Our solo ventures stand the best chance of growing by word of mouth when those around us really understand what we do and are able to talk easily about our work to others. Too often this simply is not the case. Our messages frequently suffer from being too complex or, at the other end of the spectrum, too general.
To help get further into this topic of target marketing, let me share an analogy.
Some years ago I went on a self-defence course. The instructor talked to us about what to do if we were set upon in the street by a mugger.
“There’s no point in simply screaming out for help” he told us, because as he explained, the natural tendency of others is either to not get involved, or to assume that someone else will do the helping.
Instead we were told to, in effect, ‘appoint’ a passer-by to help. Here’s what was suggested:
Instead of a ‘general’ message he told us to ‘get specific’.
His example was: “Hey you, in the green shirt with the brown briefcase, help me!”
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By doing this – by explicitly assigning someone to the task – it was far more likely that help would be given. Of course it would! If you were the person in the green shirt are you going to walk by? Of course not. At the very least you’d turn to someone nearby and enrol that person to your cause.
And this is precisely what we need to do in our solo businesses. We need to tailor our messages to specific people if we are to be truly heard.
Let’s look at this applied more directly to business. Picture an accountant who does basic tax accounting. Chances are you can think of three of four soloists who do precisely that. No doubt each does a good job, but not much is standing out here is it?
Imagine instead an accountant who spoke in terms of ‘helping professional service firms pay less tax and retain more profits’.
Compelling language along these lines stands much more chance of being heard, remembered and passed on.
So how do we go about finding the right words? The answer is: Listen to your clients. Ask them what they really get as an outcome of your work and start to talk in these terms.
Use straightforward, clear language and keep it brief. Don’t get all knotted up in processes. People are looking for solutions, it’s how referrals are generated.
There’ll be plenty of time later to talk processes. For now, use target marketing so you can be heard amid the noise.