A key challenge many small business owners face is how to market yourself to a 'mindset', not a 'demographic'.
When identifying your 'ideal prospect/client', it's always good to look at it from a few different perspectives. Demographics is one area, usually the easiest one to get you started. It's quite easy to picture your ideal client - their age, perhaps gender, maybe their life stage or personal circumstances. A great starting point for any work you do on your ideal client.
Secondly, you can take a look at your ideal prospect's needs. What is the end human need that you can fulfil for them? What do they really want in life, or in business? This can help you work out the words or concepts to use in your messaging, and to know what will resonate with them.
And then we come to mindset. Because as much as they could be a certain age group, or a certain business size or type; what you are also looking for is someone 'like-minded' to your way of thinking, right?
At least that's what most solopreneurs really want. Their ideal client is the person who aligns to their values, their perspectives and their approach to their specialist subject.
In short, we're all looking for our tribe.
Let's for a moment imagine this wasn't a business pursuit, but a personal one. Imagine you are looking for the love of your life instead of your next client! Now delve deep. What values do they have? How do they communicate? What do they really need from you? What are their fears, their frustrations, their goals and their desires?
Now ask how you might fulfil them.
Here are 3 Key Strategies to consider when developing marketing messaging, which will help you attract your tribe, not a demographic.
1. Tone of Voice
Your tone of voice relates to the way you 'come across' through your marketing. The words you choose, the language you use, the philosophies, themes and strategies you employ can all be part of your tone of voice. You can also decide how you want to 'sound' through the personality you bring through your 'voice' and the 'tone' you create using emotional inflection. Imagine the difference between being a casual, funny, friendly tone of voice vs. a formal, direct, professional tone of voice. So, think about how you come across - Cynical? Controlling? Unapproachable? Not so good. Positive? Helpful? Warm? Welcoming? Pretty inviting.
2. Your Positioning
How you position your business is also what you 'hang your hat on'. Your positioning can be expressed in your job title, your elevator pitch, your actions, the way you develop, format, sell and package your services. With a consistent approach to this over time, your positioning will be the thing you become known for.
Positionings should be competitive and unique, as well as aligning to your target customers' needs. Are you going to be the easiest? Cheapest? Most fun? Most comprehensive? Personable? Friendly? Positive? Results-driven? Simple? Easy to understand? Best quality? Best service? Only service of its kind? Longest-standing? Most knowledgeable? Longer? Faster? Bigger? Stronger? Safer? The list can go on! The key is to make it unique and bring it to life.
3. How You Show Up
Let's say you want to attract people who are open-minded, positive thinkers with a growth mindset, but you yourself are closed to new ideas, approach things negatively and think in the short-term. Do you think you will attract the people you desire? You have to show up the way you want to position yourself. You have to live your positioning and your concept.
People tell me I'm pretty direct and incredibly honest (sometimes a bit too honest - I'm the person that says out loud the thing you're all thinking!). They also tell me that I'm incredibly positive, bubbly and energetic; and always thinking of new ideas and looking for opportunities. So, who do you think I attract to my business? Who wants to work with me? It's people who want to be like that too, even if they don't feel or behave that way right now. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me; "I wish I could think like you do", then I would be, well, a lot richer than I am!!
And who do you think I 'put off'? That's it, you guessed it! People who are the opposite of that. People who don't want to tell their truth, who look for the negative in everything and aren't open to change and growth. People who are quite closed. Those people generally don't come within a mile of me. In fact, I scare them. And that's a good thing because I know who my tribe are, and I know who they aren't. The truth is that you can't build a tribe without rivals!
4. Pre-qualification Channels
You can't work with everyone, you can't please everyone and you can't expect everyone to 'get you'. You have to choose the battles you want to take on with the people who want your help to win! There are many people who've enquired to work with me over the years and I've known instantly that they aren't going to be a good client for me. Just by reading their enquiry email, or hearing the way they ask to engage with me, or the way they describe what they want done. For years, I would allow the red flags to wave frantically in my mind, whilst still continuing to engage with them. I thought I had to work with anybody who came my way. Then I realised how dumb that was. I realised that I needed to set some boundaries and criteria for the people I'm going to work with. It's not an arrogance thing, it's just that if the people who engage me don't understand how I work best, or what I can do for them, if their expectations don't align with what's possible within the timeframe or budget they want to work to, if they actually can't afford my services, or if I can't genuinely help them; then the relationship isn't going to work. Not only will I have a miserable time, but the client won't get the results they want and my reputation will be at stake.
The point is that you have to market yourself in the places where your ideal prospect is likely to be. If you want to sell your services at a high ticket price, then there's no point advertising them on a 'cheap offers for small business' Facebook group, for example, because we can assume that the people on that group are looking for 'cheap offers'. There's no point building a referral partnership with a company that specialises in businesses with 200+ employees, if you only want to work with businesses with under 20 employees. So, think carefully about where you put your message and whether that channel aligns to your ideal prospect.
I spent many years thinking that what I did had to be so perfect that absolutely everyone would love it. I didn't realise that by doing this, I was hurting myself.
Every time someone didn't want to work with me or didn't like what I offered it felt like failure, the rejection was painful. Then I realised the true power of what it means to market to a mindset, not a demographic.
It means that every time you find someone who doesn't 'get you', you've narrowed your audience closer to the people who will. Like millions before you who've kissed the frog to find the prince; you have to keep eliminating the wrong people to get to the right people.
It means that you should expect blank stares, empty expressions and a highly critical, or minimal response from some (maybe even most) people. It can mean that what you're doing is actually working. It means you've found something niche, but if it's not yet turning into paying clients, then you just haven't yet found your tribe. Keep looking though because they're out there. Adjust your tone of voice, language, positioning and channels one-by-one until you find them.
Marketing isn't always about attracting the people you want to work with, it's also about putting off the people you don't ~ Stevie V Brown
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Stevie V Brown coaches small business owners’ to increase their marketing know-how, build their confidence and create and implement a growth marketing strategy that attracts and nurtures more of their ideal clients and gets them paid what they're truly worth. Apply for a FREE Marketing Accelerator with Stevie and get crystal clear on the next 3 actions you can take to grow your business today.