By, C.J. Hayden, MCC, Wings for Business, LLC
Why is it that some consultants, coaches, and other independent professionals have all the business they need, while others struggle by with only a few clients?
Is there a hidden secret no one is telling you?
The answer may be simpler than you think. In this special report, you will discover three things you may be doing now that can actually prevent you from getting clients, how the Persistence Effect can liberate your marketing, and one simple habit you can begin today that may bring you all the clients you will ever need.
I’ve been working with self-employed professionals like you since 1992, helping my clients, students, and readers to make more money with less effort, and teaching them how to earn a better living doing what they love. Please take a few moments now to read these five simple ideas that can change your marketing forever.
WHEN LESS BECOMES MORE
It’s easy to think there is some hidden secret to marketing your business or professional practice. There are so many books to read, classes to take, and mentors, coaches, and consultants you could hire that it makes the process seem mysterious or overwhelming. But there is a simple answer and it’s the first of five secrets I’m going to share with you.
1. Choose a set of simple, effective things to do and do them consistently.
The real key to successful marketing is picking just a few simple, effective things to do and then doing those things consistently. This is how you can build your business more quickly by doing less.
Imagine that you were trying to fill a water barrel with a drinking glass. You would have to make trip after trip, going back to the faucet over and over. In marketing, this is like doing a little bit of networking, some haphazard follow-up, trying to get some publicity, giving a talk, buying a booth at a trade show, placing an ad, then writing an article…
Instead, why not use a bucket to fill your barrel? You can carry more water while making fewer trips. Instead of spreading yourself thin with a dozen different marketing strategies, you could simply do some networking with consistent follow-up, give some talks and follow up with those you meet, and that would be it C just three strategies: networking, public speaking, and following up. Your barrel fills faster, and you’re less tired.
Trying to do too much is one of the ways you may be sabotaging your own marketing efforts. Stop-and-start marketing can actually prevent you from getting clients. It wears you out running back and forth. You never spend enough energy on any one approach to really make a difference, but instead you make yourself less efficient and effective in all areas.
THE PERSISTENCE EFFECT AT WORK
If you limit your marketing activities to what you can realistically do well, it becomes possible to give your marketing the essential quality of consistency. Instead of just hearing from you once, people begin to hear your name over and over. They begin to think of you when you’re not in touch and send you referrals. But to make this happen, you have to do the work. Positive intentions alone won’t create clients without more help from you.
2. Rely on the Persistence Effect, not on magic.
When you begin to move purposefully in a specific direction, energy is created and things begin to happen. There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when you get serious about marketing in a focused, consistent way. You begin to get results in unexpected places.
The phone rings, and it’s a prospect you spoke to three months ago saying they are suddenly interested in working with you. You go to a networking meeting that seems like a complete waste of time, and run into a hot new prospect in the elevator on your way out — who wasn’t even there for the meeting you went to. You get an exciting referral from someone whose name you don’t recognize. It’s almost as if the universe has noticed your dedication and decided to reward you.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these out-of-the-blue opportunities are accidents. There is a direct connection between the level of effort you put into marketing and the results you get out of it — even when it seems like the results are completely unrelated to your efforts.
This marketing phenomenon is so common that I have named it the Persistence Effect. If you persist in making ten calls a day, every day, you will get business, but it won’t all come from the calls you made. If you consistently attend one networking event per week, clients will appear, but not necessarily from the events you attended. Don’t worry about why it works; just know that it works. And don’t confuse the Persistence Effect with magical thinking. Just creating a positive intention for something doesn’t have this kind of payoff. You have to do something about it.
USING PULL INSTEAD OF PUSH
Another way you may be preventing yourself from getting clients is refusing to choose a niche for your business or private practice. I know, I know, you don’t want to limit yourself. But the truth is that having a niche doesn’t limit you; it focuses you. If a client shows up at your door, of course you can choose to work with them, regardless of whether they fit into your niche. But to be effective at marketing, you need some kind of organizing principle for your outreach activities. The universe is too big to market to all of it.
3. Choose a niche and become known for it.
Returning to our metaphor of the water barrel, not having a niche is like running all over town to different water faucets instead of coming back to the same one each time. Even if you do have a bucket instead of a drinking glass, it’s inefficient. And worse, you might not even be able to find the faucets in all those unfamiliar places.
Not having a niche means that attracting clients is impossible. You must spend all your time pursuing clients; there’s nothing that brings them to you.
Your niche can be a target market, a specialty or both. For example, your target market might be “executive women” or “high-tech companies.” Your specialty could be “career transition” or “productivity improvement.” Having both a target market and a specialty to define your niche is ideal, e.g. “executive women in career transition,” or “productivity improvement for high-tech companies.”
When you identify a niche that works for you, you can become known in that niche. That way, clients start calling you. Usually, you begin by networking in your niche and ultimately graduate to writing, speaking, or teaching to establish yourself as an expert. Keep in mind that networking is not just going to a room and exchanging business cards; it’s creating a pool of contacts from which you can draw clients, referrals, resources, ideas, and information
You don’t have to wait for word of mouth within your niche; you can create it, by actively reaching out to others who are either in your niche themselves or serve your niche by what they do. For example if your niche is helping small business owners become financially successful, certainly you want to network with entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals. But you should also get to know accountants, small business attorneys, staff at entrepreneurship centers, career counselors, psychotherapists, business bankers, newsletter editors, merchant card providers… anyone who comes in contact with your niche on a daily basis.
Meet with them, call them, write to them, write for them, speak to them, and teach them. Following the first rule of choosing a few simple things to do and doing them consistently, this is completely within your grasp if you focus on one narrowly defined niche. If you leave your niche too broad or try to “cheat” by having several niches, your client universe becomes too large and you are once again spread too thin.
SELL THE SIZZLE, NOT THE STEAK
Imagine you went to an auto mechanic, and he told you he was going to lift the hood of your car, shine a light around, and move some parts up and down. Does this sound like a service you would pay for? Of course not. What you want to hear from the mechanic is that he will fix your car. If you’re not telling clients about the results your work produces and the benefits they will get from it, they will never see the value of it.
4. Market the results of your work, not the process you use.
If you were in my profession of business coaching, and someone asked you, “What is coaching?” you would be unlikely to enroll a client by saying, “We meet by phone for half an hour each week and talk about your goals.” That’s just the process – where’s the value?
A slightly better answer might be to say, “Coaching is a process for helping you get what you want.” Now you are stating some value. But an even better answer would be not to market “coaching” at all, but instead to market higher earnings, improved selling skills, or more fulfilling work. You would respond not with a definition, but with a statement of benefits: “I help my clients learn to make more money with less effort.”
Instead of offering tax preparation, an accountant could invite you to “save money on taxes.” Instead of selling logo design, a graphic designer could suggest “get your business noticed.” Rather than proposing a company retreat, a trainer could promise “improved teamwork and cooperation.”
Whenever possible, market benefits your clients can place a dollar value on. You’re asking them to write you a check, so if they can’t see a monetary benefit, they are much less likely to do it. In a corporate environment, talk about improved productivity or employee retention. With individuals, describe the benefits of a healthier lifestyle or better relationships. People need to see your service as the answer to an essential need they have. If you allow it to be something that’s just nice to have, you will either limit your market to clients with a budget for luxuries, or you’ll limit your rate to only what people will pay for something that’s nice but they don’t really need.
HELP IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK
One of the most overlooked secrets to successful marketing is getting a hand from the people you already know. If you’re new, maybe you are waiting to become more successful before telling more people about your business. Or perhaps you have made up a rule that your personal life is supposed to be separate from your business. But the truth is that the people who already know you are likely to be the best contributors to your success.
5. Ask the people you already know for help.
If you always remember to tell everyone you know what you are doing and ask for their help, that one simple habit may bring you all the clients you need. Go through your address book, checkbook, holiday card list, club roster, and alumni directory, and count up how many people you know that aren’t yet aware of your business. Begin reaching out to those people with cards, letters, e-mails, or phone calls and let them know about what you do.
Instead of just asking for client referrals, treat these people as part of your network. Remember that networking is creating a pool of contacts from which you can draw clients, referrals, resources, ideas, and information. You can expand your network by asking the people you know who they know and contacting the people they refer you to.
In my earlier example of a niche serving business owners and self-employed professionals, I suggested getting to know accountants, small business attorneys, etc., as a way to become better connected in that niche. What if you were to ask your friends, family, colleagues, and all the people you do business with who their accountant is? Then get to know all those accountants. This is networking within your niche.
Always look for how you can make a relationship reciprocal. With other businesspeople, send them referrals whenever you can. If you have always referred people to your own accountant, instead give them three names and ask them to call all three before deciding. If you don’t know what the other person might need, ask them, “What can I do for you?” Get a network of people out there working for you so you don’t have to work so hard.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
I hope you have found the ideas in this report helpful. If you don’t yet own a copy of my book GET CLIENTS NOW!, I’d like to invite you to purchase it at http://amazon.com and sign up for Donna Payne’s Get Clients NOW! Seminar scheduled for September 1, 2009. REGISTER HERE.