It’s harder than ever for a self-employed professional to land clients unless you appear credible. Once upon a time, you could get clients based on not much more than a business card, decent clothes, and your ability to present yourself well in a conversation.
Now what happens is that prospective clients check you out online before they decide to do business with you. Even when prospects are referred to you by someone they trust, they will typically visit your website, search online for your name, or look for you on social media. If what they learn doesn’t shout “credibility” to them, you’ll have a tough time getting their business.
I recently ran across a 2017 study by FreshBooks Cloud Accounting asking 1,700 self-employed professionals, independent professionals, and small business owners what they found to be the most effective marketing strategies. All the participants had fewer than 10 employees, and 77% of them were solopreneurs, making this group a close match to the readers of this blog.
I was pleased to see how closely their answers aligned with the list of Effective Marketing Strategies in Get Clients Now! and the advice Kris Carey and I give our clients, students, and readers. Here’s what these self-employed professionals named as “highly effective” marketing strategies:
One of my coaching clients complained, “I’m really good at what I do. I shouldn’t have to market myself.” In fact, he is quite good at his profession, but the problem is that not enough prospective clients know about him. Like many professionals, he is reluctant to talk about his capabilities and accomplishments. “It feels like bragging,” he says. “Doesn’t it make me seem unprofessional?”
If thoughts like these often cross your mind, ask yourself this — who are the biggest names in your profession? In your line of work, who might be considered unquestioned experts, those with maximum credibility? Now, how did you get to know about those people’s work?
I’ll bet you do great work with your clients. But if your clients are the only ones who know what you can do, you won’t stay in business. We all hope that satisfied clients will refer us to their friends and colleagues, but clients aren’t always your best source of referrals. So, we need to let more people know how terrific our work is.
There are many ways to let prospective clients know about your work, But for most self-employed professionals, there are only four categories that make sense: networking, speaking, writing, and media. These are the best avenues for people to become familiar with not only you, but with how your work creates tangible benefits.
Never underestimate the power of a thank you. Not long ago, I thanked someone for helping me solve a technical problem. She replied to my note of thanks by inviting me as a guest speaker for a group she chairs. I didn’t even know she chaired this group and I had never considered speaking there. This speaking opportunity would never have occurred if I hadn’t taken a moment to say thanks. It started me thinking about how often saying thank you turns into paying business.
Here in the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving week, when we often pause to reflect on our gratitude. So it’s an excellent time to consider seven ways of saying thank you that can bring you more clients.
For self-employed professionals, trying to use social media marketing without regularly producing good, original content is a waste of time and money. You’ll find plenty of social media “experts” trying to convince you that anyone can use social media to get clients, regardless of whether you have content of your own to share. But that’s simply not true.
The purpose of using social media marketing for consultants, coaches, and other service professionals is threefold: 1) stay visible, 2) build credibility, and 3) get prospective clients to feel as if they know, like, and trust you. Far too much of what you’ll hear about using social media relates to purpose #1, but simply staying visible to your desired audience is not enough. If it was, we’d all be getting business by simply running ads.