I think they’re dead wrong when they’re talking to service professionals – coaches, consultants, healers, and licensed professionals – like us.
You started your practice because you…
There’s some internal knowing that this is the work you were meant to do. Service professionals are led by the service they want to deliver.
That’s what drives you — making a difference…serving others…through the skills you have.
So when the gurus start preaching that your first step is to focus on an Ideal Client or target market you struggle to figure out who that is or should be for you.
This can leave you feeling like you’re stupid because you can’t figure out something that they say is basic.
But they’ve got it backwards. At least when it comes to service professionals like coaches, consultants, or healers.
Before we can possibly know our Ideal Client, we need to be clear on our Big Idea.
Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy is credited with coining the phrase, “Big Idea”. And his effectiveness with using it was a good part of what made him legendary.
Having a Big Idea means you’ve got a unique approach to a problem. It’s your unique solution built on your unique slant on a specific problem.
So expressing a Big Idea means communicating…
When you’re trying to grow a business, have bills to pay, and empty cupboards to fill it can make you feel a bit panicky to focus on what you think of as a small segment of the population.
You’re likely nervous about turning people down or saying you only with a specific type of person or that you only solve a specific type of problem.
You can also feel really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) about putting yourself out there.
But talking about your Big Idea…talking about the problem that needs to be solved and why people struggle to solve it…is a lot easier. It put’s the attention on the problem, not on you.
And when you deeply understand the problem you solve and the outcome you provide, better than anyone else, then you can start to see who has that problem and who wants the outcome you offer.
When you’re clear about your Big Idea and stay on message talking about issues that relate to it then you’re going to attract people who have that problem you solve and who want the solution you provide in the way you provide it.
You become the go-to person for your particular audience.
The most important element that forms the foundation of your Big Idea is your Point of View (POV).
Your POV is the set of beliefs you have about the work you do and the problem you solve. It’s your approach and philosophy about solving the problem.
It informs everything you do and guides the way you do it.
Here’s a quick example.
On a video call, my friends who are livestreaming experts they told me I needed to check out a new livestream service that’s all the rage.
But a friend of mine in an English speaking country outside of the US posted on Facebook a negative experience he had with this company.
My friend’s assessment was the livestreaming company’s rep had no idea how to talk to a professional and acted like a child.
What my friend described certainly sounded like very poor service. Since he was dealing with a manager of this new company, it sounds like they either don’t know how to hire good people or they’re developing a culture with a chip on its shoulder — one that doesn’t value clients.
So my reaction when my friends suggested I have this company on the show was very strong.
I don’t want to help bad companies get attention and attract business when they obviously don’t put the effort into hiring and / or training top notch people. Or they care so little about their staff that they create an environment that causes these people to then act out.
Can you hear my values in there? The importance I place on staffing, training, and organizational development?
That forms the foundation of my POV about service, culture, and staffing.
Your beliefs, values, and philosophy become very obvious when something tests them.
So when you hear some guru go on about how the first thing you need to do is identify a target market… and you struggle to identify one…it’s easy to feel like you’re stupid. But you’re not.
They just assume you’re clear on your Big Idea. That you’re clear on your core message, the problem you solve, and the outcome you deliver.
But it’s very likely that you’re not.
That’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you’ve been focusing too hard on getting clients.
But you can’t get as many clients — or Ideal Clients — until you’re clear on your core message.
You do need a clear audience to communicate with, and the more you know about them the easier it is to attract them.
But you can’t attract them if you don’t understand their problem and your solution and why your solution is right for them.
You’ll struggle to attract them if you don’t have a Big Idea and if you don’t have a clear message delivered consistently across different platforms.
So if you’ve been sweating to figure out an ideal client, or avatar, or brand persona, or whatever is the buzz phrase of the moment, I’m giving you permission to stop worrying about that right now.
Instead, focus on gaining crystal clarity on your Big Idea.
Focus on being clear about the problem you solve, the solution you provide, the POV you have, and packaging all that into your Big Idea so people understand you and what you’re all about.
Then get your message out powerfully — in a way that reaches and resonates with your ideal client so she takes the next step to learn more about you and the solution you provide.
Then as you see who is naturally attracted to you, you can decide how to adjust your message in order to attract more of those people who you truly want to work with and less of those who aren’t a perfect fit.
Your Ideal Client or Avatar will make itself known to you because that’s who resonates with your message.
Gurus talk about it, sales books cover it….choosing a niche or target audience really is an important decision to make. But most entrepreneurs resist it for a variety of reasons including…
While it may be true that everyone needs your services, not everyone wants them. Part of what makes you feel salesy is when you’re trying to convince someone to buy from you. That person doesn’t want what you’re selling or they don’t want it in the way you deliver it.
This video discusses the benefits of choosing an ideal client segment or what I refer to as a Prime Suspect.
One of the frustrating challenges of starting, running, and growing a business — especially a small consulting, coaching, or other expertise-based business — is narrowing your focus so you’re talking to and attracting ONE type of client.
This is really hard for those of us who are creative and who also consider ourselves spiritual or conscious.
We hate to turn people down.
It’s also easy to get a little nervous (ok…a lot nervous) in those moments when clients may be harder to come by….it’s summer and people are distracted….the holiday season and people are thinking of parties….end of the year when people are caught up planning…
But focusing on serving only those who you’re truly aligned with actually helps position you as the leader and expert for that segment.
This video gives you a few tips on the topic of what I refer to as Prime Suspects and Ideal Clients.
Think about who you’re trying to attract. The chances are good that if you’re messaging isn’t resonating with anyone it’s because you’re speaking too broadly. That’s a sure sign you need to narrow your focus.