[This is one in a series of articles based on reader requests for coaching. If you’d like help on a money or other self-employment issue, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
About 30 years ago (but who’s counting?), I had an assignment in Zoology. We were to identify 30-some local plant species and bring in specimens.
Some species were easy to identify. But some were not. To the untrained eye and impatient eye, they all looked alike.
Which brings us to this week’s issue: help focusing your marketing when your just-right clients, in this case professional women, don’t cluster in any way you can see.
The FOCUS Method
When prospective just-right clients clients don’t cluster in any way you can see, you need to FOCUS.
Find a Point of Focus
Bringing your just-right clients into focus begins with finding a specific group to focus on. Think about the kinds of issues that people in the larger group face. What are their pressing challenges or urgent desires?
In the case of professional women, some issues might be:
* Nourishing their families when time is short.
* Finding just right child care.
* Dressing professionally and distinctively on a budget.
* Having a commanding presence without being brusque and hard.
* Inspiring teams to innovate.
* Investing wisely in green companies.
The list of issues within the workplace and without could go on and on. At this stage, don’t worry about finding something all professional women have in common. Instead, think about all the issues that a subset of your people might have.
Opt for a Specific Issue
Examine your list of pressing challenges and urgent desires. Identify the subset that attract you. The ones that intrigue you, inspire you, or in which you have unique expertise.
Then opt for one.
I know this step is hard. But please, please, if you are struggling to find clients, do it. This is the turning point that determines whether your message will stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Commit Wholeheartedly to Your Point of Focus
Once you have opted to meet a specific challenge or urgent desire, commit to serving the people who have it. Commit wholeheartedly, not just your head.
Committing wholeheartedly means fanning the flames of your interest and inclination. Cultivating a hearty appetite for meeting the needs of your just-right clients. Inviting your whole body and soul to feel the desire to be of service to these people in this way.
This is how you keep a narrow focus fresh and meaningful.
Seek First to Understand Your Just-Right Clients
Before you try to market yourself, before you create a Web site or craft an elevator speech, seek to understand your just-right clients.
What makes them get up in the morning? What keeps them awake at night? What inspires, intrigues, and interests them?
What about their pressing challenges and urgent desires makes them so important? What will they be, do, or have when those challenges or desires are met?
And remember, the only way to truly understand your just-right clients is to ask them. One at a time, face to face or on the phone (not by email or surveys), meet and inquire deeply into their priorities and concerns. Find out what the world looks like from behind their eyes.
Sustain Focus Until and Beyond Getting Hired
I’ve seen numerous participants in my programs get to this point and back pedal. Instead of sustaining the focus they’ve so painstakingly developed, they second guess themselves.
They go back to where they started.
And they don’t just start over. Usually they get stuck, unable to decide on a second point of focus. Because once you start second guessing yourself, it’s very hard to stop.
All the earlier steps are preparation. You’re not really visible until you focus, opt for, commit, and understand your just-right clients. So don’t expect dramatic results until you’ve sustained your focus for weeks, even months.
But I promise that when you start getting results, they will be consistent. Yes, you’ll still be subject to external forces, but you’ll stand out in the market place.
It’s Easier than Plant Identification
I got an incomplete in Zoology because I never did finish that assignment. But I’ve got a thriving business because I’ve FOCUSed it the way I described above.
In plant identification, you’re looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack (or, in this case, in a forest). But when it comes to focusing your marketing on a just-right client, you get to choose the haystack and decide where the needle goes. You can put a great big bow on the needle so you never lose it.
It works, and I hope you’ll FOCUS starting now.