I’ve called this article attracting the right clients to your business.
It’s inspired by Erika Napolentano speaking at the Content Marketing Academy Live17 conference (CMALive17) in June.
This article focuses on the key messages I took from Erikas’ talk. Whilst it looks at attracting the right clients to your business (clients equally mean customers here), I guess it’s a confidence building piece together with a focus on personal development.
Attracting the Right Clients to your Business
Why did you start your own business?
Work life balance? Saw a niche in the market? Fed up with the corporate world or bureaucracy? Made redundant and an opportunity presented itself?
Whatever the reason, you need clients. There comes a time when we need to make money too.
Often when I’m networking, I find myself in conversations where we end up talking about when we finally managed to focus on our niche or the clients we really want. At first our focus had been to make money, being a success! Success equalled making money.
You see that common theme is panic. If I’m going to do this I need to make it work. I need clients and I need to make money. I don’t want to be seen to be a failed business person. I won’t go to interviews saying I couldn’t make a go of it! So what do we do? In Erikas’ words:
We censor ourselves out of the relationships that suit us best.
Her advice to us:
Stop hunting elephants!
By this she means, stop going after the trophy jobs rather than the jobs we really want.
One of the perks of starting a business is doing the things you really love, have a passion for and, because of that, are bloody brilliant at!
So rather than starting with “How can I make money quickly?” Or “Who will buy my stuff first?” Ask yourself:
What’s my passion and what am I bloody brilliant at?
Incidentally this can also work for job hunting. Quite often we get so desperate to leave an organisation or panic if we’re unemployed that we jump to the first organisation who will take us. Use those two questions in a job search too. They help you form your target organisation and role, as well as helping you sell your passion and what you’re great at.
Once you’ve found your passion and strengths, focus on who you’d like to work with. Do you like big organisations, charities, start-ups…. ? Whose language do you speak?
All sound daunting? Check out our Going It Alone programme. As a start-up you can learn all this and find your routes to market. If as a business you’re connecting with this article, you can join us too. Test us via our Incite Hours.
We love to help business to attract the right clients by finding their voice, and that’s exactly it, finding the courage to ditch what you think you should be saying or what those you network are saying.
Find your own voice.
The key is to change our mindset from “hire me, buy my stuff”, to using the time developing ourselves, the offer, and the identifying right client group. If you think about it, when starting a new job we don’t expect to know everything on day one, week one or within the first month. It takes time. Our mindset changes as the business idea evolves and develops:
The above cycle looks at developing a business and the support mechanisms. Put money aside to invest in good start-up coaching and personal mentoring.
Owning your voice
Your voice, personal brand, approach to your work, defines you. It’s your USP – what makes you. It distinguishes you from the rest. You might make candles, lots of people do, but you’ll not provide your service in the same way as any other candle maker.
The LaunchPad Academy CIC provide employability and enterprise services, but we can guarantee we don’t do it anything like our competitors. We pride ourselves on common sense and telling it like it is. We also come at it from a business and employers perspective. We know what employers want.
Hopefully that comes across in everything we put out! We hope you get that we’re cheering you on and helping you understand what employers need. We want all our clients to standout!
This is the brave part. Communicating as you, being human and showing compassion.
We’ve experienced and done everything in this article. That’s how we can write about it. We know it’s shit struggling to get clients as a start-up, or waiting for that first job offer. We’re human too! You can’t learn to ride a bike without falling off a few times!
- fear the competition, learn with them, collaborate, and share experiences;
- go for their clients they probably won’t suit your style;
- try to replicate their product, the original is always best.
- share knowledge and experience;
- show vulnerability – ask questions;
- the things you’re passionate about for the people who connect with you.
And … To do those things you need to expose yourself. As Erika says:
Being vulnerable allows you to open up your arms to be receptive.
Being human allows you to show compassion and Erika tells us, together compassion and vulnerability gives your brand the heart.
In organisations we call the heart culture. People are attracted to work for brands they respect, share their values, or where they feel they fit. This is the same principle for drawing people to us – attracting new clients. What we put out makes that connection with others.
So be brave. Communicate to differentiate. Some will love you others may hate you if you’re really standing out. That’s fine because you’ll get the people you really want to work with. People will connect with the way you do things if you write in your own voice.
Take Jo and I.
Jo is solutions focused. But most importantly she has a common sense approach. She’ll give you solutions that are business focused. If you’re looking for someone who’ll give you HR and Statute jargon, you don’t want to work with her. That radiates when you meet Jo and in everything she puts out.
I (Beverly) deliver people and organisation development. The heart of my business is to facilitate progress, whether that’s in people or organisations. I deliver creatively and I can be quirky. My passion and focus is on behaviour, communication and culture. I love matching people to organisation culture and developing trust and authentic relationship within teams. I work to get the culture and values so strong that they attract the right people so that the organisations I work with don’t hold hostage the people that don’t want to be there, or attract square pegs for round holes. You won’t get traditional performance management and leadership courses from me, and hopefully that comes across in me and what I put out.
Another Great Example of Attracting the Right Clients to Your Business
A great example of this is Cara MacKay or Natty Shed Girl. She caused controversy last year on LinkedIn but raised £200,000 of pre-sales in a new line of sheds. Cara swears, she says it as it is, and she doesn’t do discounts. She puts that out clearly and people love or hate her. Take a look at the website the sheds are amazing. I recommended her to a coworker recently looking for a home office for the garden. As part of the recommendation, I said the prices are as stated, they don’t do discounts. You see, I respect that. Cara runs a family business, she sees the expertise and quality going into the sheds and she’s clear in her communication why she doesn’t do discounts. Likewise, if you know that and still push for a discount, she’ll tell you straight. Personally, I like that approach, others may not. She’s differentiating herself as a business – attracting the right people to her business.
Straight talking, being you, human, and differentiating yourself all help attract the right clients. That needs to continue in the services you provide. People want to see the connection between you and how your business is delivered. Honesty with a client can be risky, just like being brave in your communication. Provide what is right for the client, you’re the expert. Sometimes what they think they want is not necessarily what they do want!
Some time ago I was working with a fairly new client, who had a Director who was clearly sabotaging the work of the CEO. The CEO valued the Directors experience and had been lulled into thinking the Director was key in the organisations future. I could have delivered what I needed to do, what the client wanted, or challenge the CEOs thinking and risk being kicked out. I did the latter and saw them through a major restructure.
As Erika says:
Be the ass hole that’s honest with clients, don’t just go along with the client and then be the consultant that the next consultant says you were an ass hole for letting them make the mistake.
Find your passion, tell people what you’re bloody brilliant at and what matters to you abut your business.
Own your voice – be confident – be brave. You are the heart of your business so don’t fear competition or compare yourself.
If you’re struggling to find your niche give our Incite Hour a go. Join us for a Tassimo (Tea, coffee or chocolate) and we’ll rattle and shake your thinking!