How to fire your low quality clients and grow a rewarding business

Professional marketing is not just about attracting new clients.  It’s about attracting high quality clients; the kind of people or businesses you want to work with, value your work and who pay you accordingly.

Low quality clients from ineffective marketing

The challenge here is that many small businesses do not market their services correctly.  As a direct result, they often end up working with low quality clients.  These typically include:

  • Clients who pay them too late and cause cash flow problems.
  • Clients who pay them too little.
  • Clients who clearly grab more of their time and energy than they pay for.
  • Clients who are just a total pain in the ass to work with!

In an effort to get money in, these business owners feel pressured into accepting almost any clients who come their way.  In doing so, they take a short-term decision, which usually leads to long term problems that reduce their chances of business survival, let alone success.

Working in a business with a low quality client list can be pretty soul destroying too.  It’s also not uncommon for your worst clients to be your most demanding clients.  I have often seen businesses, where 50% of their time is spent on the worst 10% of their clients.

When I first start working with a new client, I make it a priority to redesign their client list, so they can fire their over-demanding, unappreciative and bad paying clients.  Today, I am going to suggest that you consider doing the same.  I recommend you start developing a marketing plan to rid yourself of your lowest value clients and replace them with the profile of client that is best suited to your business goals.

One in. One out

I have heard respected business leaders telling small business owners to fire their lowest value clients today.  I think these experts sometimes forget what it’s like running a small business and that if some small business owners were to take their advice, they would go broke within 30/60 days.  This is why I recommend replacing clients, one in, one out.  When your improved marketing generates a high quality client, you fire your worst client; until you have developed a client list based on the ideal profile for you and your business.

The challenge here is that you have to change your current marketing, if you want to improve the calibre of clients you attract.  If you repeat the same kind of marketing errors, which led you to attract your existing low value clients, you will simply be swapping low quality clients for new, low quality clients.

If you are not sure about exactly how to start attracting the best clients, you can either try and learn how to “do it yourself” or you can save a lot of time and a massive amount of money, by hiring a marketing professional who already knows exactly what you need to do and will work with you to make it happen.

The bottom line:  Hoping that things will just get better isn’t a strategy.

What do YOU do when it rains?

It’s raining!

  • One person walks down the street, notices the rain has started and begins complaining.  They moan to themselves that they are going to get soaked, as they seek shelter.
  • Another person notices the rain and is thankful.  This person also takes shelter, but is happy that their garden is finally getting some much needed rain.

It’s raining on both these people, yet the way they respond is completely different.

The next time you experience some dark clouds, consider looking for the seed of opportunity, which is almost always there.

We may not be able to stop it raining on us, but we can certainly control how we choose to respond.

How to win in a world full of failing businesses

Hey Jim: Can you tell me how to do the wrong thing, correctly?

You would be amazed how many times every week, someone asks me that question.  No, they don’t use those exact words, but they are asking me to tell them the right way to do something, which is incorrect.  Most commonly, they will have started a business in a niche, where there are already established operators and where they are offering nothing new, then ask me how to market their poorly thought out offering.

Here’s the thing:  The best marketing in the world is no match for a poorly thought out product or service.

You can’t out Amazon, Amazon

Opening an online book store today, when Amazon already owns the marketplace, is not a wise move for a small business owner.  You can’t expect Bob to stop using Amazon to buy his books, then to go to your site and go through the hassle of setting up a new account, even though he already knows and trusts Amazon.  He’s never heard of you, you are offering nothing different from his existing, trusted provider and that makes it extremely hard to get him to switch.  You may convince a small number of people to join you, but as U.S retail giants Walmart even discovered; “You can’t out Amazon, Amazon!”

If you have a business idea, which is just like something an established brand offers, you will struggle.

A better combination

A wiser approach is to develop a product or service that is significantly better (in ways your prospective clients will value) than what’s already out there; then market it as effectively as possible.

It takes more creativity than copying what someone else is doing, but the rewards are infinitely better when you do the right things, correctly!

It’s holiday time on Jim’s Marketing Blog

One of the wonderful things about blogging, is that you can write posts and then set them up to be published at a later date.  So, even though I am enjoying a wonderful, 7 day break with my family starting today, you will still see posts published here next week.

During my break, I won’t be hanging out in the comments section.  So, please take that into account if you direct a comment for my attention.

I hope you enjoy the posts I have lined up for you next week and I look forward to sharing some exciting news with you when I return!

How can calories help your marketing and boost your profits?

Business development

If you want to earn a premium fee for your services, you need to provide a premium experience and market that experience.

I call this idea; marketing the EXPERIENCE rather than the CALORIES.

Allow me to explain.

Experience and calories

The reason there are restaurants that can successfully charge 5 times as much as others, is because people are not paying these top venues for the calories.  They can get the calories from Burger King for pennies.  People are paying for the experience; great atmosphere, sumptuous food, incredible service etc.

The lawyer in your town who charges the least for their time, is usually as qualified as the lawyer who charges the most.  Using the restaurant example, you could say they both offered the same calories.  The bargain basement lawyer is selling his services based on the calories.  The lawyer who attracts the best clients and the highest fees, sells her services based on the experience; outstanding service, quality of staff, speed of client responses, exceptional reputation etc.

The bottom end of the market is fee / price sensitive:  Those who target this market segment, are always looking for ways to shave a penny here and a penny there off their costs, so they can get their sale price or service delivery fee as low as possible.  For those who lack the funds to buy a premium product or premium service, this is how they identify value.  They may see the benefit of buying a higher priced, higher quality product or service, but if it’s genuinely beyond their budget, they will go for the best of the cheapest options.

The top end of the market is about experience based value:  It’s about pumping as much value into your services as you can.  It’s about making the best product you possibly can or rendering the highest quality of service you can and always looking for ways to make it better.  A new client recently referred to my marketing services as “Disney quality service”, after the legendary customer service experience Disney are known for.  That’s a wonderful example of the effectiveness of marketing and then delivering a premium experience.

Already offering a premium quality service?

If you are already offering an outstanding service, but find yourself attracting cost-conscious prospective clients, it’s a sign that there is a disconnect between the value you offer and your marketing.  Look at your marketing and see if you are marketing the calories or the experience.

If you are placing too much emphasis on the elements of your service, which the bargain basement guys also provide (the calories), you will attract the wrong people and they will think you are too expensive.  Focusing your marketing on the elements of your service that are outstanding, (the experience), means you are marketing to your strengths and making it easier for the right kind of clients to find and fall in love with your services.

Not offering a premium service?

The reason we see so many average businesses out there, is that very few business owners realise they are average.  Many people are so passionate about their business and their clients, that they are unaware their competitors are just as passionate and trying just as hard.  They then waste years marketing what they think is a premium service, when in reality it has far less market value than that.  It’s average and the fee is slightly above average, making the services look poor value for money.  These business owners blame fee-sensitive prospective clients for their problems, rather than increasing the value of their services and marketing that value correctly.

The bottom line:  If you want to sell a premium service for a premium fee, pump as much value into your services as you can and then market it on the experience, not the calories.

What next?

Here is a special 3 post series, to help you attract the very best clients and the highest fees:

How to attract the best clients and highest fees (Part 1)

How to attract the best clients and highest fees (Part 2)

How to attract the best clients and highest fees (Part 3)

How do you look?

How good an observer are you?

One of the lessons my mentor shared with me, was the commercial value of being a good observer.  This means observing what’s happening and looking for the beauty or lesson in what you see.  It also means looking at the subtext of conversations and the meaning behind what people say, rather than just the words themselves.

When we look at a person’s actions or words on a surface level, its easy to miss the bigger picture.  For example:

  • Bob may be telling you he’s fine, because he really is fine.
  • Alternatively, Bob may be telling you he’s fine because he’s uncomfortable asking you for the help he desperately needs.

I was prompted to write this post, after something I saw when I went out for lunch last week.

I was in a coffee shop enjoying my shrimp salad, when I noticed the people on the table next to mine were complaining about how long it was taking them to be served.  However, when the waitress brought their order and asked, without even making eye contact, if everything was OK, they said “Yes.”  As soon as she left their table, they carried on complaining about the service.

The message below the words

If the waitress in that example simply listened to what these diners said, she would have thought everything was fine.  If she observed the situation more deeply, she would have been able to tell very quickly that they were less than happy.  Their tone of voice, body language and lack of engagement were shouting out how displeased they were.

If you want to really know what your clients, customers and contacts are thinking or what additional help they may need, it pays to invest the time required to be a better observer.

The bottom line:  Business is all about people, which makes the development of our people skills an essential part of our toolbox.

Are you making this common mistake when selling your services?

How much do you charge per hour?

The reason I ask you this, is that I have a suggestion for you.  If you currently quote prospective clients an hourly rate for your services, I would like you to reconsider.  In my experience, you will almost certainly do a lot better, if you quote based on the value of the result you deliver, rather than how long it takes you to deliver it.

Here’s why:

  • People never pay for the hour.
  • People always pay for the result.

For example:

  • You pay a gardener for cutting your grass and pulling up your weeds, not the 3 hours they spend doing it.  If you were just paying for the hours, it wouldn’t matter whether your grass was cut or not.  If using up the gardeners time was your outcome, you would be fine if he or she just spent those 3 hours looking at the garden or reading a book.
  • You pay the chiropractor for getting you out of pain, not the 30 minutes they spend doing it.
  • You pay the copywriter for the 500% increase in your marketing leads, not the 5 hours they spent writing the marketing pages on your website.
  • You pay the seminar provider for the information they give you, not the day they spend delivering that information to you and the other delegates.

Results based marketing

When you sell your services based on a per hour fee, your income is capped, because the number of hours you can sell each week is capped.  When you sell your services based on the value of the result you deliver, you can increase your income almost infinitely, by learning how to provide results that are increasingly valuable.

Prospective clients appreciate this value / results model, because the hourly rate model rewards incompetence.

If a service provider charges X per hour, there’s an incentive for them to take as many hours as they can.  Equally, the per hour service provider earns less, the more efficient they are.

In short:  Look at what the prospective client wants to achieve and then quote them a fee for you to deliver that result.

What everybody ought to know about achieving their goals

I was walking home this evening, when I decided to stop and take this photo with my phone.  It’s not a great photo, but my photographic skills are not what this brief post is about.

This post is about the decision I made a decade ago, which made this photo of my walk home possible!

My lifestyle today sees me living in the countryside with my beautiful family, making more money than I need, working fewer hours than anyone I know; yet it all started off as a series of notes I scribbled down on a notepad.

The reason for this post, is that most of the stories you hear like this, where someone talks about how their life changed immeasurably for the better when they started setting goals, are written by people selling goal setting books, seminars or goal-setting software. I have nothing like that to sell you.  I just have a few ideas to share, which I hope will inspire some of you or even one of you, to do as I did and massively improve the quality of your life.

FACT: You don’t need goal setting books, seminars or software!

The reality is that you don’t need to buy goal setting products.  You simply need to know what you want and to make the decision to do everything you can, to make it happen.  Learn what you need to learn, find the people whose help you will need and work like crazy.  Chunk your main goals down into small achievable, measurable pieces, and use these as the stepping stones to get you from where you are, to where you want to be.  Review your goals each evening and again once a week.  Check you are on course and if you are not making measurable progress in reasonable time, make the necessary adjustments.  That’s all I did and I can assure you, it works extremely well!

Many people fail to achieve their goals, because they get fixated on making sure they follow all the steps from some dumbass book.  They try and work with those bogus, overcomplicated goal-setting strategies, then get so confused that they lack the motivation to make it happen!  If you are hungry you don’t need a sophisticated sandwich making strategy.  You will figure it out.

Something truly magical happens, when we commit our goals to paper and start working on making them a reality.  As Earl Nightingale discovered: “We become what we think about.”  When we think about our goals and then work to make them happen, we progressively move toward their attainment.

The challenge

Why not make today the day you decide to commit your major life goals to paper, followed by some initial plans and a commitment to do whatever is required to make your goals real?

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!


Are you ready, willing and able? Then show me!

For your marketing to work, you need your prospective clients to know that you are ready, willing and able to service their needs.  The challenge here, is that many small business owners only demonstrate 2 out of those 3 requirements.

Here’s what I see time and again with small business marketing:

  1. I know you are ready to attract more clients, because you are marketing your services to me.
  2. I know you are willing to work with me, because you have targeted me with a marketing message expressing your willingness.
  3. I have no idea if you are able, though!

Yes, you have testimonials on your website but so do all your competitors.  These testimonials provide me with little real insight as to your ability, because we all know they are usually written by the best case clients; so not as representative as I need them to be.

I see you have some badges on your website, brochure or letter head, but they mean nothing to me.  I’m not an expert in your industry and have no idea if they have any credibility.  Even if they are credible, I am likely to see them on your competitors sites and marketing materials too.  In other words, I still know zero about your knowledge or skills.

Show me

So, if you want me to find out how awesome you are, show me!

Start writing blog posts or newsletter articles, which demonstrate your knowledge to me.  Show me what you know and how valuable your information is.  Use your marketing messages to deliver information to me that has value; something I can use rather than just a sales pitch.  Educate me.  Cause me to position you in my mind as an expert in your field and the logical person to call, when I need paid-for help from someone in your industry.

Show your prospective clients that you are ready, willing and able.

The good news? Very, very few of your competitors are doing this right now!

How to get the clarity and direction your business needs

If you want to grow a successful business, you need to know exactly where you are and where you want to be.  When that’s in place you need a plan to get you from A to B, based on your resources.

The way I achieve this with my clients is via a fact-finder, which I go through with them on our first session.  I think you may find this useful.  So, if you and I were working together today for the very first time, here’s part of what we would be doing right now:

  • I would go through a series of questions with you, in order for me to get a clear picture of exactly where your business is today.  This becomes the starting point of our journey.
  • Next, I’d work with you to discover where you would like your business to be – What I call your ultimate business goal.  If you are unclear or fuzzy regarding the specifics, I would work with you, so that you had the clarity you need.  This becomes our destination and allows us to have all your marketing directed on a clear objective.  (Many clients later say that after going through this with me, they achieved total clarity for the first time with their business.)
  • Then, I would begin working with you for a whole year, to guide you from where you are, to where you want to be, based on your resources.  All my work is based on attraction marketing, so your marketing would be designed to attract leads, clients or customers.  You would have zero need to chase new business.

Get clear regarding where you are today

This is more than knowing what your turnover and profits are.  It means looking at things like the type of clients you work for and the kind of fees you work for and determining if these are right for you.  If not, we need to change them.  For example, one of my current clients has increased her fees 3 times in the past year, achieving a massive increase in revenues and profits, whilst also attracting higher quality clients too.  This must be handled correctly, but if it is, the rewards can be amazing.

Get clear regarding where you want to be

Many small business owners know that they want things to be better or that they want to earn more, but that’s not enough.  You need to know what your ultimate goal for your business is.  Do you want to sell it for as much money as possible?  Do you want to pass it on to a family member?  Do you want to develop it into a residual income stream for when you retire, (a business that requires just a few hours a week for a full time income), etc?

A lot of small business owners suffer from what I call mind fog; a term I use to describe the kind of fuzzy thinking that leads to businesspeople working hard, but without making real progress.  This is like someone sailing their yacht, trying to find an island, but with no idea where that island is.  They wouldn’t know how to set their sail, to make the best use of the wind or even if they were going in the right direction.  Clarity is essential to your success, which is why I help provide crystal clear focus for my clients.  However you achieve it, you need that clarity too.

Develop a plan

Once you know where you are and where you want to be, you need a plan that will show you how to make it happen.  Your hard work needs to be directed effectively, so that you make the most progress, as swiftly as possible.  This is a common area where small business owners and entrepreneurs in general get it wrong.  Rather than developing a plan that’s been developed for their unique situation, resources and goals, they copy what they see others doing.  That’s extremely ineffective.

You know a great deal about your service or products and how they benefit people.  However, you probably know a lot less about how to develop your business, step-by-step, so that you are growing at the right pace, attracting the best clients and working for the most rewarding fees.  When I work with a client, we develop a plan based on their unique situation, goals and resources.  This is what you need.  If you have tried emulating what you have seen others doing and found it has not worked for you, you will already know how frustrating and unrewarding it is.  You need (and deserve) a better strategy than that!

Get moving

You also need to get moving.  The best plan in the world will not work, unless you use it correctly.  It helps enormously in business, when you have someone you can turn to, for the inspiration, motivation and encouragement you need; especially if they have already achieved what you are seeking to achieve.  With my clients, I am on hand as their coach or mentor, to provide them with the motivation they need, in order to put their plans into action.  They benefit from my experience, having achieved financial independence before I was 30, after being flat broke aged 21.

A part of your journey

Thousands of people read my work every day and allow me, even if in just a small way, to become a part of their journey.

Others work with me on the development of their business, where I coach or mentor them on how to make the progress they deserve; using the most effective marketing ideas, insights and strategies I know.  They have me on hand, whenever required, to guide and support them or simply to share ideas with.  If you are a small business owner and you would like to find out how I can help you and your business, simply get in touch.  I will happily answer any questions you have.  I look forward to hearing from you!