It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

This is probably the most consistent request I get…

How to get more clients.  The question comes in many forms.  But it all boils down to this…

“I need more business.  I need more customers.  I need more new, warm bodies through the door, who are likely to give me money.”

Rightly so.  It’s the #1 issue in any business.

So today I’m answering that question again, but hopefully from a different angle and perspective that may help you in your nonstop quest.

Remember, it’s Monday, which means it’s Mailbox Monday.  That’s the day I answer YOUR questions.  The queue is a bit long right now, but if you’d like to add your question to it, simply click here.

Today’s question…

My biggest need is acquisition of accounts.

After 24 years of working in corporate radio I am starting my own advertising agency.

Thank you,

– S

There are really two primary strategies to get more clients…

And while my answers reflect my readership and will mostly talk about marketing consulting (or copywriting, or ad agency services), this applies to pretty much any business…

— Hyper-targeting…

— Hyper-education…

Each has their pros and cons.  Either can work.  The question is, what will work best for you.

I’ll do a quick breakdown of each here, including what it is, the pros and cons, where it works best, and a simple explanation of how to do it for you.

Then, you can decide where you’d like to go deeper.

How to get clients through hyper-targeting…

What it is…

You ONLY pursue the most qualified prospects.  They’re typically in one or a couple small industry verticals.  They’ve typically hired people like you before.  Some do it frequently.  And typically because it’s a specialty skill, they pay well.

Pros…

You tend to have higher-paying clients.  There’s little argument about what it is you do, or how you do it, because they’re used to working with people like you.  They’re easy to find.  The sales cycle is short, and it’s typically an easy sell (at least once you’ve got chops).

Cons…

You’re typically talking a very small market.  This involves picking a small niche and going deep.  There may not be any near you, so you may have to either move or make it work to work remote.

Where it works best…

I’ll use financial copywriting as an example.  There are a few main companies in the space.  They regularly hire copywriters to write long-form direct response.  They pay well, and have a process for working with us.  They’re easy to find.  And they need more copywriters all the time.  Once you have skill, you basically just need to say, “I do that,” and they’re overwhelmingly likely to give you a shot.

How to do it…

Get REALLY specific about who you’d like to work with.  The smaller the niche or group of potential clients, the better.  Once upon a time I created a spreadsheet of 20 or so financial publishers who I wanted to work with, specifically that were NOT the Agora divisions I knew wanted in-house writers in Baltimore or Florida.  (Much of my business in the almost a decade since I created that list has come from the companies on it.)

Find out how to get in front of people who can give you gigs.  This can be the owner.  Or in a bigger company, there’s likely a manager inside the marketing/advertising department that handles relationships with outside firms.  This may involve going to meet them (such as at conferences they attend) or it could involve simply reaching out (such as through LinkedIn).

Your goal is to simply establish yourself in their mind as someone who provides a service that THEY REGULARLY HIRE FOR.  That’s the important bit.  And then simply make yourself available to try if they ever have the need come up for more work.

Write something like, “Hey I write back-end promos for financial publishers.  Do you ever need more copy written than you can handle in-house?  Love to chat sometime if I can help.”

Note it’s informal, not pushy, and it speaks insider language.  That’s critically important for this strategy.  You’re not selling hard.  You’re a peer who has a known solution to a known problem, and you’re simply offering it.

If you’re brand new to the industry and you still need to prove yourself, you may need to aim lower and get some jobs that are equivalent to sweeping the floor, to build your chops.  But the good news is that specific niches like this that highly-value their marketing people will provide ample opportunity to grow your business by doing higher and higher-valued services for them.  (e.g. Jake Hoffberg teaches new financial copywriters to break into the niche by writing short-form advertorials and similar copy, more details here.)

The goal here is to simply put yourself on the radar of the right people.  Reach out in an informal way that makes you feel more like a peer than a punk, and just have a few chats.  Do it regularly and it WILL move the needle.

How to get clients through hyper-education…

What it is…

You teach clients why they need you and how to use you first.  Then, they decide to do business with you.  This typically involves a longer sales-based education process, but allows you to go wider with your audience.

Pros…

You have a much wider audience.  This typically allows for more scale.  It can also allow you to sell a less specialized service that can often be fulfilled by staff or junior consultants, not just your top experts.

Cons…

The sales cycle is longer and harder.  It tends to require a bit more resources.  You’re often dealing with people who don’t really understand you.  And you’ll deal with a lot more prospects who are much harder to convince.

Where it works best…

If your service is more generic or needs a wide variety of clients to work best, it’s probably a better fit for this.  For example, my friendly correspondent talked about working in radio.  If you simply wanted to make radio ads for local businesses, you’d probably need to follow this approach.  The audience is broad, doesn’t necessarily regularly hire for the service, and would likely need some education on how to buy.  (Alternately, maybe there’s a specific niche that you could create radio ads for on a national basis, who tends to do more on the radio.  In which case you might go for something closer to the first approach.)

How to do it…

First you need to clearly define the outcome you’re able to get for clients.  What is it they want, that you can provide?  The more clear you are on this, the more you can get the desired reaction of, “Oh, that’s exactly what I need!”  Which will help them engage with the education you’re about to provide.

Next, you need to establish yourself through your marketing as the provider of that outcome.  Let’s use lead generation as an example.  Specifically, let’s say you specialize in selling services to the 55+ crowd.  You might attract attention with a headline along the lines of, “Does your business serve the 55+ market?  We’ll help you connect with more qualified 55+ customers faster, easier, more cost-effectively…”  Then, promise a piece of value-driven content that can fulfill on this.

Here there’s a fork in the road.  Sometimes you can charge for this education.  Other times you might do it for free.  Charging can range from having a book that establishes your expertise (a really good idea) through having full programs, coaching, etc.

Either way, your goal is to basically teach everything you do.  What?  Isn’t that giving away your skills?  Yes, and no.  They will always assume that if you taught it, you can do it better than them.  By providing a ton of value up front, you’ll simply position yourself as the expert on the topic.  Some people will simply consume your content and want to do it themselves, but others will automatically seek you out and ask you to do it for them.

Finally, you want to make sure you’re consistently giving them a way to raise their hand and reach out to you to hire you.  That is, nearly every value-driven communication will also include a call-to-action to schedule a consultation with you (or your sales team).

There’s a lot to how to do this right, far more than I can cover here, but it’s definitely the best approach for going for colder audiences that require more to help them understand how to benefit from what you do before they hire you.

What’s best for you?

Well, you’ll have to make some decisions, and move forward based on that.

And, importantly, experiment.  Come at it with curiosity, and a desire to find out what works.  Early in any business, figuring out how to get customers in a scalable, repeatable way is the most important thing you can do.  And it’s different for every business.

Oh yeah, and have some fun with it.  Don’t take it too seriously, or you’ll put off an energy that’s repellent to new prospects.  Have fun and play a little though, and people will want to be around you.  Which will lead to getting more clients!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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