If you’ve been around in consulting, coaching, training or any profession for a while you’ll know that bringing on board a steady flow of clients is often the most difficult job you’ve got.
It’s especially true for those of us who don’t feel like we’re natural salespeople or super-slick marketers.
So no matter how great we are at what we do, or how much value we have to bring to clients, we often find ourselves frustrated, overwhelmed, confused at all the options, unsure what will really work for us and questioning whether this whole marketing thing actually works at all.
That was certainly my experience when I started running my own business.
And that's in spite the fact that in my time working for big consulting firms I primarily advised corporate clients on marketing and sales.
A bit crazy really. But marketing feels very different when you have to do it all yourself and you don't have a big brand behind you.
I tried all sorts of things to try to bring clients in.
Networking, presentations, SEO, Google Adwords, blogging, emailing, even a bit of cold calling and eventually webinars and social media.
I was lucky.
A couple of things I did paid off.
Looking back I can see clearly why they did (and I'll be explaining that shortly) . But at the time it all seemed like some weird kind of slot machine where you pulled the handle and if you were very, very lucky the bells went off and a client popped out.
And frankly, the advice I was listening to at the time didn't help.
Not that the advice was wrong, per se. Just that it was focused on tactics and shortcuts.
One week I was seduced by the idea of getting clients on autopilot from ads and webinars. The next I was listening to a guy tell me about how he was earning 6 figures a month from Linkedin and I switched to copying his techniques.
And inevitably, if you jump from "shortcut" to "hack" to "secret backdoor technique" you're never going to make progress. Especially if you don’t have a solid marketing system to slot those tactics into.
In the next few pages I'm going to show you the system I discovered that's worked for me year-in, year-out since then.
The tactics have changed, but the system and the principles behind it have remained the same.
Get those principles wrong and the best tactics in the world won't help you (which is why they weren't working for me despite aggressively learning from some of the biggest names in marketing).
Get them right, and you don't need to be brilliant at the tactics. And you don't need to spend all your time obsessing over marketing.
But before we start, I have to issue a health warning...
What I'm about to suggest won't suit everyone.
It takes hard work to implement these principles. You'll have to invest time to create assets that your potential clients value.
And you have to play the long game. Your goal is to build high-trust relationships with potential clients who come to see you as a trusted advisor and expert in your field. That won't happen overnight.
Of course, there'll be quick wins and little victories along the way. And there are things you can do to ensure you start turning your hard work into paying clients as soon as possible.
But you have to start with a long-term mindset. You have to realise that the tricks and hacks and silver bullets that get pushed at you every day will never bring you the long term success you're looking for.
If you're up for that, let's get going.
If you're not. If you really believe there's a quick fix for getting more clients consistently. A tool or technique that you can switch on without making important changes to the way you think and work; then there are plenty of people who'll be happy to sell that to you.
But not here.
We're going to do what needs to be done, even if it takes some work and it's challenging at times.
OK, so rant over...got a bit carried away there.
If you're here I'm going to assume you're serious about getting this whole marketing thing sorted so that you can bring in great clients consistently and for the long-term.
So let's start by meeting someone else with the same goals...
Hi - I'm Mark.
I'm a strategy consultant and I work with clients on their big, important priorities.
Stuff like scenario planning. Setting business goals. Analysing competitors and figuring out how to beat them.
I love this kind of work. Been doing it ever since I left general management and joined one of the big 4 consultancy firms over a decade ago.
Then a couple of years ago - when the travel got too much (and the bureaucracy began to grind just a bit too much too) I left to set up my own firm.
I did really well early on. I had some good contacts from previous clients who got back in touch (thank you Linkedin!).
And a couple of ex-colleagues passed work my way. Not always the stuff I wanted to focus on, but it paid the bills.
But then about 9 months ago things began to dry up.
I guess I exhausted the work from previous clients. And although I've been doing a lot of networking locally, it just hasn't resulted in any big pieces of work yet.
My website's not done much either.
It looks good (it should do for the amount I paid for it). But the handful of enquiries I've had from it haven't resulted in anything.
I'm getting my name out there regularly on social media. Posting testimonials and my 'elevator pitch'. But that's not doing much either.
I've tried writing articles on Linkedin and blogging for a bit. Even did some videos and a livestream.
I just can't seem to find "hot leads" at networking events or online. I know if I can get in front of people who are looking for help with strategy then I can convince them I'm a good choice.
I just can't seem to find them.
I've tried tapping up my network too, but now it feels like I'm nagging and pushing them too much. I can't see the goodwill lasting much longer and I don't want to come across like I'm desperate.
So in truth, I'm probably not following-up anywhere near as regularly or systematically as I should be.
And at the end of the day, time is a big issue.
I bought a course on Linkedin marketing recently but gave up as it needed me to connect to dozens of people a day, send them messages asking them about their business, reply to their replies (thankfully there weren't many), ask them if they wanted to get on a call...
...all sorts of stuff that took way too much time.
So right now I'm just not sure what to do.
I reckon I've got about 6 months left before the savings and the money I got in my first year run out and I'm going to have to start looking to go back into employment.
I really don't want to. Feels like it would be a huge admission of failure. And at my age I'm just not certain I can jump back on the ladder again.
But I'm not sure what choice I have...
Sound a bit familiar?
Mark isn't a real person of course. He's an amalgam of my own experiences and those of colleagues and clients who've all been through something similar.
But Mark's struggles are very real. Thousands upon thousands of good people experience something similar every day, trying to succeed in their business.
His heart is absolutely in the right place. He's got a lot to offer clients. He's happy to work hard to win them.
But he's doing the wrong things. And more importantly, he's thinking about marketing wrongly (much as I did).
If you recognise a little bit of yourself in Mark then what you're about to learn will help you. If you find yourself flipping from tactic to tactic and having a little bit of success only to find it's just temporary then Mark's journey and the solutions that will help him may well help you too.
If Mark wants to succeed and avoid having to go back to paid employment, he needs to make a big shift in his thinking and in the way he does marketing.
Click continue to find out what that big shift is...
© 2019 Ian Brodie