Appealing to everyone could be hurting your marketing not helping

Are you trying to appeal to everyone? It’s one of the classic mistakes many self-employed HR consultants (and self-employed business owners of any sort really) make. It’s understandable – you don’t want to rule out any potential clients, particularly in the early days of your business. But here’s why it could be harming your business rather than helping.

You’ve started your own HR consultancy after probably several years’ experience in HR. During that time, you may have worked in different sized organisations and gained experience of a broad range of HR activities, and acquired a lot of knowledge and experience.

As a result, you may well be perfectly capable of doing pretty anything, from a minor query about holiday pay to a large-scale TUPE or implementing a completely new salary structure. You might be capable of servicing any kind of client. Any size of business. And because you can do all of those things, because they could all be potential clients, you don’t want to risk shutting any opportunities out, or having any potential client thinking you couldn’t do what they need.

As a result, you are deliberately vague and broad in your marketing – on your website, on your social media and with anything else you are doing. You make sure every possibility is covered, either with a long list of potential services and potential kinds of client, or with none at all – saying you cover “the whole range” of HR services for “any” organisation.

But trying to market yourself to everyone actually means you’re not effectively marketing to any of them. Potential clients will find it confusing and won’t be sure whether your services are designed for them or not.

They might prefer a specialist in whatever they need (let’s face it, if you’ve got a plumbing emergency you want a plumber, you don’t want a general handyperson), or someone who clearly ‘gets’ their issues and understands their needs. Although you might be able to understand the needs and issues of any type and size of employer, by trying to “speak” to all of them you will give the impression you don’t.

By being very specific and narrowing your marketing (and your products and services offer) to a much smaller market, you can make sure everything you do and say is very tailored and very specifically targeted at that market. Which means it will work much better! If you’re trying to sell, say, a training course you’ve developed, or support with redundancy, or in fact anything at all, talking about how that issue is of concern to the kind of client you’re aiming at will be more effective. You can speak to specific pain points and needs, which will be different.

And actually, you can really narrow it to great effect. Using the training course example, it could actually be a pretty generic training course for line managers handling difficult conversations. You could directly aim your marketing at (say) small businesses, which would be better than trying to appeal to all sizes of business. Small businesses have particular needs and issues in common that you could use in marketing.

But actually you could narrow it much further, and aim at, say, small independent hospitality businesses. Imagine the manager of a restaurant scrolling through social media. A training course designed to help hospitality managers dealing with a specific issue will really ‘jump out’ as really relevant to them, and make them far more likely to engage.

Sometimes people are reluctant to do this. They’ve got loads of experience of different things and feel like they’re ‘wasting’ it, or not making the most of it. But ultimately you want your marketing to be successful, and if narrowing the focus of your online presence and marketing materials makes it work better, that’s got to be a good thing. And all that experience won’t be wasted, as it has made you a well-rounded, knowledgeable individual, who can probably bring ideas and experiences from different environments to benefit your new clients.

We’re actively looking for new partners to launch in September 2023 so if you like the idea of running you own HR consultancy and want to discuss joining us, do get in touch.