How to avoid working for clients who undervalue you

Business development, client fees

They say that money goes to money. And they’re absolutely correct. It does. In today’s post I’m going to explain how this works.

Once you understand how wealthy business owners get wealthier, you can adopt the same strategy and reap the rewards. Plus, you’ll never need to work for a low value client again.

Why money goes to money and what it means to your business

The idea behind that saying, is that people with lots of money find it easier to make even more money. Interestingly, a significant chunk of the equation is not the actual money that wealthy people have behind them. Instead, it’s the mindset behind wealthy business owners that helps them acquire more and more wealth.

We see this mindset in play, when we look at how business owners think, regarding the clients they choose to work with and the fees they are prepared to work for.

Here’s what we see:

  • Those who feel poor, will take on almost any new client who comes their way.
  • Those who feel financially strong, will usually cherry-pick who they work with. If they think someone is a bad fit or unprepared to pay what they are worth, they won’t work with them.

Under performing small businesses often struggle from year to year, because the business is run from a mindset of fear. As a result, they work for low fees and eagerly grab anything that comes their way.

This then ensures they stay in that fear cycle, as they never earn enough to become more selective about who they work with or what they charge.

I have met with business owners, who have been stuck in that cycle for a decade or more. They work hard. They often offer just as good a service as those charging far more than them. Yet, their focus on fear causes them to undervalue their work and lower the bar on the clients and fees they will accept.

How to escape the cycle

We have to start by understanding something fundamental:

A wealthy business owner would soon find themselves in trouble, if they were to apply that fear based thinking to their business development.

No business can thrive, working for peanuts and for clients who undervalue them.

Here’s what your escape plan looks like, if you want to break free from this cycle:

  • Gather the courage to start being selective regarding who you are prepared to work with. This may feel risky, but the riskiest thing you can do is carry on working for low value clients.
  • Offer the highest quality service you can. Look for ways to pump as much value into your work as possible. Create an amazing client experience, so that hiring you becomes a pleasure for your clients… an experience they will cherish and want to tell their friends about.
  • Then, adjust your fees up to reflect all that great value you deliver.

You need to do this before you become wealthy or you will find yourself stuck in the cycle.

Ironically, playing it safe, by working for low value clients for low fees is one of the riskiest things you can do. That’s worth remembering, the next time you accept a new client or quote a fee!

This will help

Here are all 3 parts of a series I wrote, on how to market your services to the best potential clients:

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 1.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 2.

How to attract the best clients and the highest fees – Part 3.

What you need to know about Skills and Strategy

professional development,

One of the reasons small business owners often work hard, for too little reward, is that they confuse skills with strategy.

The difference between skills and strategy can be summed up like this:

Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to read… but more importantly, what do you plan to read?

When it comes to marketing, I’ve found that most small business owners score well on skills and poorly on strategy. They know how to do the mechanics (the 20%) of marketing, yet they achieve a fraction of the results they should be getting, because they are missing the strategy — the 80% that makes all the difference!

Right skills, wrong strategy

Unaware that their lack of an effective strategy is losing them a fortune, they carry on doing the right things, incorrectly.

Some extremely common examples you see every day include:

  • They may know how to set up a Twitter or Linkedin account, but they lack the strategy to transfer their time and effort, into bankable results.
  • They may know how to publish a newsletter, but they lack the strategy to turn it into a rapidly growing source of sales and business leads.
  • They may know how to answer the phone professionally, but they lack the strategy to transfer enough inbound inquiries into sales or new clients.
  • They may know how to set up a blog, but they lack the strategy to get thousands of people reading it and talking about it to their friends.
  • They may know how to write a marketing message, but they lack the strategy to inspire people to read it or compel readers to take action.

So, they say they tried [whatever type of marketing] ‘but it doesn’t work’. It does work – but not if you’re doing it incorrectly.

Here’s the thing: Very, very few small business owners have an effective strategy for any of their marketing. They simply copy what they see others doing – even though the people they copy are equally baffled and are also following what THEY see others doing.

This approach is something I call, follow-the-follower. What we used to refer to as the blind following the blind.

We need to be smarter than that

For example, does your email marketing generate significant, bankable results for your business? It should. Here’s how I helped Irene make over $32,000 in 9 days, with email marketing. Everything improves when you get strategic, so long as you choose the correct strategy for your business.

So, how do you make sure you have the correct strategy in place?

The easiest business decision you will ever make

The decision here is extremely simple, because there are only 2 options for you to choose from. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s the easiest business decision you will ever make.

Here it is:

  1. If you have a lot of time and a lot of money, you can use trial and error. Dabbling with DIY marketing is extremely costly in time and in missed sales / new clients.
  2. If you don’t have years to waste or money to burn, you can hire a proven marketing expert. He or she can show you exactly what you need to do, so you start moving in the right direction within days.

I never hear from people in that first group. Obviously :)

However, I hear from lots of entrepreneurs who want to pick my brains for the answers their business needs. You are welcome to do the same. It’s a service that is [literally] guaranteed to help you. You can find out more here.

Marketing Tip: Focus on the edges, not the middle!

marketing tips, marketing ideas, sales

The middle ground feels safer. That’s why it’s so crowded. However, the real value comes from pushing what you do to the edges.

There isn’t an area of your business, which you can’t edge. Here are 9 examples to get you started:

  1. Push your copywriting to the edges, so it motivates people to take action.
  2. Push your service to the edges, so it’s of unique value to people.
  3. Push your quality to the edges, so your brand becomes a byword for excellence.
  4. Push your communication skills to the edges, so people are motivated when you speak.
  5. Push your leadership to the edges, so people follow you.
  6. Push your creativity to the edges, so you can find the answers and ideas you need.
  7. Push your courage to the edges, so you do what’s right rather than what feel safe.
  8. Push your commitment to the edges, so your business gets the resources it needs.
  9. Push your visibility to the edges, so prospective clients can find you.

Let others embrace the middle ground. Let them offer average services, to average people, for average fees. You deserve batter than that!

The middle ground is not for you

How do I know? Because the people who read my work are those in search of fresh ideas and answers. You’re not interested in struggling in the middle ground.

Embrace the edges, my friend. Embrace the edges and show your marketplace just how remarkable you are!

Listen to your results. Really. They’re telling you something!

deserve

Today’s post is all about how to make massively better business decisions, by using your results as a compass.

I live in the countryside. Fields of crops are everywhere and this time of year, it looks beautiful. Young crops are starting to grow and fields that were dark green are slowly turning golden.

Just imagine how different that picture would look, if instead of the farmers bringing their seeds to the soil, they brought their needs to the soil. Imagine if the farmers had stood in the middle of their fields and told the soil that they needed a great harvest, but they failed to plant and nurture the seeds.

  • The fields would be barren.
  • No crops.
  • No harvest.

And with no harvest, there would be no income.

Your business results work in the same way

Business results are based on what we deserve, not what we need. Think about it:

  • When a business owner does the right things correctly, she gets the rewards her actions deserve.
  • When a business owner follows the wrong strategy, she also gets the results her actions deserve.
  • This remains true no matter how desperately she needs more sales, more clients or more income.

The challenge for most struggling business owners, is accepting that they are working the wrong strategy.

No business owner is unaware that their business is stagnating or contracting. They know better than anyone that they have wasted another year. They know better than anyone that things need to improve. The challenge they have is making the decision to do something about it. Read this: Don’t let this decision destroy your business.

The Failing Familiar

Since starting my business in 1995, I have worked with thousands of business owners worldwide. I’ve discovered an interesting trend. Many small business owners become attached to what I call The Failing Familiar. That’s to say, they find their current strategy so comfortable, even though it’s going nowhere, that they stick with it. They hope things will somehow magically improve. So they hunker down. Before they know it, years pass by. It’s tragic and 100% unnecessary.

Here’s the thing: Your business results are like a compass. They’re either demanding you carry on with your current direction because it’s working, or they’re screaming at you to choose a better direction.

The question is, are you listening to what your results are telling you and acting accordingly?

Business owners: Don’t mistake silence for satisfaction

silence

In business, we need to ensure we don’t mistake silence for satisfaction.

Why? Because many people, perhaps most people, dislike confrontation. So, when they experience an average or even below average service, rather than complain they will simply say nothing.

At least not to the business owner! This often leaves business owners with a silent problem that could be hurting their business.

Here’s the challenge this creates

  • Some customers are too polite to complain about a product that disappoints them. However, they won’t buy from the provider again and they will tell their friends.
  • Some diners are too polite to complain about poor quality food at a restaurant. However, they won’t eat there again and they will tell their friends.
  • Some clients are too polite to complain about the poor service they receive. However, they won’t use that service again and they will tell their friends.

As a business owner, you need to look past the silence. Here are just a small number of clues that could suggest you have an issue:

  • If you don’t receive regular word of mouth referrals from your clients.
  • If your attrition rate is poor [the length of time you retain your clients].
  • If you seldom receive praise or gratitude from your clients or customers.
  • If too few clients or customers use your service / buy from you, and don’t return.

If you want to know what your clients are really thinking, look at their actions. Talk to them, sure, however, pay very close attention to what they do… and what they fail to do.

If it feels safe, it’s not moving you forward!

safe work, fear

If the work you’re doing feels safe, it’s probably not moving you forward.

Why? Because our best work doesn’t feel safe. It doesn’t feel comfortable either.

Our best work is very different

Our best work causes us to stretch… to embrace the edges. If you feel comfortable with your work for too many days in a row, stop. Check that you’re not mistaking activity for productivity.

Otherwise you can end up working hard, working long hours, working safe — and making very little progress.

The 3 paths to financial wealth

financial wealth

There are 3 ways to become wealthy. Here they are, starting with the easiest.

1. The easiest way to get rich is to be born into a wealthy family

Examples here include Seth Godin and Sir Richard Branson. Being born into a wealthy family, you get the benefits of growing up in a financially stable environment, with family members who can support you and make sure you go to “the right” school or university. Seth, for example, went to Stanford.

With financial support and a place at the right university, you’re free to make world-class connections. These connections are priceless in adulthood, when you have a project to fund or business to sell, etc.

When we look at all the wealthy families, who have passed wealth down through many generations, we see how family wealth cascades down to more family wealth.

Clearly, the lottery of birth means we can’t choose what kind of family to be born into. On the subject of the lottery, let’s look at the second easiest way to get rich.

2. Win millions on the lottery or inherit a fortune, etc

This is less easy than being born wealthy, because you have no experience of dealing with huge sums of money. It’s also why so many lottery winners end up broke, despite advice from financial experts.

Without the advantage of growing up in a wealthy family, the average lottery winner needs to quickly learn how to think like a millionaire. Many do, but sadly, many don’t and lose everything. Here are some examples of lottery winners who went broke.

The challenge with this second route to getting rich, is that you have very little chance of winning millions on the lottery. So, let’s look at the third route to wealth, which is also the most rewarding and most realistic route.

3. Earn every darn penny!

This is the situation most people reading this started from, including myself. We need to accept that it will be easier said than done. We need to start from zero, make our own contacts, build our own bridges, work smart, work hard… all without any guarantee of success or a rich family to fall back on.

You know what though? We can do it!

It’s harder without all the money and contacts, but it’s possible. We see examples everywhere, of people who started with no money, no contacts, no influence, yet become happy, wealthy people. I know dozens of people who fit into this category and they are all inspirational.

There’s literally no limit on what we can achieve. Yes, literally! Remember, Steve Jobs was born into an average income family, dropped out of college and never won the lottery, yet he built the world’s most valuable company. Steve Jobs was exceptional. I only use Jobs as an example, because he proved that there’s no upper limit on what we can achieve.

The recipe for the 3rd easiest route

Time and again, I have found that the most successful business owners had the following in common. It looks something like this:

  • They decide what they want.
  • They do the research.
  • They plan it out.
  • They commit to do whatever is required, not just the things they’re comfortable with… EVERYTHING!
  • Then they get to work. They adjust as required along the way, but commit to doing whatever it takes.

Yes, it’s easier said than done. This is true of everything of value in life. Also, we’ve established that unless you were born rich or have won the lottery, the easy route isn’t an option.

However, the very fact that it isn’t easy is what makes it so valuable.

That’s what places this amazing opportunity right in front of you, right now!

A lesson from the best decisions you ever made

Professional development, business development

Have you noticed something about the best decisions you ever made?

They were all BIG decisions. The decision to get married, to start a family, to buy a home, to start a business … these life enriching decisions are huge and come with no guarantee of success.

The same is true in business

Our biggest commercial successes also come from making big decisions. As such, there’s a direct link between our willingness to make big decisions and the potential of our business.

It’s also why ongoing business problems can usually be traced back to a tough decision, which is being avoided.

That’s worth remembering, the next time you find yourself plagued with a persistent business challenge.

Tip: Here are 21 powerful habits behind highly successful business owners.

3 Ways to turn testimonials into marketing gold dust

testimonials

Your clients love you and you have some great testimonials. Today, I want to show you how to transform those testimonials into a massively valuable asset for your business.

I was prompted to write this, after I added some testimonials to a page that promotes my individual marketing sessions. In just 72 hours, using the 3 ideas I’m about to share with you, bookings surged by almost 50%.

Here’s what I did and how to make it work for you and your business.

The 3 Key factors

First of all, here’s the page I’m going to be referring to. If you take a look, you will see that I have used the testimonials in a very specific and highly effective way.

Here are the 3 key factors behind the success of those testimonials.

1. The testimonials are in the correct place

Many business owners have a dedicated testimonials page. This is extremely ineffective. Your prospective clients need to see testimonials in context! Testimonials need to be right there, as a part of the message they’re reading.

This makes your marketing message stronger, because an independent 3rd party is confirming how valuable your offering is, at the exact point where the prospective client is forming their opinion.

2. The testimonials stand out, rather than get in the way

Even when a business owner places them on the same page as their marketing message, they usually use the wrong format. Typically, the testimonials will be placed into the text of the marketing message.

The challenge with that approach is that it breaks up the flow of your message. It gets in the way. It weakens what you have to say.

If you take a look at what I did, you’ll see that the testimonials are delivered as images… clean, clear white text on a deep grey rectangle. These text images are placed to the right of the actual content, so they are there to be seen, yet without them breaking the flow of the message. This allows you to get the balance right, between making the testimonial highly visible, yet not putting it in the way of your marketing message.

3. The testimonials are short and relevant

Most testimonials you see business owners using are way, way too long. Using lengthy testimonials wrongly presupposes that your prospective client is going to wade through the fluff, to find the key, relevant reassurance she needs.

Lengthy, diluted testimonials lack the impact of a short, relevant statement. They are also too long to use within your marketing message. So, find the key point or points of the testimonial and discard the fluff.

Remember: You worked hard to earn your testimonials. Now it’s time to make your testimonials work for you.

Successful marketing leaves clues

success leaves clues

When it comes to marketing, success leaves clues. By following these clues and learning from them, it’s possible to significantly improve your marketing.

For example, spend a few minutes thinking about the following:

  • The last marketing email, which you were motivated to open because it had a powerful subject line.
  • The last marketing email you read, which persuaded you to take action. [To ask for information, pick up the phone, make a purchase, etc.]
  • The last blog post you read, which you were motivated to bookmark, save or share.
  • The last advertisement you saw or heard, which led to you making a purchase.
  • The last service you experienced, which impressed you so much that you wanted to tell your friends about it. Read this. It will help.
  • The last newsletter you received, which you forwarded to your friends.

Turning clues into results

Each of those examples contains a clue. To uncover the clue, you need to answer this question:

What can I learn from this example of marketing success, which I can adapt and apply to my own marketing?

By studying marketing success, it’s possible to make better marketing decisions. The good news here is that there are examples of successful marketing all around you.

Bonus: You can also learn a great deal by studying terrible marketing and uncovering why it was so ineffective. Knowing what to avoid is enormously valuable, too.