Finding clients can be one of the hardest challenges for any business, and it’s certainly an issue for many small businesses. Here are a couple of approaches you can use to help you find those precious clients.
1. Do you know who your ideal client is?
Many small business owners fall into the trap of thinking that any client is a great client (so long as they pay their bills!) and that they should market their services to everyone. However, you will be more successful if you focus in on exactly who your service or product is perfect for. Let me share an anecdote to explain why this works:
A little while ago I met with an accountant who was keen to find more clients. I didn’t know anyone who was looking for an accountant, so nobody sprang to mind. Then I asked her “who is your ideal client?” She thought for a moment, and said “well, I’m fascinated by anything to do with books, so I’d love to work for a small publisher.”
By chance, last year I had a book published by a small publisher, so I now knew exactly who to introduce to my accountancy friend., which I duly did. They subsequently met and are discussing doing business together.
So get clear on that ideal client.
Grab a pen and paper (yes I know that’s old-fashioned but it works – use your smartphone or tablet if you must!) Create an image of your ideal client in words or drawing – their age, gender, and occupation. Give them a name and flesh out their attributes and their likes and dislikes. Think about where they shop, what they wear and how they spend their time.
Consider who they mix with and where you might find them. For example if you have a product that’s aimed at new mums, they might be in GP surgeries, clinics, at NCT meetings, at mum and baby groups. They might shop in ‘nearly new’ baby clothes shops, or in independent retailers of baby clothing and equipment.
Then think about how you can connect with them. In my ‘new mum’ example, you could give a talk to one of those groups, or put flyers out in the retailers, or advertise in one of the many free local magazines aimed at families (or contact the editor and offer to be interviewed about how you help new mums).
2. What pain do you relieve?
People buy products or services because they satisfy a want or need. At its most extreme this can be described as taking away pain for them. So what is the pain that you remove for your clients? For example:
• A friend of mine is a copywriter. She takes away the pain from those of us who need to communicate in writing with our customers, but who hate writing
• Another is an image consultant. She takes away the pain of having a full wardrobe, but never the right clothes to wear
• A third runs a cleaning business. She definitely takes away my pain of cleaning the house, a job I hate!
If you can articulate your offering as a solution to pain for someone, they are much more likely to buy it! This works even if you offer a luxury product or service. If you offer beauty treatments, for example – they take away the pain for the person who has no idea what to give their partner for their birthday!
And finally, do what you’re good at!
I’m not talking here about what your business offers – I’ll take it as read that you are good at making / sourcing the product or providing the service you offer.
No, I’m talking about playing to your strengths when it comes to connecting with the perfect client. If you are love networking, get out and do it! If you are happy to pick up the phone to promote your business, do it. If you can write great blogs or chatty newsletters, do it.
Find the way to communicate with current and future clients that works best for you, and spend most of your marketing time here. If there are other activities that need doing too, get someone else (who is great at them) to help.
We all achieve more when we play to our strengths.