If You Want To Get Clients, You Will Have To Talk To Them

“I’ve done everything I can think of to get clients,” a desperate self-employed professional wrote to me. “I launched a website, I had a brochure designed, I’ve been sending out mailings, and I’ve placed all sorts of ads in print and on the web. But no one is hiring me. What am I doing wrong?”

If You Want To Get Clients, You Will Have To Talk To Them

This unhappy professional has made a common mistake. He has fallen into the trap of believing that spending money on marketing materials, mailings, and ads will somehow produce clients without the direct involvement of the business owner. And he truly believes that this is “everything” he can do.

Perhaps professionals who make this mistake are trying to follow the model of big business. They hide behind a company name, expensive marketing literature, and a website. They spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on ads, directory listings, and trade show booths. Far too many self-employed professionals don’t even disclose their own name in their marketing, even when they are operating a one-person company!

But people don’t buy professional services from an anonymous company whose name they don’t even recognize; they buy them from either: 1) nationally recognized firms who have spent millions to gain name recognition, or 2) individual people they have learned to know, like, and trust. The more personal — or the more expensive — the service you offer is, the more likely this is to be true.

If you are a financial advisor, career counselor, or life coach, you are asking people to trust you with the most intimate areas of their lives. If you are a web designer, IT consultant, or corporate trainer, you are asking your clients to trust you enough to spend thousands of dollars with you. You don’t earn people’s trust by placing an ad or sending them a brochure.

Independent professionals and small professional services firms simply don’t have the resources to build name recognition and trust by way of high-priced, anonymous approaches like advertising and mass mailings. In fact, the approaches that work best for most professionals to get clients are less expensive — and more personal.

Here are the five best ways for professionals to get clients:

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Not Enough Clients? What’s In Your Way

What’s stopping you from getting all the clients you want? Do you know? The answer to this one question may be the key to making your marketing more successful.

Not Enough Clients? What's In Your Way

It would seem from the questions people ask me about marketing that everyone is trying to fix just one type of problem — how to fill their marketing pipeline with more new prospects.

“What else should I be doing to attract potential clients?” they ask. “Where else can I go to find people who might hire me?” or “How can I be more visible online so people will contact me?” or “Should I be finding prospects by cold calling, using Twitter, running ads, giving talks, writing articles…?”

All their questions — and it seems all their efforts — are aimed at finding ways to make contact with new people who might become clients. And every time they identify another activity that might help their pipeline get fuller, they want to add it to their ever-growing to-do list.

But is this really what’s stopping them from getting more clients? Is this what’s stopping you? If you are already marketing yourself in four or five different ways, will increasing that to seven or eight different ways produce better results? Or alternatively, if you drop everything you’re doing now, and start using four or five brand new marketing approaches, will that do the trick?

In my experience, it probably won’t. Continuing to try new and different approaches to fill your marketing pipeline will more often result in overwhelm, wasted effort, and failure than it will in new clients.

Instead of trying to fix your marketing by just seeking out more ways to meet people or collect names, email addresses and phone numbers, stop for a moment. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? In other words, what’s really getting in the way of your marketing success?

Listed below are the five most common marketing problems, and questions to ask yourself to see which ones might be yours. They’re presented in order of priority — problem #1 needs to be fixed before tackling problem #2, and so on. Consider whether making changes in one of these areas might be exactly the fix your marketing needs.

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Let Go To Grow Your Business

Entrepreneurs and consultants who fail to appropriately allocate their time and delegate tasks spend hours on activities and projects that drain their energy. They lose their creative edge; they can become frustrated and downright grouchy. Ultimately, by hanging on to tasks, people, and projects that no longer fit, they hinder their ability to grow, both personally and professionally.

Let Go To Grow Your Business

It’s interesting that though you may actually “know” you need to delegate (or eliminate) a task, or discontinue your affiliation with a person or organization, there’s often a significant gap between knowing and taking action. There’s always a reason, but it often seems to have little to do with reason. How do you know if you are holding on to things you need to eliminate or delegate?

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The Craigslist Method: You Can Build Big Things In Your Spare Time

It was 1993 when Craig decided to change careers. 17 years at IBM and it was time for a shakeup. Charles Schwab came calling from across the country in San Francisco.

The Craigslist Method: You Can Build Big Things In Your Spare Time

Craig was 40 and starting over. The job kept him busy, but he’d make time to for local programming events where he met others in his field and kept track of what was going on in the industry. Pretty soon, he was a regular at the meetups and thought, “Hey, there should be a way for everyone to keep up with what’s going on.”

As a software developer, Craig was a techie, so he started an email list where he and his friends could update each other about different events going on in town.

It was a hit and lots of people started using it. It was perfect for Craig—a fun side project that didn’t take too much work. He spent his days banging out work for Charles Schwab and his evenings managing “the list.”

After a while, people started posting about other things. When someone was moving, they’d notify everyone their apartment was available and maybe sell some of their furniture. They bought cars from each other and listed jobs for their employers.

When there got to be too many emails crowding everyone’s inboxes, Craig decided to make a change. He shut down the email list and moved everything to a website.

Picking the name for the URL was easy—Craigslist. And, as a fun and rewarding side project, he kept working his day job for three more years before thinking, “Hey, I could probably do this Craigslist thing full-time.”

Craigslist is one of my favorite side project turned megahit stories, but there are many more like it. More importantly, there are millions of successful businesses you’ve never heard of that were built in someone’s spare time.

If you’ve ever had a big idea and thought, “There’s no way I can make time for it,” there are a lot of real-life stories that say, “Yes, you can.”

You can build big things in your spare time. Here’s how to do it.

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The Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Toynbee

Following your passion can be a tough thing. But figuring out what that passion is can be even more elusive.

I’m lucky — I’ve found my passion, and I’m living it. I can testify that it’s the most wonderful thing, to be able to make a living doing what you love.

And so, in this little guide, I’d like to help you get started figuring out what you’d love doing. This turns out to be one of the most common problems of many readers — including many who recently responded to me on Twitter.

This will be the thing that will get you motivated to get out of bed in the morning, to cry out, “I’m alive! I’m feeling this, baby!”. And to scare your family members or anyone who happens to be in yelling distance as you do this.

This guide won’t be comprehensive, and it won’t find your passion for you. But it will help you in your journey to find it.

Here’s how.

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