If you’re like most business owners, you’ll want more clients. More clients mean more revenue, and more revenue means more profit. That means you spend a lot of time planning how to get more people through your doors.
You might even hire a business consultant to help you.
Most business consultants will tell you that in order to get more clients—and achieve more success—you need to double-down on your marketing. You need new and innovative marketing techniques, they will tell you, to keep up with technology and stay “ahead of the curve.”
But that’s a big, BIG mistake.
My clients, all business owners, tell me this approach frequently frustrates them: No matter how much they increase their marketing efforts and marketing spending, they don’t see a noticeable increase in new customers.
The Truth About Marketing
That’s because marketing doesn’t get you clients. So it’s not the way I teach things.
Marketing simply creates awareness for who you are and what you offer the world. Marketing makes noise and says “look at me.” Marketing grabs people’s attention. Then it’s up to you to convert that attention from interested people into investments from happy customers.
Regardless of how much you invest in ads, copywriters, marketing agencies and expensive art directors, the clients won’t follow unless you’ve laid an important foundation I outline below.
So here’s a checklist for making your marketing work. It’s a series of steps to take before you even think about buying advertising, trying public speaking, blogging, broadcasting or papering the neighborhood with fliers.
1. Figure out who your customer is. Do this first, before anything else. This process doesn’t involve surveying your competitors’ clients or looking at what you’ve done in the past. Instead, it comes from inside you. What kind of people do you like to be around? Who energizes and inspires you? What values do they hold? Those are the people you’re looking to work with. Write down your nonnegotiable criteria for the core values and characteristics of your ideal client and then go looking for them inside your target market.
Your target market should be easy to identify: a group of people or companies that need or want what you have to offer. You can’t serve everybody all the time, so you’ll benefit from narrowing your target market by geographical or professional or economic criteria. And because you’ll be speaking to these people, selling to them and serving them, unconditionally, for as long as you’re in business, you need to know—quite literally—where to go to find them.
By focusing on those who are right for you, from a group of people who are more likely to respond to you, you’ll land client after beautiful client.
2. Be relevant. Every time you show up and talk to the people in your target market, you’ll focus on being relevant to them by speaking to their urgent needs and compelling desires. That means not talking about yourself, but talking about them and their problems and wishes.
Relevancy may be the most crucial component of your communications, including marketing messages. That’s because your prospects will always ask themselves, Is what this person saying right now addressed to me? If the answer is a firm yes, then you’ve got their attention and you can do something with it. If you’re not relevant, then they’ll ignore you, and your marketing will be for nothing.
Obviously, different groups of people have different needs and desires. If you’re selling services to active fighter pilots, they’re likely to have priorities vastly different from those of new college students. So be specific about whom you’re addressing and what they want to hear.
3. Show your superiority. Next up, make sure they fully understand why they should choose you over the next guy or gal. With thousands of daily demands on our attention, we’re going to be careful who we give it to.
Do you look trustworthy? Do you look like the kind of person that your clients want to be associated with? Do you invest in yourself—your clothes, your grooming, your education—so that the clients, in turn, can be confident investing in you? If not, get solid on that, stat.
You also need to be clear about what you stand for and why you stand for it. To back that up, you need strong credibility builders in place—so lose the perforated-edge business cards, the amateur “head shots” and the dated website. Let them know that you’re the category authority and the best in your field. Line up a ton of third-party endorsements.
Speak with power and confidence, which means practicing on trusted friends and family who will give you feedback so you become more polished. Own your brilliance. If you’re expressing even a modicum of doubt about why potential clients should work with you, then guess what? They won’t be convinced, either.
Then, when they’re confident that you’re here to serve them, and that you’re the best person for the job, it’s time to invite them into your sales cycle.
Ask them to make a series of incremental commitments to you that are proportionate to the amount of trust they have in you. Ask them to first invest their time by meeting you or attending one of your events. Then perhaps ask them for their contact information to keep the communication lines open.
Then ask them to invest in your offerings: perhaps buying small, perhaps big, but always in proportion to their needs and always in proportion to how much they trust you.
If you follow these steps before you do any marketing, then you’ll find that you get exponential returns on any marketing you end up doing… even if it’s mediocre.
Flashy marketing wins awards, not clients. Marketing serves your business—it doesn’t work the other way round. That means you’ve got to make your business attractive and solid before you start talking it up.
Don’t rush it. Don’t ask clients to buy the farm before the soil is fertile. Instead, build your homestead, identify the right potential buyers, and then show them enough so that the most qualified, most perfect clients raise their hands and say “choose me!”