Updated: Sep 18, 2020
If you are in your first few years of a service-based business, securing your next client can often seem overwhelming. Should you focus on social platforms, your website, writing a blog, physical mailings, networking, speaking engagements...or all of it?
While there are many ways to reach your next client, there are usually only a handful of ways that will work well for you and your business.
The first step in getting your next client is to think about your thinking. The goal in this exercise is to identify the assumptions we have about marketing and securing clients.
For example, do we believe that “likes” equal customers? Do we think that ranking on the first page of Google will mean that we can close the deal? Or, if we just have enough content... followers…web traffic...then, we will get hired!
None of this is bad or good or right or wrong. But, we need to know what we are thinking (and believing) before we take the next step.
Action Step 1:Think about your thinking as it relates to your service-based business.
What do you believe you need to do to secure your next client? Don’t think too hard, just make a list of 4-5 things that pop into your head when thinking about securing your next client.
Then, write down your assumptions and the beliefs (like the ones above) that go with them. Again, no judgment here, just be aware of the thoughts you are thinking!
Actions Step 2: Write down all of your clients and where they came from.
Next, we need to look back. If we do not know how we secured our past current clients, we have no real data on the best strategies for the next ones.
If you have been in business for more than 2 years, just write down those clients from the last 12 months. No need to be crazy specific, but look at data, don’t just go with your gut.
Once you have them written down, develop some categories such as paid ads, email marking, networking events, personal referral, etc. and put each of your clients into a category. How do you get most of your clients? Are you surprised by what the data revealed?
Action Step 3: Look at your numbers and then go back to your assumptions. Do they match? Where do they differ?
Whatever is working, celebrate it!
Now that we know where we have been getting clients, we can look forward. One thing I find with business owners in their first couple of years of business is the desire to continue to try new things. At the start, this rapid iteration can be helpful. But once you have found some ways that work, you need step 4:
Action Step 4:Think about how you can replicate the ways you have secured clients.
Are you spending money on paid ads when 80% of your clients come from referrals within your current network? Or, are seeing success with paid ads and just feel like you should be doing more?
Spend some time looking at the data and finding ways to strengthen, and replicate, what is already working. This will be, quite simply, the shortest route to your next client.
Action Step 5: As you replicate, become an expert.
Look at your top 1-3 ways of acquiring clients. Think about the wins you have had in these areas. How did you do it? What have you learned? What more do you need to do to master them? Can you increase your ROI on ad spend? Can you figure out what specific characteristics makes a great referral partner? What specific content are people responding to and how can you create more?
As you dive deeper into evaluating your thoughts, looking at the data, and starting to make a plan, the greatest danger to your success is trying to do too much. Stay focused on what is working and set aside the things that are not.
In the end, I hope this process will bring freedom. Freedom from doing ‘all’ the things, to doing the right things.
Amy Lynne Coaching is a business coach that works with small business owners and solo entrepreneurs in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.