The longer I do this work, the more I come to realize that we self-employed professionals can be our own worst enemies when it comes to getting clients. We know what we should be doing to market ourselves better, and then we don’t do it. Or we don’t know what’s the right thing to do, so we throw a dart and pick something randomly, or respond to the latest email we got, instead of considering our options and making a well-reasoned choice.
Or we make a valid choice, then second-guess ourselves, dropping one marketing strategy and picking up another, without putting enough effort into any one approach to produce results. Or we spend too much time talking to ourselves and not enough talking to prospective clients, worrying about why the last prospect never got back to us, whether the blog post we just wrote is good enough to publish, or if the latest version of our tag line finally gets across our message.
It’s easy to get caught up in how to find clients. And while picking marketing strategies that are right for you and your target market, and doing them consistently, is important (very important!), there’s another aspect to getting clients that’s not talked about as often.
Loving-up those you serve.
When you work with people you truly enjoy, some miraculous things happen:
* Your current clients feel your love and love you back.
* You’re energized by your work.
* You’re more attractive to potential clients.
* You become a client magnet.
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.
Let’s face it, many self-employed professionals treat self-promotion as a necessary evil. They know they have to do it, but they just don’t like it. Professionals often say, “I love my work, but I wish I didn’t have to keep finding clients.” They describe the process of marketing as distasteful, frustrating, intimidating, and just plain scary.
Take a look at your own beliefs about self-promotion. How do you feel about it? Is it something you accomplish without too much effort, or do you put it off at every opportunity? When you tell someone what you do and ask for that person’s business, is it easy for you, or do you find it difficult and unpleasant?
“Relationship marketing.” “Get business by word of mouth.” “People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.” You’ve heard these adages many times before. But what does it really mean to build relationships with people in order to sell them something?
Does it work to make personal connections with a hidden agenda? How do you go about creating relationships for marketing purposes without feeling sleazy? Here are seven tips for building marketing relationships you can feel good about.
1. Start with the best audience. When you choose the right target market for your business, relationship-building becomes an enjoyable process. Your ideal clients and referral sources are people you already enjoy spending time with.
Imagine that you went shopping to buy yourself a new shirt, and the salesperson offered you a garment three sizes too big, saying, “This is one of our most popular colors.” Or showed you a shirt in a child’s size, telling you, “This style is new this season.” You’d probably think the salesperson was crazy, right? And you certainly wouldn’t trust his or her judgement about what shirt might be right for you.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing goes on with marketing all the time. Without asking you a single question about your situation, an acquaintance describes the latest marketing idea they heard about, and urges you to try it. Or a workshop leader who knows nothing about your business explains the best way to market your services and recommends you adopt it. Or a consultant advises you to use a specific marketing approach with almost no understanding of your business.