03 October 2008

Starting a Business During Scary Economic Times

Eighteen years ago I started my psychotherapy practice during version one of Bush-onomics. Now I’m shifting into coaching and client attraction mentoring during the tail end (should that be tail spin??) of Bush-onomics version two. My mom always said I like doing things the hard way.

My point is, though, that it can be done. While the fear-based conventional wisdom will be that you should conserve your resources and take whatever steady paycheck you can get, my soul just doesn’t go along with that. My guess is that yours doesn’t, either.

How to Survive Now to Thrive as Quickly as Possible

It comes down to knowing very clearly and specifically who your ideal client is, and what they are most distressed about right now that they will gladly pay you to help them do, eliminate, or solve. What motivates your target client type during fearful economic times?

The days of marketing yourself as a generalist are over. When people are counting every penny and are fearful of letting go of a buck, they seek the expert they believe they can afford. Keyword there is expert. If you aren’t distinguishing yourself in your marketplace as at least a specialist – if not an expert – you aren’t using the energy of the times to build your business.

And make no mistake – coaching is a business. If you are running yours like a hobby, start filling out those applications for unemployment compensation. Unless you win the lottery or are already independently wealthy, no business will survive these economic times if the business owner is simply dabbling.

So, what motivates your target client type during fearful economic times? You must discover that, name it and its consequences, and focus on that in your marketing.

3 Ways to Discover Your Clients’ Motivators

1. Ask everyone you know what they are scared of right now. Make a list of the words they use (this is market research).

2. Model your ideal client on yourself – what freaks you out about your own financial situation? You’re already a specialist in understanding this type of client (assuming you are self-aware).

3. Spend a week paying attention to how your general competitors are marketing to the ideal client you share in common (this is marketing intelligence). Make a list of the emotionally compelling points they make.

Craft Your Message to Fit Your Clients’ Psyche

People make hiring and purchasing decisions based on emotional perception of want, and either logical or fantasy expectations of the results. Know what your clients’ ultimate wants are (such as: to feel safe, to save money, to end conflict in relationship, etc) and highlight those in your marketing message. Present yourself in a way that is unique from your colleagues so that you will stand out in the prospective clients’ view as if in a spotlight.

These strategies will help your start up business survive through these scary times.

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