When it comes to getting more clients as a freelancer or consultant, the most important question to ask yourself about your marketing is The Positioning Question.
Okay, I’m cheating here. These are actually two questions, but they’re equally important and come together as The Positioning Question.
Let’s Talk About “The Positioning Question”
What target market do you serve?
This should, ideally, be an industry (e.g., “Dentists”) or technology (e.g., “Shopify” or “Redmine”) vertical. It can be a horizontal (e.g., “eCommerce”), but that’s Playing On Hard Mode™ for most folks.
Better to focus on a vertical and expand from there.
What expensive problem do you solve for your target market?
This should be an outcome which represent the client’s desired and improved conditions.
The outcome of working on an Expensive Problem are never inputs (e.g., reports, focus groups, manuals) but rather always outputs (e.g., increased sales, reduced attrition, improved teamwork).
Everything I know about positioning for freelancers and consultants comes from my good friend and the “Dean of Positioning” Philip Morgan, creator of the free Positioning Crash Course and author of The Positioning Manual.
Sign up and/or buy those as soon as you can.
- His free positioning crash course is incredibly informative and will teach you the importance of positioning
- The Positioning Manual is the first book I recommend whenever I coach a consultant on how to get more leads and clients
Positioning is important because it defines every single other aspect of your marketing as a freelancer or consultant.
If you do not know the target market you’re trying to reach, your marketing will be ineffective.
If you do not know the expensive problem you are solving or the outcome that represents the client’s desired and improved conditions, your marketing will be ineffective.
I’m serious. If you cannot answer The Positioning Question for your business, all of your marketing and lead acquisition will be less effective.
Sure, you can build a business, but you’re going to be pushing that boulder uphill.
Let’s look at the major marketing areas for a freelancer or consultant and see what happens if you don’t know the answer to The Positioning Question:
- Positioning: “Who am I trying to reach with my marketing?” → If you can’t answer The Positioning Question, you, by definition, do not know.
- Market Research: “What outcome is my target market looking to experience?” → If you can’t answer The Positioning Question, all you can do is guess at the problems they’re experiencing, not research the outcomes they’re looking to achieve.
- Service Offerings: “What offerings do I make available to my target market?” → If you can’t answer who you’re serving or what expensive problems they’re looking to solve, you won’t know what service offerings to market in your business.
- Marketing Messaging: “How do I communicate with my target market?” → If you don’t know who your target market is, you won’t know what messaging to use to effectively communicate with them. This is the difference between the headline on your homepage saying “Dynamic, innovative web solutions” and “We’ll turn your Shopify store into a Revenue-Generating Powerhouse of Persuasion” (n.b., https://ethercycle.com/)
- Client Intake Automation: “How do I minimize the time that I spend educating, nurturing, and qualifying prospects and converting them from prospects into leads into clients?” → If you don’t know who your target market is and what problems they’re experiencing, you won’t be able to effectively educate, nurture, and qualify prospects.
- Content Marketing: “What content should I create to educate prospects and demonstrate my authority?” → If you don’t know who you’re trying to speak to or what questions they’re asking, you won’t be able to effectively create educational, informative, and entertaining content.
- Outreach Marketing: “How do I reach my ideal prospect where they already are before they’ve heard of me?” → If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, you won’t be able to identify where they spend time online or offline or the most effective way (podcasts, guest articles, interviews, webinars, conferences, presentations, meetups, etc.) to reach them and inform them that you’re around and available to help them achieve their outcomes or solve their problems.
- Referral Marketing: “How do I turn one connection into referrals to multiple prospective clients?” → If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach or what outcomes you’re helping them generate, you won’t be able to ask for referrals or create referrable moments in your business. (“Hey Jane, it was wonderful to help you achieve XYZ on our recent project. Do you know anyone else in INDUSTRY who is looking for help achieving OUTCOME?”)
You can build an effective 6-figure business without answering The Positioning Question but it’s heckin‘ hard.
Once you’ve identified your target market, the outcomes they’re looking to achieve, and the expensive problem they’re experiencing, it becomes much easier to market your business and get more clients.
When you have clear positioning, people start to seek you out.
Positioning. It’s very important.
I have two questions for you. Even if you don’t know the specific answer yet or your answers are aspirational (“I’m working on niching down to ____”), send me back your best guess answers to these questions:
- What is your target market? Who do you serve?
- What outcome do you help clients in your target market achieve? What expensive problem do you help them solve?
p.s., go and sign up for Philip Morgan’s free Positioning Crash Course