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Positioning for Success: How Consultants Can Differentiate and Attract Ideal Clients

The problem with being a writer is most people can actually write, especially if they’re a business owner. The problem with being a writer of marketing content, is most business owners know a thing or two about marketing as well.

Often, when clients reach out to me for help, they’ve already decided what the solution is.

They say they need to update their web copy. Or they need to create more engaging LinkedIn posts. Or they need emails that convert better.

And sometimes that’s true.

But often, when I ask them why they want to do these things? what led to this decision? what will they do with this content when it’s created? – it turns out the solution they’ve decided they need isn’t the right solution at all.

Say, for example, they aren’t getting the right clients reaching out to them. Or they aren't getting enough clients to fill their pipeline. Or the right prospects aren’t converting into clients. [All very common problems, by the way.]

This might not be a marketing problem at all. It’s actually more likely to be a positioning problem.

Because if you aren't clear about the value you bring to your clients and what differentiates you from your competitors – and you aren’t making this clear in your marketing – no amount of copy or content will help you attract better clients.

In her new book, Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning So Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It, April Dunford says, “Every single marketing and sales tactic that we use in business today uses positioning as an input and foundation. To put it another way, none of the new cool stuff works without good positioning as a starting point.”

What is Positioning?

Positioning, in the context of business consultants, refers to the deliberate and strategic process of defining and establishing a unique identity and value proposition within the marketplace. It involves shaping how you want potential clients to perceive you and what sets you apart from your competitors.

Think of positioning as the lens through which clients view your services. It goes beyond simply stating what you do or the services you offer. It's about articulating the specific benefits and outcomes clients can expect when they work with you.

For example, let's consider a business consultant who specializes in helping small businesses optimize their operations and increase efficiency. Their positioning might focus on being a trusted partner who helps business owners streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve productivity. They may emphasize their expertise in identifying bottlenecks, implementing effective systems, and providing tailored solutions to drive growth.

By establishing this positioning, the consultant differentiates themselves from generalists and highlights their expertise in a specific area. Potential clients seeking assistance with operational efficiency will recognize the consultant as a specialist and be more likely to choose them over competitors who offer a broader range of services.

Positioning also involves identifying and understanding your target market. For our example consultant, they may focus on small businesses in specific industries or geographic locations. This targeted approach enables them to tailor their messaging and solutions to the unique challenges faced by their ideal clients.

Why is Positioning Important?

Positioning is crucial for business consultants for several reasons:

  1. Differentiation: In a competitive market, positioning allows you to stand out from the crowd. It helps you define what sets you apart from other consultants and creates a unique identity that resonates with clients. By clearly communicating your value proposition and highlighting your specialized expertise, you differentiate yourself from competitors who offer similar services. This differentiation builds trust and credibility, making it more likely for potential clients to choose you over others.

  2. Targeting the Right Clients: Positioning helps you attract the right clients—the ones who align with your expertise and can benefit the most from your services. By narrowing down your target market and focusing on a specific niche or industry, you can tailor your marketing efforts to reach the clients who are most likely to value and invest in your services. This targeted approach increases the chances of attracting clients who are a great fit and are more likely to have long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with you.

  3. Commanding Higher Fees: When you position yourself as an expert in a specific area, clients perceive you as having specialized knowledge and skills. This perception of expertise allows you to command higher fees for your services. Clients are willing to pay a premium for consultants who bring unique insights and can deliver exceptional results. Effective positioning helps you communicate your value and justify higher pricing, increasing your profitability and the perceived worth of your services.

  4. Building Credibility and Trust: Positioning establishes your credibility and builds trust with potential clients. When you have a clear positioning strategy, you can showcase your expertise, experience, and success stories that demonstrate your ability to deliver results. This evidence of your capabilities fosters trust and confidence in your potential clients, making it easier for them to choose you as their trusted advisor. Credibility and trust are crucial factors in building long-term relationships and generating positive word-of-mouth referrals.

  5. Marketing Effectiveness: Positioning guides your marketing efforts and messaging. When you have a clear understanding of your unique value proposition and target audience, you can create compelling marketing content that resonates with potential clients. Your positioning serves as a guide for crafting impactful messages that address your clients' pain points and highlight the specific benefits you offer. This alignment between your positioning and marketing messages increases the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and attracts the attention of the right audience.

What are the Key Signs Your Consultancy isn’t Positioned Effectively?

  1. Lack of Clarity in Your Message: If potential clients struggle to understand what you offer or how you can help them, it's a sign that your positioning might not be clear. If your messaging is vague or generic, it becomes difficult for clients to differentiate you from other consultants. Your message should clearly articulate your unique value proposition and the specific benefits clients can expect from working with you.

  2. Difficulty Attracting Ideal Clients: If you consistently attract clients who don't align with your expertise or target market, it suggests a positioning misalignment. When your positioning is effective, it helps you attract clients who value and appreciate the specific solutions you provide. If you find yourself working with clients who are not an ideal fit, it's an indication that your positioning may need adjustment to attract the right audience.

  3. Price Sensitivity and Fee Negotiations: When clients frequently question or negotiate your fees, it may indicate that your positioning is not effectively conveying the value you bring. If clients don't perceive your expertise and differentiation, they may view your services as interchangeable with others in the market. Reviewing your positioning strategy can help you better communicate your unique value and justify your pricing.

  4. Lack of Referrals and Repeat Business: Referrals and repeat business are indicators of satisfied clients who recognize your value. If you're not receiving consistent referrals or seeing repeat business, it could suggest that your positioning is not effectively conveying your expertise and the positive outcomes you deliver. Refocusing on your positioning can help strengthen client satisfaction and generate more advocacy for your services.

  5. Inconsistent Marketing Results: If your marketing efforts are not generating the desired results, it may be a result of ineffective positioning. Your marketing messages should align with your positioning strategy to attract the right audience. If you're not seeing engagement, conversions, or a steady flow of leads, it's a signal to reassess your positioning and ensure your messaging is effectively reaching and resonating with your target market.

  6. Internal Disconnection and Lack of Confidence: If you or your team feel disconnected from the value you bring or lack confidence in your expertise, it's a red flag for positioning issues. Effective positioning should instill a sense of pride, clarity, and confidence within your organization. If there's internal uncertainty or a lack of belief in your positioning, it's important to revisit and realign your strategy.

From Positioning to Engagement: Building a Winning Content Strategy

So, next time you ask a copywriter for help creating a specific piece of content, don’t be surprised if they ask you some searching questions. If they are dedicated to creating marketing content that is worth the investment you’re making, they should be digging into the problem you want to solve and the outcomes you want to achieve, not just agreeing to whatever marketing projects you want to cross off your to-do list.

If you need help creating a content strategy that is clearly aligned with and supports the goals you’re working towards in your business, reach out. I’d love to help.

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