Ever feel you’re making a lot of forward progress but don’t really know where you’re going?

Today a client brought this concern up in an email to me. She’s been doing really well at attracting new clients but wants to get a different kind of client but is not clear about her direction.

Half the battle of attracting clients is becoming clear on the following three questions:

1. Who are my ideal clients? Individuals, small business owners, or corporations? What industry, job title, etc.

2. What are their problems, challenges and issues? If you don’t know or understand what your clients are struggling with, it’s hard to get their attention and interest.

3. What outcomes do they want? This is usually the mirror image of #2 above. You just need to articulate it in a way that resonates with your ideal clients.

If you are clear on all of the above, you can then develop and implement various marketing strategies to get in front of these ideal clients, make connections, and ultimately convert them into paying clients.

But what if you’re not clear about who your ideal clients are, their challenges and desired outcomes?

Then you need to do some work to get clear. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Inventory your strengths. Let’s say you’re a business coach or consultant of some kind. What skills do you excel at? Are you analytical or relational? Do you like detail work or do you prefer mapping out the big picture? Do you like hands-on projects or would you prefer to support others in accomplishing things?

2. What work is most fulfilling for you? You may have strengths in various areas, but what work do you find the most fun and interesting? Working alone, analyzing spreadsheets might float your boat, or leading large group training sessions may be your definition of exhilaration.

3. Where is the demand and the money? You might love the idea of organizing women’s kitchens for maximum efficiency, but struggle to find anyone to pay you to do that. But organizing the office space of large law firms may be even more satisfying and much more financially rewarding.

If you can find an overlap in these three areas, you’re closer to finding your “Marketing Sweet Spot.”

“I’m good at doing this, I really like doing that, and I know where there’s a need for my skills and the ability to pay me for them.”

Well, OK, but how do you get there?

It can be tricky figuring out this situation on your own as you’re caught in your own self-refferential bubble. You might know what you want but not what’s out there and available to you.

The way to figure this out is to get out there and talk to people. A lot of people.

A current client of mine did this. Over a period of a few months, she set up appointments and interviewed 100 people in business.

She started connecting with the people she’d done business with during her 21-year career in the staffing industry and then asked them who else she should meet with.

She learned what they were all working on, what their challenges were, and what they wanted to accomplish.

She saw the areas where she could contribute her strengths in the areas she enjoyed, and where there was a need and demand.

And before too long, she became very clear on her marketing sweet spot.

And soon after that, a number of the people she’d interviewed ended up asking her how she could help them.

It took her awhile to figure out how she’d package her actual services, but before long she was offering consulting and training in communication skills and selling.

So, if you’re not clear on what you should be doing as an independent professional and where the demand is for your talents, I suggest you start reaching out to your network and setting up meetings.

Remember, you’re not selling your professional services yet; you’re on a journey of discovery that may lead to the independent professional business of your dreams.

This article was originally posted at Action Plan Marketing.

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at www.actionplan.club for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.