The truth is, there is no shortcut to getting better clients. Sorry to disappoint you so early on in our relationship. However, there IS a process you can follow. So while everyone else is chasing the next shiny object, you can focus on setting yourself up for success. This takes a little bit of work and a little bit of time, but it works. I promise.
In this post I'm going to help you:
- Get clear about your value offering
- Differentiate yourself from everyone else
- Avoid wasting time on clients who are just wrong
- Start finding the right clients.
Sound good? Let's get started.
Who Do You Serve?
I've written about this before. The key to building a great business is to only work with clients who absolutely love us and love what we do. It’s how you get referrals and eliminate the usual stress that goes along with client work. It's also how you add massive value, which is the only way to get paid higher fees.
So, how can you define the work that you love doing? How can you find clients who love you? How can you make them real and get them out of your head and into real life?
With Web Design and Web Development rapidly becoming a commodity, you cannot compete on price. You need to work out how you are different from everyone else, otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom with clients who are price shopping and designers who are discounting to get the gig. Not all clients are right for you! You should know when to pass the ill-fitting clients off.
What are you good at and what do you enjoy?
Building your own business is hard work. Around 80% of startups and small businesses fail within the first 2 years. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.
Writing something down gets it out of your head and body and makes it real. So take out a piece of paper and divide it into two columns; Skills and Passion.
In the Skills column, write down what your skills are, where you’re really strong. And BE HONEST about it.
For instance, I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m a good designer. I’m good with people and understanding a client's problem and designing an overall solution. Your job is to work out what you are the most skillful at and what you are most passionate about.
You can repeat over and over that you want to be a millionaire one day. But write it down on paper and you have to confront that voice in your head. Then, you can either dismiss it, deal with it, or action it and bring it to life.
Now write down everything that you LOVE doing, everything that you’re passionate about. Even if you’re really bad at it. For me, it's design. I love it, but I suck at it.
If you’re good at it, write about it on the Skills column, regardless of whether or not you love it. If you’re passionate about it, write it in the Passions column, regardless of whether or not you’re good at it.
Your Sweet Spot
Combine the two. Find what’s common between your Skills and Passion. Maybe you love SEO and you’re really good at it. That’s great! Be honest with yourself about these answers. Find where your skills and passion overlap.
Now write down the five things you want to do in your business over the next couple of years. The five things that you’re really good at and passionate about. There are no rules, restrictions or impossibilities.
One of the 5 things that I’m really is good at and love doing is presenting. So I want to present more all around the world. So what are the five things that you’re good at and love that you want to do in your business over the next 2-3 years?
What Benefits Do You Offer?
If you’re really good at SEO and it’s also what you love doing, ask yourself what benefit that offers someone. Whoever you work with will probably end up with more visitors to their website than they had before. Since you’re good at it and love doing it, you’re going to be more devoted to this area.
The benefit is not SEO; that’s the feature. The benefit is that the person you work with is going to end up with more human beings visiting their website, which should result in more leads and sales.
Remember, you don’t have to do these exercises if you don’t want to. But if you don’t, nothing will change. So take out your piece of paper and write “Benefits” at the top.
List all the benefits that your clients will receive when you use your skills and your passions.
Who Benefits the Most?
Who stands to benefit the most from what it is you have to offer? List everyone who could possibly benefit from the skills and passion and benefits that you offer.
Example: I’m good at helping nonprofits get more email addresses off their websites. So nonprofits benefit the most. But who exactly? The campaign manager or marketing director who is probably getting heat from the boss about losing regular donors and increasing their donor database.
Bring Them To Life
Marketing Manager, Campaign Manager; these are just titles, not human beings. We’re going to borrow a formula from John Janstch, author of Duct Tape Marketing. (Thank you John!)
Here’s how to bring your new potential client to life:
Physical Description + What They Want + Biggest Problem + How They Buy + Best Way to Communicate
Now, take out a sheet of paper and you guessed, write it down
- Physical Description – gives a name, a place, a title.
- What They Want – their outcome, what they desire.
- Biggest Problem – what’s stopping them from getting what they want (hopefully you can help!).
- How They Buy and How They’re Influenced
- Best Way To Communicate – If they don’t spend any time online, your blogging is not the best way to communicate. Figure out the best way to communicate to this specific person.
So now you have a client profile card. We’ll call our example perfect client “Jenny”.
Jenny is a marketing manager at a medium-sized nonprofit in the Chicago area (physical description). She is recruiting new ambassadors for their cause and is overwhelmed with tactics but lacks a coherent online strategy (that’s what she wants and her problem). Jenny is influenced by the opinions of her peers and spends a lot of time online researching new ideas to try and attract influencers to her organisation (how she buys and the best way to communicate).
Now everything we do is for Jenny. Every blog post, tweet, conference, tutorial. It’s all designed for Jenny.
I'd love to hear if this is helpful to you or if you have any questions.