I have long encouraged accountants, who can do so, to focus their marketing messages, website messages, social media and Linkedin activity on their target audience. I have also been attempting to practice what I preach.

This leads to non-accountants asking what the heck do I mean now I reference “NED-style mentoring” everywhere? And also what type of accountants am I trying to attract?

It’s a fair challenge. So in this blog post you will see how I try to make it easy for my ideal clients to self-identify. And I hope this will also help you to consider how you might do the same as regards your ideal new clients too.

NED-style mentoring?
As I explain to the non-accountants who ask, it’s my attempt to make things easy for my ideal clients. The idea is that older accountants especially will be intrigued by the phrase ‘Non-Exec style mentoring’ – as it’s quite distinct from the messaging used by other coaches and mentors who work with accountants.

It builds on something said by a number of my mentoring clients about how they ‘use’ me to assist and support them. One said I was like a retired senior partner and another said he appreciated how I provided advice in the style of a Non-Exec Director. I thought that was better.

My clients quickly learn that I’m interested, committed, involved and supportive but, naturally, I don’t have any day-to-day involvement or responsibilities as regards their practice. And no long-term commitment beyond whatever they want me to have.  This is, indeed, much like the relationship that an NED will have with the Board they are advising.

I haven’t tested this but I have also assumed that my approach here doesn’t have the same appeal to younger accountants who might themselves prefer a younger mentor with a more structured style to me.

Focusing
For some time I have also emphasised that most of my clients are sole practitioner accountants – some work alone, others have a team. And more recently I’ve noted that most of my clients are in their fifties and sixties. I have both younger and older clients but a majority are in that age bracket – so, when I speak or write about my mentoring services I hope that the older sole practitioners will recognise themselves. And that they will relate to the examples, commercial and practical advice I share.

Indeed, you might hear me say that most of my clients are overwhelmed, frustrated older sole practitioners.  If this is describing you then perhaps we should talk.

Confused?
The remaining confusion of which I’m aware is that I still speak at webinars, seminars and conferences where a much wider range of accountants can benefit from my insights and advice. In those situations I tailor what I discuss to suit the audience – whatever the age and whatever size firms they are in.

But, when it comes to 1-2-1 mentoring and online mentoring groups I embrace my specialism and make clear that I am available to help more of the clients who get the most value from working with me and whose questions, style and approach I appreciate too.

What about you?
Have you ever tried this approach to marketing your practice and services? To be clear about who you really want as clients rather than just to take on anyone and everyone?

It’s working for me
My mentoring client base has increased significantly since I started to clarify who is most likely to benefit from working with me and who am I most enjoy working with.

I think it helps that I also make clear I don’t run a standard program. And I’m not the sort of coach or mentor who wants to push their clients to do the things that I did in order to replicate my success (despite our background experiences and preferences probably being quite different).

That approach seems to appeal less to the older sole practitioners anyway so my approach is a welcome change.

And I make it easy for people to get in touch either by taking a chance and phoning me on spec or booking a short call in my calendar at a time that suits both of us – with no obligation or even expectation on my part that this will lead to her mentoring relationship.

What to expect?
Some of my newer mentoring clients have said in that call they don’t know how it would work if they engaged me as a mentor. This is especially true of those who had previously joined a program or a course pr who have no idea what to expect from a more freestyle mentoring arrangement.

Objectives
I always encourage my clients to be clear as to what difference they want to achieve from working with me so that we can work towards that objective – but on their terms, not mine. But even this doesn’t suit everyone. Some clients prefer to use me to bounce things around with or to obtain second opinions, insights and advice. That’s fine with me.

Agendas
I offer all my new clients a pro-forma agenda to help focus and structure our conversations. It is intended to ensure both that we address the issues THEY have prioritised during previous conversations; and also that we remain focused on THEIR priorities.

The weird thing is how few of my clients want even this level of structure. Many prefer to use each of our conversations as an opportunity to raise fresh topical issues related to their practice and clients. This leads to me sharing tips, insights and advice in my naturally supportive style to help them go on to achieve more and better things, to resolve issues, challenges and problems with their clients and to feel better and more confident about themselves and their practice.

And of course they know that, as long as they do not take liberties, I’m available to them in between our scheduled calls as well for quick emails or conversations if issues arise that can’t wait for our next scheduled call.

How about you?
I hope this has helped you consider how you might clarify your target audience and help them to recognise themselves.

And, of case, if you have recognised yourself as someone who might appreciate and benefit from my NED-style mentoring then do please get in touch to have a chat. Let’s see if we have the rapport necessary to allow me to help, support and work with you for a few months or even years into the future.

There’s no obligation. Just pick a time that suits you here now >>>