If you’re sitting on the starting blocks, waiting to go…
OR if you still feel like you’re starting out, even though you have a little bit of experience…
OR if you’re foraying into new markets where you may have confidence but not a big track record yet…
This should be an especially fruitful essay for you!
It’s about building credibility to approach new clients, when you’re starting at or close to zero.
It’s Mailbox Monday! Which means I’m responding to a reader question.
I do have a rather long queue of questions right now. However, if you’ve got a pressing question and you want to have it answered here, go ahead and send it to me at [email protected].
I pick the best questions every Monday to answer right here.
My most pressing business need is to get my first 3 paying clients. My short term goal is to replace my employed income of £2000, which equates to 3 clients on retainer for a PPC service.
The biggest obstacle is building credibility with prospective clients, as I’ve not run or managed a PPC campaign before.
I learned from your article How to Get Your First Copywriting Client to remove client risk by making an offer they can’t refuse. I’m also figuring out a way to position my lack of experience as a positive.
What do you think of this approach? Do you have any other suggestions?
I have a whole pile of recommendations for you.
So let’s dive in.
First, remember this: this is a HUGELY-COMMON entrepreneurial experience. Especially for those entrepreneurs who are always pushing themselves.
Frankly, your growth as an entrepreneur and as a person will be full of times where you feel like you’re pushing beyond your point of credibility. That is, you take on a new challenge, and a new challenge, and a new challenge. Each one an opportunity to grow a little bit.
Anybody that stays 100% in their comfort zone doesn’t do anything. And they certainly don’t build really interesting businesses that create a ton of value.
That said, this simple act REQUIRES you to embrace failure. Even if you follow my advice to the letter, you will probably fail. A lot. Not because it’s bad advice. But because this isn’t rocket science — it’s more complicated!
By that I mean, rocket science is pretty much built on predictable results. You follow the plans, you build the rocket, and it flies. (I know, I simplify, but you get the point.)
Marketing is something completely different. Even the world’s best marketers, salespeople, and business-builders do things that flop. Regularly. There’s no sure thing in business or marketing. You have to go out there, try things, stop doing what doesn’t work, and do more of what does.
Okay, now to the more specific advice.
These first few points are all about your message.
FIRST: Focus on RESULTS…
In your question, you talked all about you and your experience.
Experience is important. I’m not going to downplay it. But people don’t buy based on experience. When they say they’re buying based on experience, it’s because it’s a proxy they use to judge the likelihood of results.
There are all sorts of other proxies you can put in place of experience, to draw the focus toward the results you’re going to get for the client.
I imagine, for example, that you’ve done a lot of homework. If you’re looking to run PPC campaigns, you’ve read the books by Perry Marshall and others, and are familiar with the fundamentals of PPC marketing.
You know the basics. And you’re personally confident you can get the results, if given the opportunity.
Instead of focusing exclusively on you, instead make it about them. Make it about the results they want.
Remember: No matter how experienced you are, your fundamental job in business is to create a result. To solve a problem. In this case, to find a way to get more customers to their business, spending more, more often — using effective PPC marketing.
Make it about the PROCESS…
When you don’t have experience, you do have to have something to go on.
The good news is, there are a TON of different proof and credibility factors you can use.
One of the best? To have a process in place.
It doesn’t even matter if the process is yours, as long as you understand how to implement it. (In fact, some of the highest-status business consulting firms in the world hire recent college grads to implement their system and process, and charge high fees for these inexperienced “consultants.” The reason it works and clients are satisfied is because the process works.)
So, pick someone who has market presence, whose work resonates with you, and whose process you feel comfortable following.
When you approach clients, use that.
When you’re just starting out, it definitely helps.
They ask how you’re going to get results, you explain how you will use that proven process.
SPECIAL NOTE: Don’t claim this as your own. That’s unethical. You should be absolutely clear and give credit where it is due. The thing is, most businesses will never hire the author of the book whose system you’re following (who charges as much for an hour as you charge for a month retainer) but they’re happy to have you use the system.
Remember the power of TESTING…
In the context of all of this, also remember that as a marketer, you can become a marketing genius without really knowing anything.
By that I mean, you can get incredible results without knowing what the market will respond to.
You simply have to be willing to test.
You have to be willing to try lots of things, things you expect to work, but let the market tell you what’s most effective.
You can spend months and years trying to come up with the best. Or you can run test after test, and keep doing what works, and stop doing what doesn’t.
If a client asks you how you know you can get results, tell them you don’t. But that you do know how to test things and figure out if they work on a reasonable budget, and then build on what works to create success.
This actually goes a long way to increasing your credibility, even if you have zero experience.
YES, admit you’re YOUNG and HUNGRY…
Again, I don’t want you to lie about your experience.
I want you to be honest about it.
No matter what your biological age is, if your entrepreneurial age is low, admit that you’re “young” in this business, and that you’re hungry to succeed.
Remember the Avis slogan: “We’re #2, so we try harder.”
You don’t have the experience. You don’t have the presence in the market. You don’t have an unlimited line of clients around the block.
So you’re going to make the most of every opportunity you have. You’re going to aim for creating massive success stories. And this client, in front of you now, stands to be the benefactor of your hunger to create big success.
Clients buy CONFIDENCE…
I put this way down deep, because confidence without anything I said above is empty, and leads to some very dark places.
I’m assuming you want to steer clear of that — and actually be ethical in what you do.
And yet, you absolutely need to remember: Clients will be most likely to do business with you when you are confident in all of the above.
Be confident you can get results. Be confident you’re following a good process. Be confident that with testing, you can find what works. Be confident that you’re young and hungry so you’ll put in the extra effort to achieve a big success.
Get ready to work your butt off. Get ready to try things that don’t work, until you find what does.
But if you’re willing to work hard enough, long enough, you should have every reason for confidence that you can help clients get results.
A handful of other thoughts…
Be ready to knock on a ton of doors…
When you are new, you have to make up for lack of experience and lack of resources with good old fashioned hard work. You’ll face more rejection. You will be turned down, a lot.
Keep reaching out to potential clients. Keep putting yourself out there. Connect with as many potential clients as possible. Have the conversations.
You really only need ONE good opportunity to go from zero experience to some experience. And from there, you can be off to the races.
Don’t avoid the bigger businesses…
I’ve often found that newbies aim a lot lower than they should. If a business doesn’t know what they’re selling yet, or doesn’t invest in advertising, they will be a headache. You need to work with businesses that have more resources, and have a track record of selling their products or services.
(There’s no surer way of finding failure than pursuing opportunities that have no other destination.)
Consider other ways to get experience…
It’s clear you want to build your business. It’s clear you want to get started by going out on your own.
Remember though that any experience can be a stepping stone toward that.
So, for example, you could get a full-time job that includes PPC work. (That’s what I did.)
You could also approach online agencies that do PPC work, tell them you’re young and hungry, and offer to help in whatever way you can, in exchange for the experience.
You could even build your own “sandbox” side project — selling your own products, or affiliate products — and run PPC campaigns for that.
Or you could do all of the above (barring any non-competes).
The most important advice?
Go out there and do something!
The faster you move away from “zero,” the better.
Once you have motion, you can build momentum and steer it in whatever direction makes the most sense.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a great way to start the conversation with clients, consider doing a “Pay-Per-Click Opportunity Analysis.” This is what I’m teaching in my Client-Getting Blueprint, and is the easiest, fastest way to get connected with a client and start the conversation about the results they want, and how you might be able to get it for them.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,