How do I reach people who need my work but don’t know it exists?

Q & A by C.J. HaydenThe challenge with marketing unique, experiential work like new healing modalities, personal growth approaches, or transformative group processes is that your ideal prospective clients aren’t already seeking it. They are looking for ways to improve their lives or strengthen their teams, yes, but they aren’t typing words that match your specialized approach into a search engine, nor are they asking friends and colleagues, “Do you know anyone who offers [your unique process]?” This is very different from marketing an easily identifiable line of work like massage therapy or conflict resolution, where people already know they want it and can ask for it by name.

In this situation, your most effective avenue to find new clients is to expose people to your work, so that they can experience a small piece of it, and then realize they want more. Take a few moments to read my article How Can You Sell It If They’ve Never Heard of It?

There are 6 different approaches described there for exposing prospective clients to the type of work you do. Start by choosing just one of those approaches to be your focus and seek out places where you can use that approach to reach people who are pre-disposed to be attracted to what you do. It’s likely you have already identified some of the key benefits your work provides. What categories of people are most likely to need those benefits?

For example, let’s say a key benefit of your work is to help people develop better coping skills. One group of people who might benefit from work like that would be caregivers — those who are caring for others who are ill, disabled, infants, or elders. If you chose classes and workshops as being the approach you’d like to use to expose new people to your work, you would want to seek out places that caregivers are already gathering. You could identify support groups for illnesses and disabilities, networks of single parents, nurses associations, etc. and offer to present a brief workshop to their group.

Remember that in this case, you are using workshops as a marketing strategy, not as a line of business. So you would offer a sample of your work to the organization at no charge, and invite those who attend to experience the work in more depth by participating in a paid seminar or private session.

By making use of already-existing groups to engage people in your work, you are short-cutting the effort it takes to find those people and gather them together on your own, which is a huge savings of time and money. You just need to be sure that you pick groups where there would be a clear connection between the group’s purpose and the solution you are offering.

If you find a category of people that seem to be naturally receptive to your work, try to find more people like them before branching out to more categories. So in the example above, if caregivers seem to respond well, look for more caregivers before you try other categories you think might benefit from improved coping skills, like teachers or law enforcement. That way you can benefit from the cargeiver contacts you make by asking for referrals or introductions to other people and organizations they might know.

When you are marketing an unknown option, you must become an educator, teaching people about the unique solution you offer to the problem they have, and demonstrating to them the expertise you have acquired in delivering this specialized approach. That way you will build their trust and increase your credibility at the same time as you are making your work more visible.

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