I was doing some Google research the other day and this little Adwords Ad caught my eye “EXECUTIVE COACHING – most advanced coaching techniques available today”. It made me smile as I wondered just how many Executives in desperate need of help go around saying to themselves (or others) “God, what I really need are the most advanced coaching techniques available”!
If what our clients were really looking for were the tools that we use then perhaps a Carpenter’s ad might look something like this “EXPERIENCED CARPENTER – uses most advanced smoothing tool available”.
When working with an Executive Coach recently on her website and copy I sent her off to do some research on her target market and it appears that some of the things that executives really want are – more head-space, clarity, support, confidence, leadership skills and the ability to take a fresh perspective. Not it seems, the most advanced coaching techniques!
It’s not about you
Although as a service or product supplier the tools of your trade may be very important to you, from your client’s perspective they are more interested in themselves and the results that your product will get for them. In my 2nd business helping people through major career transitions, I’ve probably been asked about my qualifications once in 5 years!
Find out what they really want
So what do your target market and prospective clients really want? If you don’t yet have a clear and compelling benefits-based answer to this then the best thing to do is to ask them! You can do this through surveys, internet research on forums, blogs and articles, face-to-face interviews or by speaking to others succeeding in the same profession who might be kind enough to share their learnings with you.
If you don’t really have a clearly defined niche then this process becomes much harder. How can you really understand the problems of ‘everyone and anyone who …..’ and then neatly summarise them into a persuasive and concisive message? If you are targeting different markets with different problems and challenges then it makes sense to research each group separately and at the very least have a page for each on your website. This way, you at least have some chance of creating a personal message that speaks to them and their problems directly.
When you are researching your target market, you need to first of all understand their problems, their pain and how they are feeling now, and secondly it’s important to understand what they want instead. Sometimes we can get carried away delivering what we want rather than what are clients really need.
Let’s take web designers as an example as the needs and expectations of their clients has changed in the last few years. Before the explosion of tools such as Word Press onto the market, the pain that many small business owners experienced was that once their beautifully designed website was up and running, it was virtually impossible for them to make any changes without going back to their developer and paying, often substantial fees, for every change. Now days, business owners don’t just want a website, they want and need a flexible, dynamic marketing tool that they can update on demand. So if a web developer has become ‘purist’ about their tools and only wants to work with raw code then they could find their market diminishing or that they perhaps needs to focus on a different one.
Web development is a great example of the changing needs of business owners over time and if you started your business some years ago it may be worthwhile gaining a fresh perspective on the current needs and desires of your target market. It could be that they still have similar problems but they would prefer the solution delivered in a different format or it could be that the problems they face now are very different due to the economic climate and advances in technology. Surveys to your database and target market can be very revealing and cost very little to implement so if your marketing is not producing the results you would like, it may be time to find out what your clients really want!
And finally, just a little tongue in cheek, my ‘tools of the trade’ ad might look a little like this – “BUSINESS CARTOGRAPHER – uses the finest landscapes, most creative metaphors and the most powerful questions ever!”
For a light-hearted and inspirational guide to running your business download my free Bear Necessities of Running a Business ebook
About the author: Jenny Littlejohn is the founder of Big Strides and Big Strides 4 Business. She is passionate about giving small business owners the confidence and knowledge to market their businesses with courage, flair and creativity. As both a business coach and marketer, Jenny loves helping people to do the things they previously thought were too complex, scary or totally out of their comfort zones.
Jenny also literally takes big strides with her clients; taking their coaching and strategic sessions outdoors into local countryside and parks where inspiration is unlimited! www.bigstrides4business.co.uk InspiredPreneur Blog www.bigstrides4business.co.uk/blog