How to Determine Your Target Clients as a Consultant

By MBO Partners | April 20, 2018

consultants looking at whiteboard

Identifying a target audience can help direct your business strategy towards a specific goal. Many independent consultants can benefit from revisiting their target clientele, so whether you’re just starting out or looking to refocus the target market for your business, defining the clients you want to reach can help increase your return on investment by directing marketing and messaging efforts to the right audience. Here are four ways to ensure your services reach the right people.

1. Define Your Skills and Services

Before trying to identify your target audience, first think about the services you offer. What makes them unique, what problem do they solve, and are they fulfilling a market need? Review your unique skills, write them down, and then list the corresponding benefits that someone could receive from each one of your skills. This self-analysis will help provide a foundational outline for the types of people likely to benefit from your services. Companies that engage independent talent are looking for skills, experience, and value.  Joining an online consulting job marketplace will allow you to highlight these skills so potential clients can find you.

2. Identify Who Benefits Most from Your Business

Your work is about more than just the services you offer; it’s about how you can address a need or solve a problem that potential clients have. Successful independent consultants are able to recognize the people who both need and value their services. Using your skills/benefit list, think about the people who will gain value from what you have to offer, have the most to lose from not utilizing your services, and would be willing to pay what you’re charging—this is your target market.

For example, if you’re an IT consultant, research growing companies looking to increase IT infrastructure, or start-ups trying to establish their business to find people who fit your target audience.

3. Study Current Clients

Take a look at your current and past clients. List each client’s demographics, including age, industry, profession, gender, and geographic region. You can also include psychographics such as client values, interests, lifestyle, and behavior. Compare these lists and take careful note of similarities or patterns that emerge; you may find that your services appeal to a specific demographic or subset of consumers. This analysis can help to further define your target market. Be sure to identify your top clients and take note of why they are using your services and what initially drove them to you. This is key insight that you can utilize in future marketing efforts.

4. Investigate Your Competition

Studying your competition’s clients can provide two important points of information. First, a successful competitor’s client base can give you an idea of the type of client who uses similar services. Second, you may discover an industry need that competitors are not currently fulfilling. If you’re new to independent consulting and are working to acquire your first clients, investigating your competition is a good place to start. Dig deeper by looking at competitor’s social media, advertising, and website traffic to get an idea of their business strategy. With a bit of research, you may find an area you have a competitive advantage in or come across a market gap that is not being served.

Once you’ve gone through these steps, think back on the audience you’ve defined. Does your target clientele make sense? Are there enough people to fulfill a need for your services, and can they afford what you are thinking of charging? As you continue to build out your target audience, research online to see what others in your industry are doing, look at blogs and forums where your audience may be sharing their opinions, and consider reaching out to current clients for feedback. Remember, while accurately and thoroughly defining your target audience takes time, it is well worth the effort to create a strong foundation to build your business on.

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