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.
Do you err on the side of not being assertive enough because you’re afraid you’ll come off as sharky when talking to a potential client?
I know I did.
Those early days of business, when I was eager to get clients, yet didn’t really know how to do that, I vacillated between being too assertive, AKA sharky, and not assertive enough. Those were some uncomfortable days to be sure!
I’m a big fan of using attraction strategies to fill your marketing pipeline as a self-employed professional. Attraction-based tactics like blogging or publishing articles, posting on social media, and generating media publicity can all be effective ways to bring prospective clients into your sphere. Under the right circumstances, promotional events and advertising can work also.
And… attraction strategies alone are rarely enough to build a thriving business.
“How can I improve my marketing?” one of my students asked me. “I’ve spent hours and hours trying to get clients, and none of my efforts seem to pay off.”
I asked my self-employed student just one question: “What would you say is the missing ingredient in your marketing?”
He thought about it for a moment. “Well,” he said, “I don’t think I’m networking in the right places. I seem to meet a lot of jobseekers and salespeople, but I’m not connecting with corporate decision-makers or meeting other consultants like myself who might be able to give me referrals. That’s who I really need to be meeting. Say, I’d better find some new groups to network with!”