What are you actually supposed to do to get the clients you really want?
The first step for every business I work with is making sure they know their marketing position.
That’s vital for any business to successfully—consistently—market itself.
Because the very purpose of marketing is to reinforce your marketing position in all your activities.
As a refresher, a marketing position contains five elements: Who you’re speaking to. What they need help with. How you’re uniquely suited to help them. When they realize they need help. And Where they are or where they go when they face that struggle.
This step is critical, because this is what keeps you from competing on price. If your position is identical to everyone else’s in your industry, how would clients choose other than on cost?
So, let’s say you’ve worked that out (or worked with us to define it).
The next step is translating that position into marketing words and deeds.
Start with the words. What would I need say to someone, based on my position, to make them realize that my business is uniquely able to help them overcome a particular struggle?
When I’m talking to a potential consulting client, I might say something to the effect of:
Does it feel like you’re spinning around in a circle when it comes to your marketing?
Are you trying a little bit of everything, inconsistently, never sure what’s working and where to focus?
I’ll help you walk ahead in a straight line, able to make clearer marketing decisions and steady progress toward your goal of getting the very best clients—by doing the work you really love.
If I’m talking to the right person, at the right time, in the right place, that’s exactly what they’re looking for.
So how would you translate your marketing position into marketing language?
What do you need to ask to identify an ideal client, with the struggle you’re best suited to help solve? What would you need to say to make someone realize that you have the best solution to their problem?
Remember to use their language, not yours. Be sympathetic to their challenge and the feelings it creates, don’t be obsessed with your own solution.
Then, once you know what to ask and say, you next need to know where and when to say it.
So where do your ideal clients go when they need the type of help you provide?
Are they on LinkedIn? Do they listen to podcasts? Do they read newsletters? Do they search YouTube? Do they doomscroll through Twitter or distract themselves on TikTok? Are there industry associations, trade publications, or conferences they look to for support?
Make a list of these “watering holes,” as Jonathan Stark of the Ditching Hourly podcast calls them. And then determine how you could engage on these platforms or in those spaces—efficiently and consistently—based on your current means and circumstances.
Maybe that’s experimenting with more social media content, creating a webinar you can shop around to various organizations, developing video content that reinforces your marketing position, or starting a newsletter.
The next step from here is to build a structure around that engagement so you stick with it for the long-term.
You need some form of accountability to make sure you keep at it, and keep on track.
For me, that’s a commitment to write this newsletter every week. Every edition I write is engaging with my ideal audience, and it also works for me even if it doesn’t “work.” Because I’m forced to constantly learn and continuously focus on what I’m best at and love most.
For you, that structure might include committing yourself to hosting regular webinars, getting yourself scheduled as a guest on podcasts, attending conferences, or making a media buy that requires you to produce creative advertising on a regular schedule.
The point is doing something regularly, focused on your ideal clients at their moment of greatest need, with a message that’s targeted at their precise struggle, in a way that you can sustain for years.
Put it on your schedule, make it part of your daily work—as important as any of your core activities.
Monitor it closely, adjust as needed, and keep working at it until it works.
That’s how you turn marketing goals into marketing action. It might sound arduous, but not doing it is harder.
Because effort without outcomes is demoralizing and demotivating. And, quite simply, “winging it is not a strategy,” as Richard P. Rumelt put it in Good Strategy/Bad Strategy.
No, strategy is the structure to work efficiently to get what you want. Which means, if you follow the process I’ve outlined here, you’ll have built yourself a basic strategy for acquiring better clients.
It’s not complete or comprehensive, but it’s a great start.
Occasionally I’ll meet business owners who think this is all too much work, or too complicated. Which merely means they don’t actually want a strategy.
Everything good comes at a cost, and this work is the price of strategy. I can help and guide you, but the work is inescapable.
And the only alternative is to keep searching for a silver bullet.
But those do not exist.
Because, at the end of the day, there’s taking small, steady steps in the right direction, and there’s running around in a circle.
Both feel like action, but only one gets you where you want to go.