Published in Issue 15 (October, 2016) of International Coaching News magazine
It’s the challenge every small business faces. Working with quasi-government organisations in the UK many years ago gave me the opportunity to understand that small businesses are sometimes created out of necessity and not out of understanding what it means to start and run a business. Like a lot of small businesses, when I created my own it was for a very specific reason – I had been offered a fabulous project and needed a registered limited company to sign to the contract. It was only as this project was coming to an end did I realise what I had done. How did I get the next contract? Working within some markets is easy – you go to an agent and they find the projects, but this is not true of all markets; and the majority of small business owners struggle with this.
The American Marketing Association defined marketing as ‘the activity and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.’ In other words, this is your way of communicating with prospective customers, existing customers, and past customers.
The first step is always to define your target audience. Who do you want to work with? It’s easy to look at your career history and decide that you want to work within that market place. You know it! You have contacts! But is that your passion?
In my early days of building my coaching experience and career I had a fabulous client who didn’t want to retire because he had built a consulting business around his passion, and because of legislation about retirement he was being asked to stop working within his passion.
Richard Branson said ‘“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” James M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan) said “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
To define your target audience, be true to yourself about your passion. Ask yourself ‘if money was no object, what would you be doing with 8 hours of your day, 5 days a week?’ If, like me you would rather be walking on the beach in warm weather, what can you do 8 hours of your day, 5 days a week. For the first time in over 30 years, I did actually ask myself that question recently and I bought a Dictaphone. Now I can go walking and record my thoughts! My passion – sharing the information I know with others, so that they can grow personally and professionally.
Once you have defined your target audience the next step is to work out what you want to be actually doing with your time. In a quiet space, take yourself in your own personal future – maybe 5 years’ time – and in your mind’s eye visualise yourself. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? Who else is with you? What are you saying? What are they saying? Where are you? The more detail you can create allowing your intuition to guide you the more you may understand your inner most desires. Now that you know what you want to be doing, market research is your next step – who will buy what you are doing within your passion? Peter Drucker explains that “the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well, the product or service sells itself.”
One of my previous clients had a passion about miniature railways but had a block about how she could build a business through their passion. Within thirty minutes of research on the internet she had found her client base.
Once you are clear you have a number of options, but remember marketing is about communication. So how can you communicate?
Networking provides you with two opportunities. The first is to get into a community of like-minded people – business owners – where you can communicate what you do. The second is to get known within your community. Networking is all about ‘how can I help you?’ It is not about ‘what can I get?’ Roy Sheppard teaches people how to network and I can remember him saying at an event where he was not only presenting on networking but getting us to network, that your business card is your best friend. The reason – good networks keep the business cards they collect and when someone asks them if they know anyone who can help, they go to their business cards. So if your business card is not easy to read, clear, and specific you won’t get recommended. His book ‘Rapid Results Referrals’ was a book that I won through a networking competition run at the event; and one that I turn to regularly. Why this book? A referral is simple business to win because you have been personally recommended.
Social media is a form of both communication and networking. I know a number of people who do not do anything on social media, but those who choose to communicate through social media – remember you are building your reputation. This is a challenge because some of the social media opportunities are based on ‘personal’ connections and this is where you connect to friends and family; but these are also in the public domain and available to everyone to find.
Time it takes to market yourself. I remember reading in a book written by Curly Martin that marketing takes about 40% of your working time. Be aware of how much of that time you can lose in social media communication. Having said that though, marketing is communicating with your buying public – so you need to find the balance between how much time you spend communicating on a one-2-one basis, and how much time you spend sharing what you do to your selected market place.
Marketing is all about communication. To be able to communicate clearly you need to know (1) your goal, (2) the goal of each specific piece of communication, (3) who you are targeting, in other words your target market, (4) the specific information you want to share with a ‘call to action’, and (5) how are you going to communication your message?
Successful marketing is all about achieving your goal. Send the right message to the right market using their preferred communication channel will help you achieve your goal.
Thomas A. Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Selecting a message, targeting a market, and choosing a communication channel may not bring you the success you want for your specific goal. Work out what didn’t happen and change it!
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill. Once you have found success through your marketing become aware of the importance of the Pareto principle. Also known as the 80-20 rule or the law of the vital few. It’s easy to take on every piece of business that comes your way, but does that client meet your ‘passion’? 80% of your business should come from 20% of your business opportunities. Now is the time to get selective. Your time is your money! If you give away your time you are giving away your money!
Coaching supports marketing by providing the client with
a journey of self-discovery and achievement!
© Barbara J. Cormack
© 2016 Barbara J. Cormack. All Rights Reserved.