Attracting clients is a process that takes a considerable amount of investment. You’ll need to invest a lot of time and be dedicated to learning about who you’re trying to reach. But first, you need to make that investment in yourself and in establishing your purpose.
Who are you? Why are you doing this? What is your message?
What is your brand?
When I first started my business in 2011, I didn’t have a brand. I designed a logo, put together a website, and threw myself out into the world as a web developer, graphic designer, photographer, videographer, you name it. I also pitched myself to the masses. Whether you were a bank, construction company, or wellness provider, I was your guy.
The problem was that I wasn’t.
A mistake I made early on in my first business venture was in being a salesman when approaching any client. I laid all my cards out on the table and overloaded them with information about myself and what I could do for them before I took time to research them and listen to their needs. Talking a good game does nothing if you don’t know who you’re talking to.
In the end, what was left was a whirlwind of information laid out that said I was the jack of all trades, but nothing really about myself or my purpose. I knew I wanted to help others and be of service, but trying to solve everyone’s problems wasn’t the identity I wanted to have.
What ended up happening was an abundance of work in markets I knew little about or had little to no interest in. I became a machine fulfilling tasks in a multitude of areas. I didn’t even know how to even identify myself except to say “multimedia designer”.
It took many years to really find out who I was and what I truly wanted to do with my career. It wasn’t until I paused my business and began working full-time as a web developer that the seeds began to sow and my career path would come more into focus.
I received a brief for a business needing a landing page one morning and in looking it over I couldn’t help but notice how busy their logo was. There must have been about six colors and it was just loud. It prompted me to look them up and would quickly see they needed more help than just a landing page. Then the research wheels began to turn.
What struck me the most was that this was a business whose mission was to be of service to others. They had a clear message of healing and of community. It just needed to be focused.
My mother always said, “When you stop searching, you’ll find it.”
And there it was.
What follows is everything I’ve come to learn that has helped me in relaunching my business with purpose and has also taught me more about who I am as a person. What we bring to the table regardless of what industry we are in needs to be more than just a product or service.
Why are you doing this? What do you believe in? Take the time to look inside yourself in order to find what problems you want to solve and for whom. Do you have a cause you want to take on? What are the solutions you can create? How can you bring about that change and communicate directly with those who need help? People will trust you more if they see you’re standing right beside them.
Asking yourself “Why?” is one of the most important ways to learn about yourself and where you want to go. So, before you jump into designing a logo for yourself or putting effort into any advertising, it’s important to know your purpose so that you can establish a proper business strategy that’s aimed at solving a problem for your target audience. Having a mission and embarking on a journey also brings a sense of reward and becomes more than just completing tasks, clocking in hours, and earning income.
You don’t have to sell yourself across industries. Find out what target market you’re most interested in and you want to serve. Target a specific type of business. For example, maybe you think you just want to work with small businesses. There are many different types of small businesses. Narrow your focus more to a specific market.
One of my fears in narrowing my focus was that it would be too narrow and I would not attract any clients. This would be true if I only sought out cafes with blue as their primary brand color. Don’t narrow your focus too much or make your selection too obscure. Find the sweet spot, like say cafes in your city or state.
Along with finding your niche, you need to consider what problems you want to solve for them. That’s where a lot of the research comes in. Learn as much as you can about them. Immerse yourself in their business. What are their pain points? What obstacles do they face? Consider something innovative you can do for them that would improve their businesses. What value can you bring? Know who they are from front to back and know how to solve their problems.
Serving a niche doesn't mean you can never work for another type of business, but it helps to center your focus and establish yourself especially if you're just starting out.
Also, word of mouth is powerful. Someone in your niche may talk about their positive experiences with you to someone in another field. That may lead to future opportunities where you can indeed branch out and expand your business.
Set up your business in a way that helps your niche. If you want to focus your work on logo design, for example, create a portfolio website that displays your design work specifically for that market.
On social media, follow businesses and people in that industry. Follow their hashtags. Become a part of that community. But, do so with the intent to communicate with them and offer support and insight and not to sell them anything. Hearing a sales pitch is complete-turn off.
If your intent is to make money, this will just come seeping through your pores and it will send potential clients running in the opposite direction. You should have a vested interest in wanting to help improve their businesses first and foremost. Remember, you’re speaking with people. Don’t talk in cliches or boilerplate lingo. Be genuine and honestly care about those you serve.
One of the best ways to start establishing this rapport is to become an authority for your target market. You can do this before even reaching out to anyone by writing blog articles and creating social posts which speak directly to them. Once a potential client or customer sees that not only do you know what you’re talking about, but that you genuinely care enough that you would create content for them, this greatly increases the opportunity that they will make an investment in you because you have made an investment in them.
One of the questions I get asked and have even asked myself is “Where exactly is my target audience?” You can test the waters by throwing out content across all social media and see what comes up, but a more worthwhile investment is to take the time to research where they are. If you’re posting for cosmetics on Twitter, it probably would not go as far as if you were posting that content on Instagram. Go where your potential clients are and start building that trust with them. Post tips, resources, engage in conversation, and you will attract their attention organically and gain more genuine interest.
Build a connection and use your content in order to educate. Have substance in what you are offering and be real. In order to have a successful business, you have to be willing to connect with people. You have to want to learn about them, their lives, their problems. And you have to want to solve those problems.
Besides speaking directly with your target market, another way to find out what pain points they may have is by reading reviews of their business. Does there appear to be an issue you can solve based on what their own clients or customers are saying?
Show that you understand their potential problems by posting helpful content that sets you apart as an expert in the field. Teach your audience something they may not know and that’s useful to their business. It’s very powerful and moving when you can be someone’s source for informative content that sets you apart from the rest.
Educating your audience and building a genuine connection with them moves you closer to gaining business for yourself. Content that’s relatable, impactful, and moves a person to take action puts you in that position to be able to close deals and create a relationship that can last for years to come.