“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?”
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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