I’ll start doing some marketing once I have more clients.
Ever said that? (To yourself or to someone else?)
I know I did.
But here’s the truth.
Who was I kidding?
Somehow I thought that clients should come to me, because…oh I don’t know…just because they would.
Or, that my clients would come to me because of referrals.
After all, that’s how everyone else who did my kind of work said they got clients.
And I believed them…when what I really needed was better role models.
They weren’t making any money. They didn’t have a waiting list of clients. (Despite what they wanted me to believe.) How do I know that?
After a few years they skulked back to someone else’s payroll. Oh sure they had a great story about why they did so, but the reality is that they simply couldn’t make it on their own.
If you want really be in business for yourself, you’ve got to put on your big-boy pants. And first and foremost is to get over the idea that getting new business isn’t going to be free.
And that it is going to be a lot harder than you (or I) thought it would.
Despite about what the other people said…
And despite the fact that most of us got our first piece of business pretty easily.
Getting new clients is hard work. (And when I say this I mean getting the RIGHT type of clients. Those that can pay your fees. Those that value what you do. Those that are fun to work with.)
So here’s what you need to do.
1) Referrals are great but if you rely on them as the single source for all your new business, the overwhelming odds are that you’ll either have to accept every person who expresses the least bit of interest in working with you, (which means you’ll work with a lot of jerks) OR you’ll subject yourself to the feast or famine business cycles which, unless you’re sitting on a large pile of cash, will eventually destroy you.
2) Budget money for marketing. If you don’t have any money you can budget for marketing, then the question becomes, “Why are you thinking about starting your own business?” Or as Kevin O’Leary would say, “What are you, stupid?” Go back to work for someone else until you’ve saved up enough money to launch your business. Entrepreneurship is for grownups not children.
3) Decide on a plan for attracting new clients. There are lots of options. I’m primarily an option for those that want to leverage internet and digital marketing. Obviously, I have a bias since I believe that everyone goes online first when they’re looking for goods or services, and developing a relationship using digital tools is the answer if you don’t have a lot of time for marketing…but, in all honesty it’s only one solution.
My wife Marian has built an extremely successful business as a hypnotherapist. She’s done it largely by having a table or booth at networking events and trade shows, and motivating people to sign up for a free consultation. From the free consultation, a large percentage convert into paying clients. It’s a very simple, but extremely effective process, and she’s been doing it for years. Of course what it requires is the willingness to consistently have a table or booth at these events.
Here’s how most people who use Marian’s model mess it up.
- They do it occasionally.
- They stand in back of their table to scared to make eye contact with people going by.
- If anyone does visit their table, they engage in a very lengthy conversation so at the end of the event they’ve only met just a small number of people.
- They don’t have any great offer to advance the relationship or move it to the next step. (Except some lame-ass put your card in the fishbowl for a drawing-type of thing.)
- They don’t follow up
- Or worse of all…they decide to save money and just attend the meeting to “network”, and discover the only people they’ve “networked” with are those who are just like them.
Pick one model, study it and implement it…consistently.
Don’t flit from thing to thing hoping that this new thing will be the magic bullet. There aren’t any magic bullets. There’s just lots of hard work and consistency.
One of the guys in my mastermind (who’s extremely successful) has a great technique. He’ll listen to any idea. If he likes it, he’ll write it on a card and put the card in his pocket. And then he goes back and finishes whatever he has started. Once that’s done, he pulls out the card, looks at the list, selects one from it and goes about implementing that.
As my friend and advisor Steve Harrison says, “It’s easy to get enthusiastic about something. The trick is staying enthusiastic.”
But, most importantly…Don’t delude yourself that you’ll put your marketing plan in place once you finally get some clients.
You’re just kidding yourself. Best case scenario, you’ll be busy with the client and won’t have time to implement it. Worse case scenario, you never really get any meaningful clients and you’ll go broke.
Happens to a lot of entrepreneurs. Actually, make that most business start-ups.
Almost happened to me (twice).
Don’t let it happen to you.
Mark Satterfield, Gentle Rain Marketing — Author , Marketing Consulting Expert, Lead Generation, Business Development, Marketing Strategy, Get More Clients, Increase Revenue — Click here for his Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube