Approaching new markets with no samples to show

Ilise Benun on your online marketing planThe new year is right around the corner and I hope you are thinking about how you’re going to make 2013 your best year yet.

The economy is improving, there is less uncertainty now that the election is behind us, Cyber Monday reports show that people are buying again, and the future looks brighter.

This is the perfect time to approach a new market, to get the work you want and clients with budgets (who also value your services).

But what if you want to approach the healthcare market, for example, but you don’t have any healthcare experience or samples?

I hear this question a lot. But frankly, I don’t see the problem. I think creative professionals rely too heavily on a portfolio of past work anyway. Yes, new prospects will want to see who you’ve worked with and what you’ve done for them.

But studies have shown that they first want to know what you can do for them. They want to hear about potential first.

I’ve always had a feeling this was true and have advised my clients accordingly. But last week I found the proof.

Here’ an excerpt from a blog post on “Influence at Work” under the auspices of Dr. Robert Cialdini, PhD and author of one of my favorite marketing books, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

…if you want to increase the chances that your products and services appear more attractive to future clients and consumers it would be wise to consider how to position messages in a way that first focuses a client’s or consumer’s attention on the potential future benefits that your proposal offers to them as opposed to what has been previously achieved.”

Read the rest of the blog post here.

So actually, what is more relevant to your prospects, whether they know it or not, is what you could potentially do for them — not what you’ve done for other clients.

And if you position yourself right, focusing on the potential rather than the past, you are more likely to arouse their interest anyway. So what should you do?

When someone says, “Send me samples,” or “I’ll look at your web site,” respond with. “If you don’t mind, I think it would be more useful if we talked first about what you need and how I could help. Then I’ll see which of my samples are most relevant to your needs.”

Try that and let me know how it goes.

One thought on “Approaching new markets with no samples to show

  1. Kristen Fischer

    I run into this issue too; prospects sometimes want a niche writer but I can write for any industry–all they need is a good writer. So I try to persuade that I can write in that style and show relevant examples of that style (technical, marketing, journo, etc.) in the past. That usually sells it!