For many independent professionals, knowing where to “fish” for good prospects is a crucial step in putting together a solid marketing plan. Once you know where your most promising prospects gather, you can begin to identify opportunities to connect with, serve, and support them.
Key questions for finding the best prospects
There are a few key questions that can help you profile your customer and hone in on fantastic opportunities for serving them.
- Who have I enjoyed serving most? Who has given me a particularly profound sense of joy, contribution and fulfillment?
- Is there a group or industry that seems drawn to my work?
- Who is giving me the most referrals? Why?
- Do I have professional and/or corporate experience in a field or industry that would benefit from the ways I want to make a difference?
While there is no fool-proof road map to uncovering your ideal customer, there are some things you can do to begin identifying where in the marketplace a pool of great prospects exists for your work. I’ve offered several key research strategies for finding customers in my article, “How do I find good customers.” Tops on the list is uncovering which associations provide a gathering-place for people whose needs, frustrations, goals, hopes and dreams are aligned with what you offer.
Network with clients through associations
Associations are basically professional affinity groups, and there is an association for every kind of profession and professional imaginable. When you’re contemplating a certain customer profile, sometimes it can be helpful to learn what associations are acting as a hub for these people; then, you can find out what opportunities might exist for you to network and showcase within them through local meetings, national events, trade shows and industry publications, etc.
There are three resources that might help you find the association(s) you’re looking for:
- American Society of Association Executives and the Center for Association Leadership – Directory of Associations. This resource is easy-to-use and updated daily. We recommend using the “Association Name Contains” search feature. This resource will show you the associations, but not their email or web address. You will have to search the web with the association name to find the right URL.
- Weddles Association Directory. This list is broken down by subject or industry, and will link you directly to the corresponding website. There isn’t a feature that allows you to do a search of the entire database. You will need to select from their industry categories.
- Concept Marketing Group’s Directory of Associations. This is a subscription-based service, with a 48-hour free trial.
Question: What resources have you found to be good sources of information for tapping into your market?