Quite a while back, I had a consultation with Teresa, a delightful new coach who wanted to do some marketing. She’d finished coach training. She joined a high-end mentoring program. Now she wanted a website.
Teresa wasn’t sure who her target market would be. She had picked up a few clients.
What stood out was something Teresa mentioned almost as an after-thought. “I invited a group of women to come to my house for a presentation. We had refreshments and we all had a good time. A couple of them might become clients.”
Now you have to understand that web development is just about my favorite thing to do as a copywriter. (I also like writing sales letters for a high-quality service, but that’s another topic.) So I was itching to get my hands on Teresa’s website, which existed as a very rough draft.
But because we dug into Teresa’s business model during the consultation, the truth was pretty obvious. Teresa wasn’t ready for a website.
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In fact, her own highly-paid high-end mentor was probably advising her, “Before you get a website, go out and talk to prospects. Make sure you’ve got a market.” The really tough mentors would say, “Sign at least 3 to 10 paid clients before you build your website.” (If you want to save about $10K on mentoring programs, skip the preliminaries and go out and do this.)
I understood exactly where Teresa was coming from. A website feels like a security blanket. If someone asks, “What do you do?” you send them to your website. If you want to post on social media and even buy ads, you send them to your website.
Unfortunately, you can build a beautiful website for a non-existent market. When I first started on the Internet, I had just published a book on relocation. So it seemed natural to build a website on moving and become a relocation coach.
I soon discovered that people who move do need lots of help and could benefit hugely from working with me. … but they wouldn’t. As one industry expert pointed out, “The last thing people want during a move is more phone calls.” When I expanded my site to deal with careers, and specifically focused on midlife career change, my business grew dramatically.
Amazingly, none of the coaches I consulted encouraged me to do some research. It never occurred to me to work with a copywriter, who would have asked pointed questions about what the market wanted and what benefits would be delivered.
So what could Teresa do instead?
(1) Interview 6 to 10 people who resemble your ideal clients. If you’ve been in business awhile but are considering a new niche, you can interview some of your current and past ideal clients. Find out their top priorities, how they choose resources, and what they’re using now. (My clients get a complete list of questions to start.)
After you’ve completed the interviews, you’ll know if you’ve got a market that resonates with your offer. You’ll know if they’re willing and able to buy and how to reach this market effectively. Hopefully you recorded their exact words and phrases. For instance, if they’re laid-off from a job, do they talk about “getting back on the horse” or “back in the saddle again?”
(2) Make sure your target market is large enough. If you have no competitors, there’s usually a reason.You may be ahead of the curve and dominate a market by coming early, but you may also have stumbled on a market that can’t or won’t buy. Experienced marketers prefer to enter a crowded market with a unique angle, rather than an empty market with no competition.
(3) Based on those results, set up a simple landing page to collect leads, offering a lead magnet that’s 3 to 5 pages. When clients consult with me, we often focus choosing the topic and sketching out ideas for the lead magnet.
You now have a small but powerful presence. You can test response to your topic for a very low investment.
(4) Don’t wait till you get a website to “figure out how to explain what you offer.” Be able to explain your services in a sentence or two – the infamous elevator speech. Consider creating a story speech instead of an elevator speech. Test your explanation at networking events and prospects you encounter.
“I work with women who are newly divorced and seeking to build a new social life. Based on my own forgettable experiences after my divorce, I’ve developed a 5-step plan to build confidence and meet new people without using dating services or singles groups.”
“I work with executives who have been laid off from senior level corporate positions. I partner with them to move to a new job or their own business, leveraging their experience to move quickly to get back in the saddle.”
(5) If you’re a coach, writer or consultant, offer to work with a small number of clients for a deeply-discounted fee. You might make this offer after a webinar or live talk, or with people you meet at a networking session. If you can’t find people to pay even a smaller fee, then you need to modify your offer, find a new market, or revise your description to focus on the benefits you offer.
(6) Send out a prospect letter to anyone who might have contacts with your ideal clients. This letter shares the news of your new service, spells out the type of referrals you’re seeking and briefly explains the benefits. You can get a template for this letter when you buy either Quick Start Guide To Marketing Yourself As A Coach or Becoming A Copywriter.
(7) Once you’ve established that there IS a market for your offer, and you’ve demonstrated that people WILL pay you, it’s time to set up a website. You can DIY or hire resources. Click here to discover the services I offer for web development.
One of the most important pages on your website is your About Page. Your first step to a compelling, high converting About Page? Tell your story! Learn more here.
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