I’ve seen so many people get stuck about how to come up with the perfect professional title or succinct description of their work.
Here’s the secret:
It’s mostly a vanity exercise, unless you come up with a brilliant brand name, but that can take a lot of time. You can simply let it surface organically. If you keep waiting for that perfect name before you start your marketing, you might just go out of business.
You don’t need a perfect title or short description to start getting clients.
No matter what your title is, you’ll notice that your friends, colleagues, referral sources, and clients probably won’t remember it anyway. They’ll use their own words to describe what you do. (Or even if you’ve made them memorize your title, they still won’t really understand what it means!)
How do you help them accurately describe your work? Two ways:
When you don’t have any clients yet, it’s imperative that you give many people an experience of the work that you want to get paid for.
Start with your friends, of course. Use the tapering strategy to get your first clients, some of which may be free for now. Don’t worry so much about making a profit at this stage. It’s more important to gain some advocates for your business first, to build a foundation of referrals.
“But how do I describe what I do to my friends?”
Quickly come up with any succinct description or title that you're OK with for now, knowing that it is going to evolve a lot as your business grows. Your friends will be forgiving! Some of them may even be willing to give you feedback and help you develop that description or title. Ask for their help.
Just come up with 2 things quickly:
It’s fine, as long as it isn’t offensive :)
Ask your friends to give you feedback. As you get others to give you their opinion and suggestions about your description, they are learning about your work. Who knows, they might even refer some clients while the description is fresh in their mind!
But don’t delay. Give yourself just 1-month (or less) to come up with something, with the help of your friends, and then get that description out there!
Again, it’s more important that (1) more people experience your actual work and (2) that you start posting content consistently.
When I started my business 12 years ago, I quickly came up with the title “Social Media Coach” because I found myself consulting other coaches about their social media. My business quickly evolved to teaching online courses, but anyway, the title had stuck with me and others.
Then the topics I taught expanded beyond social media, so I changed my title to "Authentic Business Coach", since most of my peers were “business coaches” and I simply added the word “authentic” in the front, since it’s one of my core values. This was 7 years ago.
Fast forward to today, my business has evolved so much more. I don’t do any 1-1 coaching anymore, but I haven’t figured out another title, so I’m just going to keep using “Authentic Business Coach” for now. It’s not ideal, but whatever. The key is this: even with this somewhat inaccurate description, my business just keeps growing anyway. People keep referring new students to my courses. Like I said, it doesn’t matter!
People now know me by (1) my work and (2) my content. Like I said, as long as the title isn’t offensive and too unrelated, it’s fine!
Even having that suboptimal title, I’ve developed a continually growing business in a highly competitive industry. So you can always look at me as one example that a "bad" description doesn't really matter for marketing, even in the marketing industry!
I got my initial clients by giving some of my friends an experience of what I do. Then, I got most of my clients over the years because I have been very consistent with posting content on social media. Content is an excellent ongoing demonstration of one’s expertise, passion, and presence.
Given my own experience, I’ve become an advocate of authentic content marketing.
So let me encourage you to hold lightly to your professional title and description. Your work will evolve a lot in the first few years or perhaps change directions entirely. Modify your title and description anytime you like. Then, over time, you’ll settle on a title that is mostly good.
Yet, you’ll find that it doesn’t really matter :)
If you want a stellar brand and description, you can simply let it arrive in due time. Until that brilliant idea comes to you (and it’s ok if it’s years), just focus on building a full client load now, by doing your good work and serving the world with your content!
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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Here's why :)