How to Boost Profits With Clear Client Focus
BY Marla Tabaka
Joyce has been a corporate facilitator for 25 years. She's made enough money to survive, but retirement is drawing near and Joyce is concerned for her future.
Mike is just starting out as a solo SEO strategist. He launched with a bang; two large projects that kept him busy and profitable for five months. While he has a few prospects in the picture, Mike isn't sure what's next.
Cynthia designs and manufactures a line of baby clothes. She's got a smattering of boutiques, distributors and e-tailers who distribute her products but profits are slim. It will be difficult for Cynthia to pull together enough money for her next large order from the factory.
All of these solo's have something significant in common: lack of clarity on who their customer is, which results in lack of proper focus – and lack of profit. When the phone rings or an email comes in, it becomes the primary focus and larger goals and tasks are forgotten. They all allow the external influences dictate their day rather than focus on the big picture. After all, one small sale or job is better than nothing, right? WRONG. These solo's must focus on the defining their vision and ideal client to achieve the long term goals and success. Here's what happened as we coached these solo's to success.
Joyce was consulting with individuals, small companies, not for profit organizations and large corporations. She would facilitate any meeting or project that came her way. She lies in wait for the phone to ring; a peer or friend sending her the next lead. Where Joyce's experience and track record defines her as an expert in her trade, she's allowed herself to become a Jack of all trades and for her marketing message to become muddy, lacking strength and clarity.
Joyce now has a focus. She enjoys working with mid-sized companies facilitating meetings between strategic partners. Now, she knows who to reach out to, she turns down projects that don't meet her criteria, and her website speaks to her ideal client. This was a scary move for Joyce because the tendency when creating a niche is to think that you may miss out on an opportunity. The reverse is true however; Joyce's opportunities are growing daily and her fears have subsided.
Mike wants to help the 'small guy.' This makes sense because he's one of them. But it's the 'big guy' that pays the bills. To satisfy Mike's passion to serve solo businesses, he is developing a product that teaches SEO basics in an easy to follow DYI format. He also does half-hour consulting sessions and provides a market analysis for a flat fee. Mike has defined how many such projects he will take on each month and has created projections to identify when these smaller projects can be outsourced, freeing him to work on larger projects.
Mike has also decided to target three very specific industries to market his SEO services to. These contracts are his bread and butter. Again, his marketing materials and efforts are now well targeted and defined and Mike doesn't spend time on ideas and projects that fall outside of those definitions. He is now focused on his ideal client and knows when to say no.
Cynthia was spending an exorbitant amount of time catering to boutique owners, taking returns that weren't selling in their stores, writing up small orders and negotiating pricing and shipping costs. She was spending time and money to visit store owners, trying to boost sales with costly point of purchase marketing materials. A glance at Cynthia's sales reports quickly identified that her primary and most profitable customer is the large e-tailer, with the distributor in second place and the small boutiques falling in at a distant third. Cynthia was spending the bulk of her time and resources catering to her smallest and least profitable outlet. Now she understands that the e-tailer is her top priority and she is quickly increasing sales by prospecting in that arena.
Cynthia loves seeing her designs in the small boutiques and understands that as on-line sales grow she can resume her mission to grow boutique sales with proper boundaries in place.
Are your customer demographics all over the board? Spend some time writing a description of your ideal client. Why do they need you? What problems can you solve for them? What will the outcome of your work do for them? Why is that important to them?
Turning your focus to your ideal client will boost your profits – and save your sanity! Share your thoughts and questions here on the Successful Soloist!
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka