How do you know if you are the right client for someone, and of course, if they are the right one to work with you?
It’s a similar question to “How do you know if you are marketing to the right prospects?”
Normally, that’s the question I’m discussing with a client, but here, it’s the question you should be asking of me. You want to know this because you should want to work with someone who is comfortable and experienced working with a business of any type, since most businesses can benefit from marketing methods used in other, unrelated industries.
But I’ve never sold cars
Never having sold cars doesn’t mean that I can’t work with a car dealer (too late, already do). Never having sold insurance or real estate doesn’t mean I can’t work with insurance and real estate sales teams (already do). All three types of businesses are very dependent on the success of their lead generation and sales process.
Oddly enough, so are the outdoor power equipment store, rental equipment shop and a spa – despite the fact that they do entirely different things. What’s important to look at is the tasks and strategy necessary to create success at these businesses.
When I work with a business, I’ve found that one of the easiest and – more importantly – most effective ways to find out the answer to this question is to have the owner describe his best (or ideal) client to me. Usually I have to work with them a bit to get the level of detail that I want, but it’s proven to be a great place to start.
My ideal client owns a retail store, sales & service organization, software company, professional practice, or service business. Typically they are family-owned (or only have 2-3 partners). They are usually not a franchise, and have 1 to 3 business locations.
You might group them like this:
- Retail (including online-only retailers): Pet shops, outdoor power equipment sales, restaurants, coffee shops, outdoor gear, fishing and hunting supplies, car dealers.
- Licensed Professional Practices: Dentists, engineers, chiropractors, attorneys, accountants, etc.
- General Service providers: Software companies, outdoor power equipment service, lawn/snowplow service, recruiters, caterers, insurance sales, graphic designers, programmers of business software & websites, home inspectors, car washes, financial planners, and tax preparers.
They all had one thing in common…
While each of my clients are typically very experienced in their market, and in some cases – are nationally-known in that market, their weakest area of expertise is the skills and processes necessary to consistently and repeatedly attract clients. That is, to explicitly take action on a regular basis to attract clients, rather than leaving it up to random chance.
It’s not that my clients aren’t smart. In fact, some of them are so smart it makes my hair hurt when we talk about some parts of their business. Instead, they simply lack a skill that is rarely taught, especially to highly-skilled, technically-oriented business owners. I can relate to this, because I used to be a technical person with no marketing or sales skills.
In many cases, clients come to me because a local franchise is starting to hurt them, usually because the franchise has what all franchises have – a marketing system for attracting and keeping clients.
Still, you might not know if you need my help, so I’ve put together a way to help you figure that out.
How many of these 26 comments make you think of yourself or your business?
- You own a small, independent retail or service business, or sell products and services for one, and compete with big box stores and/or franchises in your area.
- You own a small software company. You struggle to balance some combination of the tech work, support, marketing, hiring, the “administrivia”, much less the task of building ever-increasing value that your clients will repeatedly, gladly pay for.
- You’re deeply passionate about what you do. In fact, most of the people you meet in your business niche seem to know less about that business than you do, but most others seem to be more successful than you and that just doesn’t make sense.
- You’ve spent a pile of hard-earned dollars on advertising, and came away with unpredictable or disappointing results.
- You’re not a whiner, but have gotten to the point where you almost feel like a “victim” of the ad media salespeople you’ve done business with.
- You’ve been promised great results over and over again by your advertising rep, but they never materialize. Sometimes an ad will work, but the next time you run it, it doesn’t and you aren’t sure why.
- You’re not sure how well your advertising works. You might know that half of your advertising is working, but you aren’t sure which half.
- You’ve struggled to differentiate your business from others in your market and you still have a hard time standing out from the clutter of ads that bury your prospects day-in, day-out.
- You’re sure that if more people just knew about you and your work, you’d have a ton of great customers for life.
- None of your advertising or marketing efforts are working consistently at a level that is acceptable to you.
- You’re successful, but you have the feeling that you’re missing part of your market.
- Your clients come back, but not on a regular basis. It seems like they have to remember to visit your business, and they don’t remember nearly as often as you’d like.
- Your business is so dependent on paperwork that a guy with a leaf blower could cause serious damage to your business processes in just a few minutes.
- If you needed to contact each of your clients by sending them a letter in the mail, you couldn’t do it – because you don’t know their addresses.
- If you needed to call each of your clients on the phone, you couldn’t do it – because you don’t have their phone numbers.
- You can’t tell your new employee who your 10 best clients are, by name.
- You can’t tell your new sales manager how much your 10 best clients spent with you last year – at least not without spending too much time running a QuickBooks report and picking them out manually.
- You know you need to be on the Internet, and you might even know someone who has increased their profit because of their website, but your efforts to date seem to have been a big waste of time and money. You might not be able to sell your product on the internet, but in the back of your mind, you think there just has to be some way to use it to your advantage.
- When you get a big increase in business in a short period of time, it makes your life and your business environment crazy, and might even make you ask yourself why you’re doing this in the first place.
- You know that there must be a better way, but you never have time to sit down and pursue it because you’re too busy “feeding the bulldog”.
- When you aren’t actively working, your business isn’t making money.
- You are new in business, or just went out on your own after years of being an employee in your line of work. You don’t have much marketing experience. People in your industry respect your skills & knowledge. You know you have plenty of expertise, but you aren’t sure where to start with marketing your services.
- You’re in a heavily competitive business, selling against a lot of competitors (ie: you compete with “Starbucks”) and you find it difficult to compete against their marketing.
- Competition in your market is heavily dependent on price, if not completely price-driven.
- You hate marketing. Selling yourself seems like bragging and few of us were raised that way, so it makes you uncomfortable. As an employee, you knew you always wanted the freedom of working for yourself, but no one ever told you about the work involved in marketing and sales. It wasn’t obvious that “build it and they will come” is just how it works in the movies.
- You have a good business, but your local competition is gaining on you.
If these things remind you of yourself or your business, please keep reading. You’re in the right place and I can help you.
Who is most likely to succeed with me?
- Someone with high standards and expectations. You’re the best in your field in your town, or possibly nationwide. You worked hard to get there and to stay there. If you aren’t recognized as the best, it’s something that you feel you can achieve, or it’s something you want and are willing to work at.
- When you learn a new technique, strategy or action that will improve your business, you take action and implement it as soon as possible. You aren’t the kind of person to invest in a business tool and then let it sit it on the shelf for 3-6 months or more.
- It isn’t just about the money for you. You like your weekends, your spouse, kids, dog, golf clubs, boat and fishing gear. Improving your business is not on the radar if it means giving up the majority of your family and fun time to make it happen.
- You aren’t afraid of a little hard work, even if you don’t want to work 100 hours a week and never see your family.
- Someone instilled “Do it right or don’t do it at all” in you, and you stick to it.
- You aren’t interested in building a successful business that depends on clients who don’t appreciate your products and services, or are just plain rude.
- You recognize that it takes work, time and money to get to the next level and you aren’t afraid to invest in yourself and your business.
If this sounds like you, then I can help you build a better, more profitable business. The next step is to learn how we’ll work together.