One strategy that has proven effective for freelancers in building business is to focus on one sector and begin to develop both knowledge and a profile. If you are a freelancer you may benefit from these tips from Fergal Bell on how to choose your target market.
Every sector has its own acronyms, jargon, issues and concerns and by immersing oneself in a specific area, a freelancer can develop a deeper understanding of the pressure points of their clients.
For example, for a client who is a service provider where customer feedback is important, being able to coordinate customer feedback on their website with analysis of survey results may firstly switch on a light bulb in their minds and secondly have them reaching for their diaries to confirm the freelancer’s availability. Client needs can sometimes arise as a response to topical or regulatory issues and being aware of a client’s likely concerns allows a freelancer to prepare possible solutions in advance.
For example, in 2010 a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland caused severe disruption to flights and holidays. In this situation a travel agent client may have benefited from an addition to their website that automatically forwarded guidance to registered holiday makers by email or smartphone app. As another example, cases are periodically reported in the news of customer data being stolen or going missing. In these situations, a freelancer who was able to present their client with an enhanced security capability for their website that provided peace of mind to their customers, may be able to demonstrate a real benefit of using their services. A freelancer that can demonstrate an understanding of their client’s business will boost their credibility immeasurably, and reposition themselves from being just another web designer to being a business partner. Separately, by concentrating on one market it becomes far easier for a freelancer to build up an expert profile.
Focusing external activities in a narrow but structured way can concentrate their effectiveness. For example, in one scenario a web designer provides information in a health professionals’ social media forum about linking common patient enquiries to relevant Department of Health information. This allows the freelancer to reach a defined market with relevant information that demonstrates their expertise.
Even in the gambling industry, there are new opportunities to reach more customers as more and more people are seeing matched betting or back and lay bets as a way of life. Instead of just marketing to the seasoned gamblers, professionals are now understanding that those who have never gambled before may be interested in a game. Especially if the rewards outweigh the risks. Of course, this throws up ethical questions but for marketing purposes, this does demonstrate how new opportunities can be uncovered.
The members of a forum will usually be relatively open to such a message, if it is presented well, as there is an affiliation of sorts. Marketing can be as low-key as commenting in a forum and it is far more effective when individuals perceive a benefit. The key is to help members, rather than to sell to them and by providing a solution to a need a freelancer can do this effectively. When it comes to spending money, clients only ever really buy from those they trust can meet a need. A recommendation works because the client trusts the judgement of the person making the recommendation and their experience of using the service previously. In addition, professional recommendations tend to be made between individuals operating within the same market. By focusing on one market a freelancer can build up a network of contacts more easily and also target their marketing activities more effectively.