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5 Critical Actions That Will Help You Attract Clients and Opportunities

Building a consulting, coaching, or other business as an expert problem solver can be
isolating, frustrating, and depressing.

It feels like a never-ending process of trying to get noticed, inspire those who notice you to learn more, and then invite them to take the next step to work with you.

All of those things are very challenging for 4 big reasons.

  1. Getting attention is a challenge because there are so many distractions
  2. You have to figure out where those you want to reach are and where they’re most open to your message
  3. While you’re trying to educate and inspire them they’re also dealing with a lot of other issues that may or may not be more important than the problem you solve.
  4. People will choose to work with people who they believe are experts. One of the things that impacts our perception of someone else as an expert is we see them more and hear more about them then we do others. This is part of building a brand for yourself and your business.

You can’t change that.

But what you can do is embrace 5 actions that will have a  big impact on growing your business and attracting more potential clients and opportunities…

  1. Get crystal clear on your message including the problem you solve, the impact of that problem, and the outcome you deliver. Best selling author Mike Michalowicz who wrote Toiletpaper Entrepreneur, the Pumpkin Plan, Profit First, and Surge does this in the form of what he calls a Rally Cry. (Yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect but it’s what HE calls it.) This is like a cross between a mission and a tagline. His cry is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. When you see your work as the mission it really is it can help you stay focused and inspired.
  2. Narrow your focus. As counter-intuitive as it is, narrowing your focus is a great way to make it easier to get noticed because it’s like you gave yourself permission to be the expert. It’s easier to  can be seen as the go-to person to the specific audience that has that specific problem. It gives you permission to ignore things that aren’t in that focus. I call this “a slice of a slice”. The more crowded the market the more you have to specialize. There’s one specific audience you want to talk to. They’re the ones who will recognize you as the expert you are because they relate to your background and achievements. They recognize and value your knowledege, skills, abilities, and experience.
  3. Put yourself out there in a big way and do it consistently. This is where the conflict between our needs and wants comes in. There’s a saying that you’ve got to fail forward fast. Those of us who are corporate escapees can have a real block around this and for those of us who are recovering perfectionists it’s even worse. In corporate life I’ll bet you saw people who made mistakes and got punished for them. They got chewed out. Their reputation was damaged. They may have gotten demoted. Some got fired. So it can be terrifying to put yourself out there in a big way because you’re emotionally scarred after seeing or experiencing that. Corporate life didn’t really set us up for success as independent professionals and entrepreneurs. So you’ve got to reconcile these emotions and it requires detaching from the outcome. It also requires developing the self-love and faith in yourself so your self-esteem isn’t at risk when you make an offer that no one takes you up on or you present a proposal and get told no.There’s any number of strategies you can apply and tactics you can accomplish to put yourself out there and attract clients. But they have to be done in a consistent manner. The fact that you put up a blog post and it didn’t get any traffic or that you put up a video and no one came to see it live doesn’t mean it’s not working. We cognitively know it will take more effort than that but we’re still disappointed when it doesn’t work. We want to be that overnight success that others seem to be. But in reality it takes effort. And it takes changing the effort you’re expending. You don’t need to take huge action but instead take small actions, moving forward, and you’ll make that next big leap.
  4. Find a supportive community and participate in it. Going out on your own is a courageous move. But at the same time it’s incredibly isolating since most of the people you know probably can’t relate to you now. But as a social animal, you do need to find supportive peers who can encourage you, cheer you, and gently push you while sharing their knowledge and feedback with you.
  5. Take action. There’s a great image I saw on Facebook designed by Sylvia Duckworth. It’s called the Iceberg Illusion. It shows the tip of the iceberg that’s above the water and that’s labeled “success” Then it shows the giant piece of the iceberg and all of the effort that’s going on below the surface that people don’t see.  Do something. Everyday do small actions that move your toward your ultimate goal. And never give up.

So your reflection exercise for today is to think about what you’re doing to get known and be seen along with the emotions that’s bringing up and how you’re managing them.

And your action step is to make a list of all of the potential actions you could take to attract potential clients. Then identify what you’re not willing to do and what you are willing to do.  Once you’ve got a handle on what you’re not willing to do you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re willing to accept that your movement may take more time than you want it to.

Look at your calendar and plan to do at least one thing to attract potential clients every day. You want to eventually aim for doing at least 5 things every day that will make you more visible and raise your Know-Like-Trust Quotient with those you’d like to connect with — whether they’re potential clients, potential referral partners, or potential collaboration partners.

 

 

The “Where to Start” Advice Every Guru Gives That’s Dead Wrong (and what to do instead)

red_tulips_white_tulipEvery guru says to start at the same point – identify your Ideal Client. They tell you that’s the most important thing and that without clarity on that you’ll struggle.

I think they’re dead wrong when they’re talking to service professionals – coaches, consultants, healers, and licensed professionals – like us.

You started your practice because you…

  • Have skills you love to use and want to spend all your time using them
  • Have a passion for the work you do, for the outcome you deliver – whether it’s for helping others manage stress, grow their business, write better books, or something else. You want to help others do, be, and have more than they have now.
  • Feel called to a mission. I’ve asked service providers why they do what they do and many feel drawn to solve a problem or make an impact in some way. They almost can’t explain why they do it; they just know they have to.

There’s some internal knowing that this is the work you were meant to do. Service professionals are led by the service they want to deliver.

That’s what drives you — making a difference…serving others…through the skills you have.

So when the gurus start preaching that your first step is to focus on an Ideal Client or target market you struggle to figure out who that is or should be for you.

This can leave you feeling like you’re stupid because you can’t figure out something that they say is basic.

But they’ve got it backwards. At least when it comes to service professionals like coaches, consultants, or healers.

What You Need to Do Before Worrying About Who Your Ideal Client Is

Before we can possibly know our Ideal Client, we need to be clear on our Big Idea.

Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy is credited with coining the phrase, “Big Idea”. And his effectiveness with using it was a good part of what made him legendary.

Having a Big Idea means you’ve got a unique approach to a problem. It’s your unique solution built on your unique slant on a specific problem.

So expressing a Big Idea means communicating…

  • The problem you solve
  • Your Point of View about the problem you solve
  • The outcome or transformation you provide

When you’re trying to grow a business, have bills to pay, and empty cupboards to fill it can make you feel a bit panicky to  focus on what you think of as a small segment of  the population.

You’re likely nervous about turning people down or saying you only with a specific type of person or that you only solve a specific type of problem.

You can also feel really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) about putting yourself out there.

Benefits of Getting Clear About Your Big Idea

But talking about your Big Idea…talking about the problem that needs to be solved and why people struggle to solve it…is a lot easier. It put’s the attention on the problem, not on you.

And when you deeply understand the problem you solve and the outcome you provide, better than anyone else, then you can start to see who has that problem and who wants the outcome you offer.

When you’re clear about your Big Idea and stay on message talking about issues that relate to  it then you’re going to attract people who have that problem you solve and who want the solution you provide in the way you provide it.

You become the go-to person for your particular audience.

The Foundation of Your Big Idea

The most important element that forms the foundation of your Big Idea is your Point of View (POV).

Your POV is the set of beliefs you have about the work you do and the problem you solve. It’s your approach and philosophy about solving the problem.

It informs everything you do and guides the way you do it.

Here’s a quick example.

On a video call, my friends who are livestreaming experts they told me I needed to check out a new livestream service that’s all the rage.

But a friend of mine in an English speaking country outside of the US posted on Facebook a negative experience he had with this company.

My friend’s assessment was the livestreaming company’s rep had no idea how to talk to a professional and acted like a child.

What my friend described certainly sounded like very poor service. Since he was dealing with a manager of this new company, it sounds like they either don’t know how to hire good people or they’re developing a culture with a chip on its shoulder — one that doesn’t value clients.

So my reaction when my friends suggested I have this company on the show was very strong.

No.

I don’t want to help bad companies get attention and attract business when they obviously don’t put the effort into hiring and / or training top notch people. Or they care so little about their staff that they create an environment that causes these people to then act out.

Can you hear my values in there? The importance I place on staffing, training, and organizational development?

That forms the foundation of my POV about service, culture, and staffing.

Your beliefs, values, and philosophy become very obvious when something tests them.

So when you hear some guru go on about how the first thing you need to do is identify a target market… and you struggle to identify one…it’s easy to feel like you’re stupid. But you’re not.

They just assume you’re clear on your Big Idea. That you’re clear on your core message, the problem you solve, and the outcome you deliver.

But it’s very likely that you’re not.

That’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you’ve been focusing too hard on getting clients.

But you can’t get as many clients — or Ideal Clients — until you’re clear on your core message.

You do need a clear audience to communicate with, and the more you know about them the easier it is to attract them.

But you can’t attract them if you don’t understand their problem and your solution and why your solution is right for them.

You’ll struggle to attract them if you don’t have a Big Idea and if you don’t have a clear message delivered consistently across different platforms.

So if you’ve been sweating to figure out an ideal client, or avatar, or brand persona, or whatever is the buzz phrase of the moment, I’m giving you permission to stop worrying about that right now.

Instead, focus on gaining crystal clarity on your Big Idea.

Focus on being clear about the problem you solve, the solution you provide, the POV you have, and packaging all that into your Big Idea so people understand you and what you’re all about.

Then get your message out powerfully — in a way that reaches and resonates with your ideal client so she takes the next step to learn more about you and the solution you provide.

Then as you see who is naturally attracted to you, you can decide how to adjust your message in order to attract more of those people who you truly want to work with and less of those who aren’t a perfect fit.

Your Ideal Client or Avatar will make itself known to you because that’s who resonates with your message.

7 Types of Proof Elements and How They Help Clients Decide to Buy

Buying is full of risk. There are lots of reasons your Prime Suspects don’t buy from you but they all boil down to fear.

They’re afraid you won’t deliver….afraid your solution will make things worse and not better…afraid the return on investment they want won’t happen….

They’re also likely to be afraid of change, or of what you’re asking them to face (really important for those selling anything to do with prevention, health, finances, etc).

And they’re afraid your solution won’t work for them.

So when you’re talking to a Prime Suspect or they’re reviewing your website, a social profile, or reviewing collateral material (a brochure, a proposal, etc.) what they’re really looking for is proof.

They want proof you can deliver as promise and that your solution will work for them.

This video shares the 7 proof elements you can use to market and sell your offerings. You don’t necessarily need all 7 but the more powerful your proof is the easier buyers will be able to say yes to working with you.

 

10 Tips to Make Sure You Have the Right Pics for Marketing Your Business

girl_taking_pictures_facing_inI was on Skype with my colleague in an online mastermind group last night. We’ll call her Sandi (since that’s her name). She was looking for feedback on book covers for a client project.

Sandi had been working on this project for awhile and the cover had gone through several iterations.

The cover has several problems (which I’ll save for a different post) but the biggest one was the author’s photo that was going to be used on the front.

It’s not right for the cover, but the author loves it.

I’m going to resist the temptation to go off on a tangent about clients who fall in love with things that won’t help them. That’s another issue all on its own.

I ran into a similar problem when I worked for a brand design firm.

One of our biggest and one of my favorite clients to write for was a growing regional insurance agency.

The CEO was the son of the founder and it was a great example of a successful family-owned business.

When we landed the account, my boss (who owned the firm), spent an afternoon taking pictures of the CEO (Tom) for the series of ads we’d be creating for the agency.

Tom was truly the face of the brand and felt it was important that HE be the one delivering his messages.

He was right.

He’s photogenic, comfortable in front of the camera, and even comfortable filming a commercial.

The problem though was sometimes I’d be writing ad for copy that was talking about pretty somber stuff –being protected in case of an emergency or even a disaster.

But the pictures my boss took all had Tom sporting a big toothy grin.

My boss refused to ask Tom to pose for more pictures because he didn’t want to admit he’d missed something in the original photo shoot, nor did he want to have any additional expenses on the account.

This really cramped my writing style and sometimes would take me twice as long to create an ad because I had to have the copy match that face.

I did the job, and Tom was so happy with the ads he would refer to me as his “voice” because he said I came up with what he would genuinely say.

If you’re the face of your business then you’ll need to accept that fact means you need to have your picture taken fairly often for your various marketing and sales materials. So here are some simple tips to help you use your money wisely.

  1. Work with a professional photographer. My boss was pretty good but by no means a professional. Hire someone who has done shots for marketing and advertising because they’ll know you need various looks (serious, happy, etc.).
  2. Think about the emotions you’re trying to convey and to arouse in your Prime Suspects. I don’t know about you but I want a serious guy in charge of my insurance. When I had headshots done I picked two and asked my newsletter readers which one they liked. They were VERY vocal and basically told me one they hated because it was too serious and business like. The other one they LOVED because they felt it captured the personality they see when I teach live. And that’s the one I’ve used on my site online and off for about 4 years (and they’re time for an update).
  3. Get shots from various angles. You want to be able to place the picture looking into the copy wherever it is. For example, I always have my picture next to a note from me that’s part of my newsletter. My face is turned into the writing. It gives the subtle message that I’m in alignment with my message. (See how the girl is pointing the camera towards the copy? That’s what I mean. I could have used a shot with the girl pointing the camera straight at you. But having her facing the camera away from the copy would not be good.)
  4. Get a full body shot. I think of this as a power shot. There’s something confident and compelling about a person standing up.
  5. Get some pictures sitting down. Lean into the shot to create a feeling of movement and subtly look one direction and to the other. I think most of us are more photogenic when we’re looking slight on an angle.
  6. Take several changes of clothing to the shoot. If your image is conservative (like your clients expect you to be in a suit) then take at least more than one blazer with you. You never know how the lighting might impact the colors and textures. And if you’ve got a slightly laid back reputation then you might want to have some shots that are business casual and some that are more business traditional for you and your clients.
  7. Get the pictures taken against a white background. That gives you the most flexibility.
  8. Consult with an image consultant on wardrobe, makeup, jewelry and colors. It’s money well spent to have a makeup professional do your makeup before the shoot. Guys, that goes for you too. A little touch of concealer too minimize shadows around your eyes especially helps make you look brighter (visually, not mentally)
  9. Get new pictures done if you need them. Don’t be like my boss and force me to use happy pictures when I needed neutral emotion. If what you’ve got doesn’t send the message you want then get them done again.
  10. Loosen up before the shoot. Play your favorite music, bring a supportive friend along…do what you need to in order to be relaxed and present the real you. These are marketing and sales tools afterall, not your junior high school class picture. You’re smart and professional and that’s what you’re trying to convey.

If you haven’t updated your pictures in a while then it’s time to plan for that and start budgeting for pictures whenever you’re launching something new or changing your messaging.

 

The secret to powerful messaging that’s not salesy

If you’re a consultant, coach, licensed service professional or other expert who’s stock in trade is their expertise, one issue you may struggle with is getting your message out in a powerful way that doesn’t come across as salesy.

If you’re a corporate escapee like me, you were probably an expert at talking about the problems your employer’s customers had. But once out on your own, you’ve probably struggled to create a message that consistently resonates with the mind and heart of your ideal clients (who I refer to as your Prime Suspects).

One big element of that problem is deeply understanding the problem your Suspects have and communicating in a way that shows you GET it. This video talks about that.