Yet, we actually do have control over who we work with: From how we present ourselves, to our offerings, and pricing.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like we have a sign out that says “Wanted: Any client who will help me pay the bills”?
It would never occur to me to go into a Hermes store or a Porsche showroom. It’s just not on my radar as a consumer. It’s nowhere near my price range, my lifestyle, my (perceived) needs, and I’m just not “that kind of customer”.
It’s the same for service providers. How we present ourselves is how we attract our clients. It’s simple, really. Our copy, our visuals, and pricing reflect what client we want to attract.
So many small businesses I come across, are not clear on who their clients are. Among many reasons, most are afraid of excluding (by accident) any lucrative client opportunity if they declare a niche.
Clock Wise fell prey to that as well when we changed our offerings from high-end corporate videos to focusing on affordable services and products for small businesses. We made that shift a few years ago, on the premise that “if we build it, they will come”.
We thought that we had to create new and innovative products and services and then see who would be “attracted” to them.
This has led us down a rabbit-hole of a massive marketing spree with meagre results. We were on a fishing expedition without fish.
If you go out and test the market without an iron-clad client profile your results will be as loosey-goosey as the approach you took to defining your client in the first place.
After the “any service-based small business” approach failed, we focused on a few verticals (which are niche audiences in the same profession, like financial advisors, coaches, realtors, etc.). The results were a tad better, this is to say, if this were a poll, we’d be within the margin of error.
On our current to-do list (at the very top of it in fact) is the creation of a client avatar that goes beyond anything we’ve done so far. We want to gain clarity on who we’re selling to so we can THEN create offerings and a marketing campaign that has a foundation.
Answering the question: Who is your client? Is the single most important thing you can do when starting or growing your business (and pretty much anything in between). So, get busy and don’t be afraid of leaving anyone off the table. I speak from experience.
To get the ball rolling I wanted to share some notes I took at the recent Digital Agency Expo 2019 (DAX19), a three-day conference here in New York where talk was all about prospects and clients.
Most sessions where about, how to get more clients, perfect clients, better-paying clients, nicer clients, high-ticket clients. There was a lot about where you find prospects, how to make them clients, and what to do with them once you’ve found them (that’s the easy part).
I took copious notes, then summarized the notes, and then picked the cherries (or whatever fruit floats your boat) from the notes.
Here’s what I found that I think could help you in your search for the perfect client:
1. Be clear on whom you want to work with (Mark Roberge)
Set expectations around a high-level client you would want to work with. And with high-level I’m not necessarily talking about buying power. Questions can be around:
- Is the client responsive?
- Do you enjoy working with them?
- Does their brand elevate your brand?
- Is there a value-exchange happening when you work together?
- What values do you share with your client?
All great questions! That the client can pay the bill is the lowest level of “client qualifier”, if a very important one. But the questions above help give you the mind-set of: ‘what clients make your work worth while?’
For me, I love working with mission-driven businesses. They mostly have smaller budgets, but I know I’m helping them share their story for a purpose greater than any one person and their bottom line. I can also share the work we do together with my community, which was not possible for instance, when I was working on pharma videos, because of non-disclosure agreements.
2. What you put in is what you attract (Mark Roberge)
Create all your marketing materials to reflect the client you want to work with. Write your copy (web-text, video scripts, social media feeds, etc.) using verbiage that will get the attention of your ideal client.
Copy example (courtesy Conscious Copy & Co.):
- We help mission-driven entrepreneurs grow their business
- We help influencers grow their platform
- We help agency owners scale their business
- We help thought leaders expand their impact
The statements above are all about helping “people grow their business” but will attract different prospects because of the way they’re worded. Different people will identify with each of the statements. There might be some overlap, but the point here is that, how you say what you have to say is really important.
3. Ask the right questions when talking to prospects
Conduct prospect interviews to define niche, services & products:
If you ask people what they “need”, they will tell you what they need: “I need a vacation”, or “I need more time in a day”. Not much you can do with that info, unless you’re a travel agency, or happen to have a time machine (if you do, please DM me).
But, if you ask: What are you struggling with right now? You might still get “need” answers, but they will be nuanced and give you more information to work with.
A good line of questioning is (courtesy of Jason Swenk):
- What are you struggling with right now, what is your biggest issue?
- What is the impact of that struggle/issue?
- How important is it to you and your business?
4. Best and worst client verticals: (courtesy of Vendasta)
Client churn is the rate at which clients leave you. Obviously the longer a client stays the better and the lower your client churn rate would be.
Best vertical to invest in, with lowest churn rate:
- Professional services
Worst vertical to invest in, with highest churn rate:
- Event services
I for one, am happy to see professional services on the best vertical list!
Answer the following 4 questions in the comment section and get a free 30-minute consultation with Nina:
- Who’s your target audience?
- How detailed are you with your client avatar?
- What have you learned in marketing to a specific niche?
- Have you done better targeting a horizontal or a vertical niche?