You’ve identified your ideal client and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you can make a significant impact on his or her life. At this point you’re left with a nagging challenge. How do you help those ideal clients recognize that you don’t just bring something good, but something unique from every other advisor.
You need a beacon that makes it clear to prospective clients that you are the right advisor for them.
Your website is certainly a good place to start; it’s your best way of communicating that you understand the needs of your target market. You might also consider a dedicated page for those prospective clients who are referred.
But there’s something more you can do. And while it requires time and effort, it can have a meaningful impact on growth and significantly enhance your credibility in the eyes of your target audience.
The Power of Research
I’ve built a career and a business on conducting research that leads to insights which, I hope, are important to exactly the kind of people with whom I want to work. So far, so good.
In the process, I’ve learned that research not only makes your offer better, it enhances credibility and creates greater confidence among prospects and clients. You’re more credible because you’ve done the math, uncovered the evidence and translated that into something meaningful for the people you serve.
So what does all of this have to do with your business?
If you’re willing to think just slightly outside of the box, it could be a great deal. With ‘relative’ ease you can conduct new research among your target market that will help you build deeper relationships and set you apart from the crowd. It will be the beacon that points to you as an expert in the needs of exactly the clients you want to target.
The idea of conducting research may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little focus, access to a survey tool (like Survey Monkey) and a targeted list, you can create something compelling. I’m not talking about the kind of research on which you might base a PhD dissertation, but research that shines a light on the issues facing your target market – simple but meaningful.
Your How-To Guide
Imagine your goal is to work with dentists (feel free to insert the target market of your choice here and throughout this example). You’ve defined your target and you’re passionate about working with them. Now you need to convince them that you understand their needs better than anyone else by conducting new research.
Step 1: Pick a Theme
Your research should focus on a topic that’s simple yet compelling. Ideally the topic will evoke specific types of questions in the minds of your target audience. “What are my peers doing that is successful? How are others tackling this challenge? How do I stack up relative to my peers in this area?”
The respondents need to have an interest in how they compare to others, or in how others are succeeding in some aspect of their business, to make the research work. You also want to stay away from topics that require you to ask for information that’s too confidential, as you won’t be known to many of the respondents. Finally, your topic doesn’t have to have anything to do with investments or the markets. (I could argue it shouldn’t have anything to do with investments or the markets.)
Options for dentists might include:
- Creating long-term value in a dental practice
- Tactics to differentiate your dental practice
- The most successful ways to attract new clients
- Top productivity hacks for dentists
Step 2: Craft the Questions
Create 10-15 questions that focus on the topic you’ve selected. Your goal is to get at the best practices of your target audience and to uncover their biggest challenges. Run your questions by a client who is already a part of your target audience, to ensure you’re on point. Better still, create a one-time focus group of 5-6 clients, who are in your target group, and invite their input in crafting the questions.
Step 3: Find a Partner to Help you Access Your Target Market
This is a critical step, unless you happen to have access to a robust list of prospective clients. Assuming that’s not the case, find a partner who does and who has an interest in sharing new insights. Trade publications are a great idea.
For example, you could partner with a trade publication for dentists or, perhaps, with their professional association. Offer to make them the ‘media partner’ on the research, at no cost, and give them exclusive access the results. Many will send an email with your research link to their subscribers, on this basis. Others may ask you to pay, but think about the potential return. You’re getting your name in front of a significant group of potential clients who fit your ideal.
Step 4: Program Your Survey and Invitation
You can use Survey Monkey to program the survey, provided you have the paid version to allow you to reach a larger audience. You can also hire someone to program the survey for you and avoid the learning curve on that. I’m all for delegation on this front.
Step 5: Conduct the Research
Create an invitation which highlights: why this research is important, how it will help dentists and what the respondent will receive for taking some time to participate. Your media partner will send that invitation out and responses will come back to you directly via the survey software.
Step 6: Create an Offer for Participants
Offer a summary of the results for dentists who provide an email address. You guessed it. You’re not only enhancing your credibility but gaining permission to communicate with a new group of prospects.
Step 7: Summarize the Findings and Share with Respondents
Create a report that highlights the results and key implications for dentists. Email that to all respondents and offer some further insight into you and your business. Fight the urge to share too much about yourself, focusing instead on why you’re passionate about working with this target audience.
Step 8: Leverage the Results (in every way possible)
- Run a webinar on the results and invite everyone who participated or was invited. You could share the results yourself or perhaps interview several dentists to discuss the implications.
- Write an article on the results for your media partner.
- Write a blog post on the results for your website.
- Send the summary of results to all your clients and, if appropriate, centers of influence.
- Create ‘factoids’ – small snippets of information that you can share via social media.
- Create a video, recorded using GoToWebinar (or similar), of you discussing the results and implications. Send a link to clients and prospects, as well as sharing on social media.
You get the picture. One investment in a meaningful activity and you can leverage the results in multiple ways. The real benefit is that you’re enhancing your own credibility among (and your own understanding of) the market you want to serve. And you’re doing that while getting their attention.
What do you think? Share your feedback or comments below.
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