It felt dirty. Wrong. Manipulative. And downright icky. Even in anticipation of a possible sales conversation, it was difficult for me to answer the question, “what do you do?”
I would often have an inner conflict about saying what I do. I felt attached to what others would think of me in that moment—attached to whether or not they will choose to work with me. I still feel all of this at times…
What’s helped with this is having an ideal client in mind. In the world of marketing, there is an emphasis on articulating one’s “ideal client.” This profile, comprising both internal (psychographic) and external (demographic) factors, is used to determine how a business will spend their time and money in marketing. It’s about letting specific groups of people know the business is available to serve them.
The advantage of this approach is that it saves the business time and money for marketing efforts and leads to shorter sales cycles (“sales cycles:” another term makes my inner monk cringe). Rather than trying to reach everyone, the point is to reach the people that the business can best support.
What this tells me is to look for a resonance with others. I can narrow my range from everyone to just the kind of people I have successfully helped and love to help. Instead of putting out the vague question, “how would you like a better life?,” I ask, “How would you like to know what’s truly unique about your business and how to convey that special element?” It’s like I’m creating a groovy pathway that will make it easy for a certain kind of person to find me, trust I can help them, and then engage in working with me.
Now, even though I have this concept down, AND it’s what my business partner and I teach others, the irony is that speaking my brand has been one of my biggest challenges as a business owner. Because of this, at times I wonder, “who am I to help my clients get more grounded and authentic in their messaging? I don’t fully embody what I preach!”
And then I realize, even though I’m not always 100% confident in my own abilities, I am still quite effective at getting others to expand their own capacities in this area.
My shadow—this thing about answering the “what do you do?” question and anything that smells of sales—shows up in my ideal clients as undeveloped. This part of them needs support and care and love.
When I’m off-balance, I can hear myself being hard on them for not getting it. Guess who I am really being hard on? That’s right—myself.
I believe that my ideal clients show up to remind me what I am still working out in myself. They show up so that I can practice compassion for the part of me I see in them. And in doing so, I serve as my true self: imperfect, vulnerable, honest, and deeply connected to the challenge my clients are facing as a result of my own experience.
They show up to receive compassion and insight around a context that is linked to my own journey.
I don’t know a more beautiful way to see marketing: as the decision and precision of articulating who my “ideal clients” are as a way to focus compassion in the place I most need it.
Selfish? I’m not so sure. It seems to be good for everyone. And as long as it is, I’m willing to leverage my own business for the purpose of healing.
Like a good monk would.