by George Huang on May 1, 2010
Most service professionals name their biggest need as “More Clients!” Sometimes just a few more clients can make the difference between success and failure. Client attraction is the first of three essential elements to a sustainable service business:
- Attraction – methods to make your phone ring and email ping with inquiries about your service or product.
- Conversion – a system to filter through the prospects, identify the ones best-suited for your business, explore the mutual fit, and naturally lead well-matched prospects hire you.
- Retention – processes to effectively serve your clients, customers and patients and keep them happily using your products or services for as long as needed.
The first step cannot be neglected. You’ve got to ATTRACT qualified prospects before they can become clients! Without plenty of prospects, you’ll be attached to everyone hiring you. You’ll come across as needy and you’ll chase people away. Or you’ll settle for working with people who aren’t good matches or who can’t afford your rates.
If nobody’s coming in through the pipeline, the rest is moot. It doesn’t matter how effective your “introductory session” is, how high your “closing ratios” are, or how brilliant you are in delivering value to your clients. Without client attraction, you’re dead in the water.
In a “Marketing Demystified” webinar, I identified the eleven basic pathways to attracting clients. (And one of these ways gives you new options for the other ten, hence, twenty pathways.)
I’m not recommending you tackle all or even most of these strategies. On the contrary, marketing methods should be chosen carefully and strategically, based on your ideal clientele, intentions and budget, as well as your abilities and skills. Don’t view these pathways as a “checklist” of everything you should be doing, but rather an overview of possible options.
This is the art of generating referrals from colleagues and current or past clients, such that you are put in touch qualified prospects who contact you or want to hear from you.
Networking can have many goals, and finding prospects either among the people you network with or the people they know is a common one. Other goals may be to find a collaborator, joint venture partner, or service provider. And whatever your goals are, if you approach networking as a giver and not a “getter,” you’ll invariably find yourself on the receiving end.
Networking can be:
a) Formal, such as a weekly BNI or LeTip meeting, or a monthly eWomen or Chamber of Commerce meeting.
b) Informal, which is simply connecting with people and making connections with other people about ideas, resources, collaborations and guidance. This can happen planned or unplanned at a coffee shop, happy hour, or anywhere.
Writing is an effective attraction tool because it informs and educates potential prospects while leveraging time. Writing can include:
- White Papers
- Regular columns
Not a writer? No problem, you can hire one, or you can record yourself and have it transcribed.
Some common forms of speaking are:
- Presentations to professional or community groups
- Keynote speeches
- Special events
Such platforms can be
a) “By invitation” and promoted by others (paid and unpaid)
b) Joint ventures, or
5. Direct Outreach
There are two main pathways for direct outreach:
a) Outbound calling (cold-calling or telemarketing)
b) Direct mail, such as
- Dimensional mail
Established companies (perhaps a bank, chamber of commerce, or a networking group) may partner with your business by offering resources. They might foot a part of the bill or pay you. A sponsor also could provide food, venue or other needed items. Sponsors generally offer a service or product that is complimentary to yours, and wishing to gain exposure to the same audience.
7. Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances
In this strategy, complimentary business with similar target markets partner to expand their networks or sell products and services. Strategic Alliances may partner by offering referrals or information. Joint Ventures involve some risk of money, energy, or other resources, perhaps even the creation of a new business from scratch.
8. Publicity and Media Relations
A good PR strategy that relates your business to timely topic can get you and your product or service featured in:
- Radio outlets
Media Relations involves building relationships and connections with media such that they call you when they need commentary from an expert.
9. Special Events
This is marketing, building relationships, and obtaining leads through
- Trade shows
- Charity appearances
- Book signings
10. Paid Media
This is traditional paid advertising, such as ads on
- Print media
(This is often the last pathway I would recommend. For many busineses, it is not necessary or even desirable to spend money on paid advertising.)
11-20. Internet and Social Media
This eleventh strategy actually contains within it the other ten. For each of the above strategies, there are “internet specific” ways to carry these out.
11. There are online sites specifically geared to obtaining referrals for service industries, from carpenters to mortgage lenders. There are also other ways to gain referral leads online, such as mutual recommendations on blogs, testimonials on profiles and sites such as Yelp.
12. Network on Biznik, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, ning sites, chat rooms, google groups or professional online networks.
13. Write blogs, guest posts, ezines, online articles, an online column, e-course and auto-responders.
14. Speak on a YouTube video, internet radio show or a webinar.
15. Do direct outreach online, contacting people who have a history of buying what you offer.
16. Seek sponsorships for your website, blog, or online radio show.
17. Collaborate with a joint venture or strategic alliance partner, for instance, for an email campaign that expands your mailing list and promotes your product or service for a split of the proceeds.
18. Get publicity in online publications, radio shows, and other internet media, while building media relations.
19. Self-promote or participate in special events such online training events, blog carnivals, book lauches, auctions or fundraisers.
20. Utilize paid media such as google adwords or advertising in popular blogs or online publications.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now, just breathe… slooowwly.
And perhaps, you’re asking some questions, such as, “How do I determine which strategies are best for me?” “How do I combine strategies for maximum effectiveness?” or “Which pathways are most effective, and which ones will best target my ideal clients?”
Well, those are great questions… for another article, another day!