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Smarter change

Finding more and better clients

OK, so you know a lot about improving other people’s businesses. Why not take a little time to improve your own? Here is a set of questions guaranteed to help you get more and better clients.

You’ll need to have been in business for at least 3 months.The longer the better. There are no right or wrong answers, of course, but there is some action to take when you’ve answered these questions.

The key questions are:

I’ll take you through it one step at a time.

Where do your clients come from?

First, take the time to list all of your clients on a spreadsheet. Ask where each came from originally. Often we go no further than saying “it’s referral business”. Challenge yourself to dig down to who referred you. Here are some I use:

  • repeat business (working for the same client)
  • client referral
  • colleague referral
  • friend referral
  • book referral
  • web site referral
  • agent first time
  • agent repeat
  • colleague as agent
  • colleague as agent repeat
  • direct sale.

Add up each category. The totals should determine where to spend your networking and marketing time in the next 6 – 12 months. The higher numbers are the types of people you need to spend more time with.

If your work mostly comes from existing clients, plan to lunch with existing clients even more regularly. If it’s from colleagues, keep in touch and swap stories more. If from agencies, make sure you let your agent know about your availability, exciting or new projects you’re working on, and keep them on your Christmas card list!

Where did you spend your marketing time?

The next question is to examine where you currently spend your marketing time.

Take out your diary. Look at each day for the past 3 months at least. Work out how much time you spent on marketing activities. If you don’t have records telling you this, try estimating what you did.

Categories for marketing activities include:

  • phone calls, emails, thank you cards, coffee, lunch with colleagues, former clients or potential clients
  • seminars
  • going to networking events
  • organising networking events for your own clients
  • breakfasts
  • book launches
  • developing or giving talks
  • writing articles or books
  • fixing or creating content for your web page
  • writing e-zines, articles or books
  • briefing agents or publicists
  • going to client briefings
  • reading or preparing tender documents.

Compare where you actually spend your marketing time and where your clients are coming from (the first question). Which activities do you then think you need to do more? Which less? Which are “dead” investment?

Set yourself a monthly or weekly goal for where to spend marketing time

Who do you want to work with, and what do you want to do?

Next, list your 10 least favourite client individuals. And your 10 most favourite. What do the favourites have in common? And the least favourites?

Now list the 10 work activities you love doing most. And, of course, the 10 you like least. They might be client-related work, or they could be activities like bookkeeping or marketing. What do they have in common? Which do you want to do more of? Which can you outsource or avoid doing?

From this, you can begin to set an “ideal” client profile. The ideal clients resemble your favourites, and need work like the activities you love to do. We don’t always have as much choice as we like, but I believe that recognising when a client is doomed to failure with me is part of my service to clients. If they’re like my 10 least favourite list, doing work I least like to do, they need another consultant. I enjoy saying “Let me recommend you someone who will suit you better.”

So where should you spend your marketing time?

So, go back to your monthly marketing goals. Which will attract the clients you want to work with. What magazines do your 10 favourites read? Where do they hang out? What industry events do they go to? What sports do they play? Who do they listen to? What interests do they have in common? This is where you need to be!Now make like Nike!

So now you have some data you can use to make decisions on where you spend your marketing time in the next three to six months.

You know how to get more clients – do more of what got you the last ones, and less of what didn’t.

You know how to get better clients – do your marketing activities in places where your favourites hang out.

All that’s left is to do it!

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