Ok, it’s time to get practical.
All the passion in the world doesn’t means squat if you got no clients, right?
This is probably the most daunting part of running a business. You have a skill set, a brand and a sturdy business model, now how’d ya get the thing running with some clients?
That’s what marketing is for.
[I can hear you sigh. Don’t sigh, it’s not as bad as you think]
Marketing is one of those words with a ton of scary connotations, but put simply, marketing = activities you do to generate awareness and reach more people.
Nothing more, nothing less.
What it doesn’t mean is doing a bunch of shit you hate or resent (or that makes you feel gross and depressed, which is the case for a lot of big-hearted people).
To feel good about marketing, you need to find the activities that suits YOU.
I guarantee there is a marketing move out there that you’d love — it’s only a matter of finding it.
HERE’RE 5 THAT WORKED FOR ME:
|Preface: no amount of marketing is going to work if your brand message, target audience or business model is all over the place. You need to get that in check first so people are CLEAR about what you offer, where you stand, and why you guys are a match made in heaven ready to run off into the proverbial sunset (I can help). Get that sorted then dive into marketing. Okay, without further adieu, tip one:|
1. Networking, baby.
I’m talking old school face-to-face connections. I know, I know. Before you’re all like “I’m an introvert” or “networking creeps me out; there too many puffed-out chests and peacocking” STOP, WAIT A MINUTE AND HEAR ME OUT.
I admit, some networking events are cringy. It’s like folks go from human to cyborg in a few desperate handshakes. That’s why you need to find a group that’s right for you. Search local meet ups and communities, check out their style, values and tone and see what feels good. (It’s all about them feels, amiright?)
Some are focused on sales and referrals, others common interests (like creative meet ups), or personal development, etc.
Once you find a likeminded community, contribute to it. Don’t go to a few events and be like “oh well, it hasn’t worked.”
Yeah, no shit, Sherlock, what do you expect? (said with nothing but love).
As I heard at a recent networking event: “You can’t ask someone to marry you on the first date and marketing is similar.”
You must CONTRIBUTE to the community to see results. Volunteer, turn up, and participate.
I’m a member of the Athena Network SG community and a fellow member recently commented “how well” I do. It’s not a fluke. It’s because I put in time. I reach out to people and create relationships. I offer value and don’t expect anything in return.
And you know what happens? People become familiar with me and my profile grows. I build meaningful relationships with people who then feel comfortable enough to refer me. Why? Because I built trust.
The KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor works with networking as much as it does on your website.
If you’ve never heard of the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor here’s a snapshot:
People need to know you (you need to make yourself visible instead of lurking in the shadows), they need to LIKE you (you need to reveal who you are so they can actually get to know you) and they need to TRUST you (you need to offer value and show you’re capable of delivering what you say you can).
The only way to see results with networking is to commit to it.
In short: Find a community that feels good and that you enjoy going to, then make it a practice to turn up and contribute. Offer support and build relationships. If you don’t see a difference in your business, it likely means something else is off (check out your positioning, offerings, target audience or how you communicate). Trust me, networking works.
If you’re in Singapore, here are a few entrepreneurial communities you can consider:
Not to mention events and meet ups at co-working spaces like
I plan to hold some gatherings for big-hearted entrepreneurs in the new year, so subscribe to hear about those.
2. Blogging, of course.
I’m gonna be honest: this isn’t for everyone. There are experts who say blogging is an unavoidable necessity for business growth, but I say screw it. If you hate it and suck at writing, find something else that works for you. It’s never going to work if all you feel is a wave of negativity every time you sit to blog.
HOWEVER, (A BIG, MASSIVE HOWEVER), if you’re not blogging because of lack of direction, time or strategy, it’s time to get it together, yo. You’re missing out on one of the best ways to attract clients.
Blogging hands-down is the best thing I’ve done for my business (well, blogging + networking).
Also known as “inbound marketing”, blogging is a way to make potential clients come to you. Amazing, right?
To make blogging work for your business it depends on a few key things:
How can blogging attract your dream clients? Write about things they’re interested in learning or reading about. Write about things that offer value while showcasing your expertise, values and beliefs.
If you help people along their “buyer’s journey”, which is to say, you offer content that will solve some of their problems, get them familiar with what you do, they can decide whether you are a good fit and whether you can help.
After reading one of your blogs and they’re like “damn, that was really useful and inspirational” you’re doing two things: building the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor AND helping them to decide whether you are someone they need to work with.
It’s a win-win — that’s what makes blogging so awesome.
While it’s possible to have minimalist website and still do business (I did for a few years before I invested in my current one), it’s more effective to have a website that’s designed with your dream client in mind. You’ll need an about, home, services, blog and contact pages as a minimum.
Contrived is a death sentence.
Let me say this again: contrived writing will kill your credibility.
Entrepreneurs hear blogging is important so they write an article. Great! The part that isn’t so great? When the article comes across as cliché. When that happens, people feel like you’ve wasted their time. And when that happens? They’re not coming back.
Don’t panic, it’s easily solved.
That thing called authenticity? Yeah, we all need to take a big ol’ sip of the authenticity Kool-Aid.
People want to see you and your take on things.
Nothing in life is truly original. Everything is a borrowed idea from borrowed idea. The trick is to evolve the borrowed idea and put your own spin on it.
What are your personal lessons? What’s your story and lens of looking at things? What can you add to the topic that hasn’t been said? Do that and people will respond.
3. Make it easy, package it up.
Many freelancers and entrepreneurs struggle with packaging their services. It stunts business and makes it bloody difficult for people to know how they can work with you.
The more clarity around what you offer, the easier it is for people say YES.
To make it super simple, I suggest creating an “entry level” offering that can lead into your bigger services — basically something that people can buy immediately at low cost that will address their immediate problems and give them an opportunity to see what it’s like working with you.
For example, I have two entry level services: a single brand clarity session where I audit their messaging and give them a report with recommendations and next steps + my brand storytelling workshop where they can find their story in a group coaching environment.
Both of these services provide tons of value that folks can purchase as a one-off — it’s also a way for them to see how we can work together on a bigger project.
What’s something people can immediately work with you on?
How much value can you pack in?
What will they learn and gain? Is it strong enough to stand alone as well as lead into your other activities?
Maybe you’re an IP lawyer. Potential clients may be hesitant to jump into a whole service or an hourly rate. What if you can offer a single consultancy session at a flat rate? Or if you’re a writer, maybe you can offer a bio or resume service before they commit to one of your bigger packages?
This also helps with networking — when people know a starting cost they feel safer making recommendations and taking a next step.
Once you’ve have an entry level service, offer it to your previous clients. Share it with your network and database and see who’s happy to take that first step. Review and tweak as needed.
4. Teach something.
By sharing everything you know, you’ll become well known.
As Nathan Barry said in his book Authority “you can continue creating cutting edge work and strive to be the best in your industry, but until you start teaching and sharing, your reach and influence will be limited”.
He goes on to say, if you have a skill that can help people develop or make money, you can build an audience and make a living with that skill.
What do you know that your dream client would like to learn more about? If you haven’t already, brainstorm the heck out of that question.
There are several ways you can teach, blogging being one option. You can also hold a free event, seminar or webinar. You can write a guide or book.
Something I recommend to all my clients is to create a talk that shares experience (story) and knowledge in their area of expertise (that people are hungry to learn about).
Once you have a talk outline that radiates with your personality and take on things, outreach to communities, companies and influencers to offer your talk at one of their events. (Hint: another reason networking is so valuable).
Public talks are a way to super charge your reach. To make sure you make the most of it, create a way where the audience can continue the conversation and get involved with what you do. Be present with people, show your passion and make a real emotional connection by leaving who you are on the dance floor, so to speak. When people get a real sense of who you are and what you’re good at and what you care about, you’ll be surprise at how many people would love to connect further.
Without getting too technical, you can set up a landing page for the people who attend the event. Or you can offer a free resource where those who are interested can download it and join your database (at which point you should have a strategy in place to maintain the relationship with them, but that’s a whole ‘nother post).
Teaching, doing a talk, etc. positions you as an authority and lets people know how you can help them. Offering your knowledge up is a key strategy to gain more clients.
5. Ask your peeps.
We’re keeping it simple today and what’s more simple than the referral ask?
Send an email to previous clients (who I’m assuming LOVED working with you), friends and family members.
Everything comes down to relationships and trust — so leverage the ones you already have.
Write a simple email about what you do, the type of clients you work with (paint a picture of your dream client) and straight up ask if there’s anyone they can introduce you to.
It can be as simple as saying:
“Hey Judy, it was amazing working with you and seeing how [your business] took off once we [xxxxx]. I thought about what you said about how much I helped you [xxxxxx], do you know anyone else who might need some help too? I would love to work with more people to [xxxxxx]. If you know anyone, please do introduce me!”
This works on so many levels.
They’ve already worked with you so have experienced all the love and expertise you bring. Just remind them what you’re looking for (the type of people and challenges they’re having) and ask. Sometimes people don’t think to make a connection until we outright ask.
Another simple ask:
“Hi Uncle [xxxx]
Wondering if you can help? As you know I’ve built a business helping people [xxxxxxx]. I’m really passionate about working with [xxxxxx] who [xxxxxxx] and struggle with [xxxxx]. All the clients I work with are [use a few adjectives to describe your dream client] do you know anyone who might need my help?”
We live in a referral culture where we look to other people’s recommendations to decide what to buy and who from.
That’s why “social proof” and social media are so powerful. Social endorsement is its own currency. When people recommend and vouch for you, the more likely people are to work with you.
Phew! I’ll leave it as that. I could have thrown in social media but I’ll save that for a future post.
I hope you find these tips helpful so you don’t feel too overwhelmed on the entrepreneurial journey (and if you do, you can always give me a shout).
Let me know how you get on with these tips!