Your next 10 clients will usually be a lot like the previous 10. They will pay you a similar fee, have similar requirements and expect a similar level of service too.
That’s great news if you already attract high value, high profit clients. It’s not such great news, if you tend to attract fee sensitive, average clients.
How to build a highly valuable client list
If you want to build a more valuable client list, start today by getting specific about the type of clients you want to work with. When you have done that, consider the following:
What level of service do these higher quality clients expect? Do some research. Find out what they want from a provider in your industry.
Next, build a level of service, which over-delivers on what they expect. By exceeding their expectations, you will have a vastly more powerful proposition to offer them — something that will earn their attention and interest.
Are you prepared to execute on this strategy, in order to build a massively more valuable client base? Nothing I have mentioned so far is difficult to do. However, putting it into play requires courage. It means leaving the failing familiar.
As service providers, we have the freedom to choose who we work with. Deliberately selecting the kind of clients we want, in advance, is the key to building a highly valuable client base.
Leigh asked me a great question yesterday. She wanted to know why her newsletter, which has over 5000 subscribers, generates very few client inquiries for her consultancy.
As Leigh was making a mistake, common to lots of newsletter publishers and bloggers, I thought I’d share my answer with you.
Building your list
The root cause of Leigh’s problem, is that she is doing everything possible to build her list. This is the mantra of pretty-much every content marketing guru and newsletter / blogging course out there.
It’s also total, utter bullshit.
If the purpose of your newsletter or blog is to generate business leads from prospective clients, then your focus should be on quality, not quantity. It’s about building meaningful, deep relationships with the right people, not shallow relationships, with a wide, vague readership.
For example: If you have just 50 engaged subscribers, who value your newsletter or blog and are a perfect fit for your services, you have a valuable list.
If, like Leigh, you have 5000 poorly-targeted people on a list, who you gained using list building techniques, you’re wasting your time and money.
An alternative approach
Get out of the list building mindset. Stop chasing the wrong numbers.
If you want to enjoy better response rates from your marketing messages, you need to know 2 things.
Your prospective clients have never had so many people, fighting for their attention. Whether they are at work, at home or on the move, their computers, phones and tablets are feeding them endless notifications.
You need to understand how they cope with all those messages. They actually do the same as you — They filter out the noise and focus their attention on those they can trust.
So, adding to the noise is not going to help you.
Earning the trust of your marketplace is a far better strategy.
Here’s something for you to think about
If building trust was the foundation of your marketing messages, how would it improve the way your marketplace feels about you and your business?
Here are some proven examples, of how to be anovernight success.
Angry Birds creator Rovio became an overnight success, after 51 less successful games, 8 years of hard work and almost going bankrupt.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling, became an overnight success in 1997… though she started writing fantasy stories as a child, more than 20 years earlier.
The Beatles become an overnight success, after playing more then 1000 gigs.
The fastest selling Kickstarter book ever, was written by Seth Godin. Most people say it took around 3 hours. Godin said it took around 8 years. That’s how long it took him, writing blog posts almost every day, to build a big enough community to reach his Kickstarter target in 3 hours.
If you want to learn from the success of others, copy their strategy rather than their tactics.
Just like Twitter
Twitter succeeded because it was the first, mass market, micro blogging service.
The hundreds of start-ups who tried to copy what Twitter did, failed. They copied Twitter’s tactics, rather than their strategy. Twitter’s strategy was to create a unique form of communicating and connecting.
If those start-ups had built their own, unique way to communicate and connect, they would have created something with the potential to succeed. Instead, they failed, because the people who wanted a service that was just like Twitter… used Twitter!
It works like this
By copying the tactics of a successful business, we become a clone. A copy. Something unremarkable.
By copying the strategy of a successful business, we can create something of our own. A remarkable original. A valuable proposition.
When we see a puppy begging for attention, it looks incredibly cute.
When we see a business owner begging for attention, it makes us cringe!
We all need help at the start
At the very beginning, every business needs to push it’s message. No matter how remarkable, amazing or unique your business is, no one will know about it unless you get it in front of people.
Then, once you have pushed your business under the noses of friends and contacts, and advertised it to your target market, it’s time to listen. If your business is remarkable enough, you will see a snowball effect.
People will start talking about you.
They will share links to your website and pass your details to their friends.
They will call you, email you and ask you for more information.
As a result, more and more people will know about you, talk about you or hire you.
So, what do you do if people hear about your business, yet it just doesn’t interest them enough to buy from you or talk about you?
When all you hear is crickets
If your business is more then 6 months old and your friends and your best contacts, along with those who saw your advertising, are not spreading the word, buying from you or you’re not attracting very regular inquiries, take heed. It’s time to find out why and fix it — to build a new proposition, which people are interested in.
Here’s what doesn’t work: Begging people to be interested in something that’s uninspiring. That approach is what happens when you refuse to fix the problem. It’s a low leverage, low profit, frustrating and reputation-damaging way, to slowly go broke.
Pestering people with unwanted phone calls.
Sending them emails they never asked for.
Sending needy messages using social networks.
Bugging people on forums and community groups.
These all have a negative impact on the way people think and feel about you.
The answer is as simple and as challenging as this
Instead of looking for new, cheaper ways to beg for attention, invest in developing a better proposition… something people will want to spend money on (and share).
Here’s what we know, for certain, about your industry: The average slot has already been filled. There are more than enough average providers, offering an average service.
Trying to out-average your average competitors
This represents a huge challenge, for those who want to grow an average business. How do you out-average all those average service providers?
Of course, you can’t.
This is why the average business goes broke within a few years and why those that survive, only do so because the owner has resigned themselves to working hard, for very little reward.
An alternative approach
Another way to grow a business, is to walk away from average. Average may feel familiar, but it’s not your friend. It’s hurting your business, which means it’s hurting you and your family.
Instead, get specific. Get specific about what you want to achieve and the kind of clients or customers you want to work with. Then, become obsessive about providing that valuable niche with exactly what they want.
It’s a lot more rewarding, than wasting another 5 or 10 years trying to grow an average business.