how much they’re willing to pay, how easy it is for you to close the sale, and whether clients award you big projects or small ones.
It may feel like you, the person to be hired, don’t have much power over clients’ perceptions. You may believe that clients will make their own decisions about how — or whether — to work with you, regardless of what you do. But that’s not true. There is much you can do to influence how potential clients view you before you ever have your first conversation with them. Here are seven ways you can influence clients to perceive you as an expert.
One of the worst marketing mistakes an independent professional can make is creating a marketing plan that consists of activities you don’t enjoy and aren’t good at. There’s no boss looking over your shoulder, so who’s going to make you do things you don’t want to? It’s much more likely that a plan you find distasteful and difficult simply won’t be executed.
Professionals often tell me they don’t like marketing or selling, but many times I find that what they truly dislike is the tactics they’ve been trying to use. A simple change of technique can frequently do wonders to turn around an anti-marketing attitude. The best marketing and sales tactics are the ones you will actually perform instead of avoiding. If a marketing activity makes use of your natural talents and preferences, you’ll be much more likely to find it enjoyable, and therefore easy to do.