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Fitting the Right Pieces Together

I just got off the phone with a prospect. This was the second time we had talked, and I knew from the start that she was unlikely to become a client (any time soon). She is just getting her business started and is still trying to fit all of the pieces together. So, we figured out some of the questions she needs to answer and she is now focused on answering those questions.

The things we talked about were a good reminder of how challenging it can be to put all the right pieces together for a business. To make a business work, you need three components figured out:

1. Need vs. Target Market

Yes, you need to identify a need. For example, there is a need for high school students to have a better idea of what major and career they would like to pursue. However, that is different than a target market, which is clearly identifiable and reachable. So, for career counseling for students, your target market might be parents of students at charter schools.

Why would they be a target market? By choosing a charter school, they have demonstrated interest and taken action on their child’s education. And, they are reachable by sponsoring or speaking at events the PTA puts on.

2. Actionable Message

Once you have figured out your target market, you need to find a message that will motivate them to take action. This can be done by actually selling your services to your target market. (Salespeople are a great source for understanding what message motivates prospective clients.) Or, it can be done through testing different advertising messages.

For career counseling, it could be aspirational: “Help your child choose a career where he or she will excel and be happy!” or fear focused: “Switching majors can be expensive. Help your student choose the right one before they even apply to college.”

3. Reaching Your Target Market

Once you know your target market and have a message that will motivate action, the next step is to figure out how to get that message in front of your target market. There are many options depending on your budget, volume, needs, and personal preference. Everything from public speaking to direct mail to online advertising can help you reach your market. And a combination can be really powerful.

Once you have those three pieces in place, it is much easier to get a consistent flow of new clients. However, getting them all figured out can be a real challenge -- even for established businesses. That is why you might want to consider outside help.

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