It’s nearly July, and boy, what a different summer this one’s shaping up to be.
As we peek our heads out of our bunkers and businesses tentatively open their physical doors, we find ourselves, once again, in new and uncharted territory. Not quite open but not fully closed either.
As consumers, we might be questioning the wisdom of a choice to eat in a restaurant, get a haircut, visit the dentist, or (gasp) get on a plane. And as entrepreneurs ourselves, we feel the pain of all the businesses struggling to figure it out and stay afloat. The barriers they need to overcome with their audience and customers are completely new. The logistical, human, and societal challenges just keep on coming. And everyone is trying to figure out where they fit and how they add value in this new landscape.
Your clients need support in a big way, and you might be exactly the person they need to help them figure out what’s next.
If you’ve been stuck in a holding pattern of waiting for work to “pick back up”, this might be the perfect time to re-think what you do, the value you offer, the results you get, and how you get them.
Imagine showing up for your clients not as a hired gun, but as a trusted thought-partner, collaborator, and producer. Imagine showing up for them, supporting them, and feeling their gratitude because they didn’t have to do it alone.
Scary? Maybe. But this crisis might be the very thing that catapults you and your business to a whole new level.
Here are 3 ways you can identify what problems your ideal clients are struggling with, how you are uniquely equipped to support them, and how to get you and them back in the business game!
1) Understand what motivates your ideal clients
In my experience as a business coach for creative business owners, one of the most common mistakes people make is not knowing what motivates their ideal clients to take action. Without those insights, the tendency is to default to what’s most easily accessible to you, the creative. So, if you’re a highly sensitive creative, you might focus overly on emotional motivators. If you’re extremely pragmatic and logical, you may only focus on the functional ones.
But research shows that the most successful brands in the world have a healthy mix of factors including functional, emotional, social impact, and self-actualization. I’m willing to bet that if you checked your positioning, messaging, services and marketing against these factors, you’d see a HUGE opportunity to connect with people in a more multi-faceted and effective way.
Action step: Check out the diagram below (which you can learn more about in this Harvard Business Review article), to see which elements immediately resonate and which ones you’re neglecting, but might try incorporating into your positioning, messaging and services.
2) Identify your ideal client’s problems
Rather than waiting for prospective clients to identify their problem and seek out help, be proactive. What does success look like for them? Where do they see their future self and business? What are the obstacles to them achieving this vision? What do they need to succeed?
Depending upon your area of expertise, here are just a few things your clients most likely need help with, like right now!
- Strategy – how to move forward under new circumstances
- Messaging – how to let their customers know what they’re doing and how to do business with them
- Marketing – getting in front of people who need them, but don’t know they exist yet.
- Ecommerce – selling their products online
- User Experience – helping their prospects make it through their sales funnel
- Communications – internal and customer facing
- Operations – processes, procedures, how things work
Action step: Choose the area(s) that fall in your zone of genius and outline the challenges you’re seeing and start brainstorming specific solutions you could offer.
3) Go future tripping
One of the best books I’ve read about crafting ideal client profiles is Michael Schrage’s “Who Do You Want to Your Customers to Become?” Schrage argues that it’s not enough to design products and services your clients tell you they want and need (thought that’s definitely a start!), rather the success of your business depends upon you designing new customers – thinking of their future state and how you are the conduit to their evolution.
I LOVE this! It’s completely radical and wonderful. If this completely new way of thinking of things gets you jazzed too, check out the action step below.
Action step: Describe who you want your customers to become. What is the transformation that is a result of having engaged with your services or product? If this still feels a little abstract, here’s mine. The purpose of my coaching business is to help freelancers move away from thinking of themselves as hired guns and start thinking and operating as the CEO of their creative business.
If this blog post has given you food for thought and you think that building a client-centered business is a positive step for the growth for you and your creative business, I’d love for you to join me in a free online workshop, How to find clients who are ready to hire you NOW on July 8th. Click here to save your spot and join us!
“Working with Justine completely changed the way I look at client and market needs. She helped me clearly identify and define the problems that existed and create an original methodology/framework as a service offering and a way to differentiate myself and address the unique challenges my ideal clients face.
As a result of our work together, I completely re-positioned my business to help food and lifestyle brands tell their story better (along with new name, branding and website), my messaging and services are crystal clear, I have a marketing strategy that’s already up and running and the workshops I’ve hosted so far have received great feedback. I’m excited to see what the future holds!
—MELISSA DIPALMA, FOUNDER OF SPARKKCONTENT.COM