Do you work with your ideal clients?

When someone asks you who your clients are, is your answer something like, ‘anyone with a pulse and a cheque book’?

If it is, I’m going to let you into a secret. No matter how hard you try, you are always going to struggle to grow your business. You might think that trying to attract every sort of client to your business is a great way of getting more clients to work with you. But that’s not true. Trying to work with every different kind of business means that you will always be chasing everyone you meet, working hard to persuade them to work with you. It means that you will agree to work with clients who don’t really value what you do and how much you want to charge. They will beat you down on price and then want everything done really quickly. They won’t recommend you to other businesses, because they don’t think you’re that special.

Do you still want to work with clients like that?

Your perfect clients are the ones who come and find you. They want exactly what you want to offer them and they want to pay what you want to charge. They are a joy to work with and they always recommend you to other businesses. But there is a trick to finding them. Nearly every consultant or coach that starts a business begins by doing whatever comes along. The idea of sitting around waiting for people to come to you is a strange one, but it’s one that you need to understand. When you know who your perfect clients are and what you want to offer them, you’ll be able to attract them to you, instead of having to chase after them. You can save time by focusing your attention on only working with clients who really appreciate what you do and who pay you what you’re worth. You can save money by only marketing to your perfect clients and you can make more money from working with them.

Do you know who your ideal clients are? Are you working with them or putting up with not-so-perfect clients?

This is an exerpt from my new book about Marketing Planning, which will be published on 16 November 2011.  Pre-launch orders now being taken – click here to reserve your copy.

Advertisements

Where do your clients hang out?

If you know who your ideal clients are – the people that you really want to work with, who will love working with you – you need to think about where they hang out. When you know this, you can put your marketing messages in places where they will see them and respond to them. If you just splash your messages everywhere, your prospective clients will see them, but so will hundreds of other people that you don’t want to work with – most of your effort and money will be wasted. Putting your messages in places where your prospects won’t see them will waste your effort and money too.

For example, if you provide weight loss advice to people who want to get fitter and live a healthier lifestyle, leaving a brochure in a pub won’t bring you many enquiries – if any. You will have more success if you leave that same brochure in a doctor’s surgery.

If you specialize in helping women become more successful and assertive at work, promoting your business in magazines aimed at men will be a waste of time.

For ideal clients over a certain age, will they see your message on the internet? More and more people are going online, regardless of their age, but you still need to know where on the internet they spend time. What other products and services are they looking for? Which websites do they visit?

Where do your clients hang out? Write a list of everywhere your clients ‘could’ spend time and divide the list into the places they do hang out and the places don’t. Are you putting your marketing messages in the right places?

This is an exerpt from my new book about Marketing Planning, which will be published on 16 November 2011.  Pre-launch orders now being taken – click here to reserve your copy.

How do you create a consistent brand? Try Electric Hair!

What does having electric hair have to do with creating a consistent brand for your business?

Electric Hair was set up by Mark Woolley, whose aim is for the business to become known as the best hair dressing brand in the UK. With salons in London, Brighton and Reading, the Oxford salon was opened earlier this year. As with all the other salons, the building has been bought by the business, which means it can be done up in a similar way to the other salons. When you walk in, you recognise the slick, modern decor of the other salons.

The team at Oxford have been handpicked and is lead by Louise, who used to work at the Reading salon; she lives and breathes the essence of Electric. Under her guidance, her staff are welcoming – you get a drink on arrival and a consultation, to discuss what you need. Like Mark, Louise is keen to develop her staff and help them achieve their goals. Her goal was to run a salon and with Mark’s support, she’s now doing it. If any of her team wants the same, she’ll inspire them to get there.

Does it matter if your hair is washed the same way each time to go to the hairdresser? Maybe not to everyone, but it is nice to know what you’re going to get. With Electric you know that you’ll get a great haircut (that looks better for longer than your previous hairdresser managed!) You know that you won’t get silly ideas about hair styles that don’t suit you, or outrageous colours you don’t like. You know that you’ll be treated as an individual and given the time you need, with personal care and interest in you. You’ll get the same treatment if you walk into any of the salons.

Creating a consistent brand is not about putting your logo on everything. It’s much bigger than that. It’s about treating your customers the way they want to be treated and about always treating them the same way, so that they know what they will get from you, each time they have any contact with them.

What can you do to create a consistent brand and give your clients the best experience you can?

I can’t write a book – what would I write about?

Did you know that 95% of people who think about writing a book never get around to it? That’s a lot of unfulfilled dreams and ideas.

But did you know that writing a book is just about giving? This means that a book is about sharing your ideas and your advice; it’s about writing about what you know about.

I recently suggested to one of my clients that she should write a book. After she’d stopped laughing, she said, “What on earth would I write about and who would want to read it anyway?”

The client in question, Debbie, is a riding instructor who works with people and their own horses, helping them to develop better relationships. It’s not about teaching people to ride, but about helping her clients to train themselves and their horses to the next level of fitness and performance. It’s a bit like a sportsman having a coach who helps him with the next competition; or the business coach who helps her clients achieve greater success – whatever that might look like. A great deal of Debbie’s work is also based around the psychology of riding and how the way riders think affects the way they ride.

So to answer the first question – what do I write about? My suggestion to Debbie was that she writes about some of her clients and the training they’ve been through. She works with a huge range of people and horses, so I suggested a series of case studies to highlight different issues and the different – all successful – results they’ve achieved. Debbie actually enjoys writing, so that won’t be a problem; for people who don’t like writing, a series of case studies can easily be produced by interviewing people and transcribing the interviews.

And question two – who will want to read it? I asked Debbie how many happy clients she has, who would like to know more about training themselves and their horses. She has dozens and all of them would buy her book – especially if they’re signed! In addition, the number of horses in the UK is huge. (According to the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) survey of 2066 there were 1.35 million in the UK.) Take off of few for the people who own more than one horse; remove a few professional riders who have written their own books and you’re left with a vast number of ordinary people who love their horses, ride for fun and would love a book that can, practically, help them improve their riding and develop a better relationship with their horse – without spending a fortune on an expensive course or ‘horse whisperer’.

The good news is that having answered Debbie’s two concerns, she’s giving it a go and is going to write the book! We’re starting with a half day planning session at the end of September and once we’ve done that, I’ll write another blog to update you on progress. If you’re a horse rider who would like to read Debbie’s book, let me know! Once we have the outline, we’ll put details of the book onto her website at www.Gain-field.co.uk with details of how to order a pre-launch copy.

Is there a book in you? Do you know what you could write about and the ideas and advice that you could share? Even if you don’t have the answers to the questions, if you’d like to write a book, get in touch by leaving a comment and ask about our new Book Consultancy service.

Facebook – Is it really the modern day business necessity?

When you first started your business, print media was probably your main marketing concern. Not very long ago, it wasn’t entirely unusual for a business not to be online. To interact with your customers, the internet wasn’t your only option. But now, things have changed. Not only is the internet everywhere, we’re expected to always be connected. Social media is getting bigger, and wise businesses are using it to their advantage.

The average Facebook user spends 23 minutes each visit, and 70% of local businesses use Facebook for marketing. How can you communicate with your target market? Facebook is modern-day equivalent of the telephone book. It holds so much personal information that you can quite specifically get in touch with your market, right down to gender, location and age range. Facebook isn’t just a place for adverts, there are many uses for it – and it’s a brilliant way you can build a relationship with your consumers. You can use a Facebook page to promote and test new products, and you can use it to sell products or content directly using Facebook credits. Marketing is about selling yourself, a personality; not just a product. Facebook is one of the best ways to communicate that, as a business you can find yourself getting the same access to an individual as their friends or family.

There are many examples of people using Facebook third party for their businesses, and utilising the platform partnerships e.g. the business creating the advertisement or application, and Facebook selling the space or the ‘platform’ necessary to promote and effectively use it. For a lot of service providers, it’s another platform – just one with potential access to thousands of people. There are 600million users on Facebook as of January 2011. It’s illogical not to be a part of it. Facebook has been around for years, and immortalised in film. It’s not just a passing fad, the words “Find Us On Facebook!” are everywhere. You see it on a twitter page, on a website, on a blog, on email signatures and even print media and leaflets. It’s quite possibly the most effective and accessible call to action for this generation. Not being on Facebook is like saying your business doesn’t have a phone, but you can still get in touch via your pager.

The internet isn’t everything, and only focussing your marketing online would be a mistake. Good businesses have a presence in more than one forum. What about those people who don’t go online? The people who still don’t understand what the words ‘social media’ mean? If all of your customers are technophobes, then perhaps heavy investment into your Facebook page may not be the way to go. In that case, understandably, you’d focus your marketing elsewhere. But even in your print media, you’d want to make a reference to your online social media, because you never know who is going to see it.

Facebook isn’t a business necessity, but most definitely is a modern day necessity.

15 Ways to Give your Business an Unfair Advantage – Part Two

 Here are some great tips I read recently in Real Business Magazine. Click here to read part one; part three to follow soon!

6. Put social media at the heart of your business

“Social media isn’t just about marketing – you have to try and develop your entire business culture around it, “Explains Andrew Gerrard, a social and digital media consultant at Exeter-based Like Minds. Social media should become a part of everything that you do: your business strategy, objectives, customers, growth plan. “Develop yourself as a social business rather than an organisation that does ‘a bit of social media marketing’. This will leave you in a better position to engage with your customers, and it will drive your business forward and the profits up.”

7. Get ready for the cloud revolution

“In the future, all of your devices will exist in the cloud,” predicts Dan Dobley, marketing director at Google. “If you lose your notebook computer, you’ll just be able to pick up a new one and start where you left off, instantly.” The cloud computing market is still in its infancy, and opportunities for entrepreneurs are vast in this space. IDC predicts that spending on public IT cloud services will hit £46bn in 2015 (up from £13.4bn in 2010). Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple – they’re all at it. Make sure you’re there too.

8. Don’t hid away in your ivory tower

“Every year, Specsavers holds 95 retail communication meetings to update our partners on the latest strategies and to hear what’s happening in the stores,” says Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers. If things aren’t as they should be, she makes sure they’re dealt with as a priority. Keeping lines of communication open with all 1,600 stores has had remarkable results: Specsavers has never had to close a single shop and the company is entirely debt free.

9. When exporting, ask for your money upfront

“If you have a good enough product, someone will pay for it upfront – just make sure they do,” says Lara Morgan, the founder of Pacific Direct, the toiletries business she sold for £20m in 2008 . Getting your money upfront will make it easier for you to grow your international business. “There’s no excuse not to export. People put up unnecessary barriers, and that’s a waste of time. Just get on a plane!”

10. Future-proof your business plan

When starting a business or launching a project, remember to factor in how long it will take to get there. “Technology will move on significantly, and users will move with it,” explains Google’s Dobley. “Design your business plan for the future that will exist when you launch it. It will leave you in a much better position to delight your users and win.” Google believes the future is mobile, so it now builds all of its apps on mobile first, before porting them to other platforms afterwards.

Where do your clients hang out?

When you know who your ideal clients are – the people that you really want to work with, who will love working with you – to get your marketing message to them, you need to think about where they hang out. When you know this, you can put your marketing messages in places where they will see them and respond to them. If you just splash your messages everywhere, your prospective clients will see them, but so will hundreds of other people that you don’t want to work with, so most of your effort and money will be wasted. Putting your messages in places where your prospects won’t see them will waste your effort and money too.

To figure out where your clients hang out, think about who your perfect clients are and what makes them tick. Combine these with the products and services that you want to provide and you’ll get a picture of who these people are and where they hang out.

For example, if you provide weight loss advice to people who want to get fitter and live a healthier lifestyle, leaving a brochure in a pub won’t bring you many enquiries – if any. You will have more success if you leave that same brochure in a doctor’s surgery.

If you specialize in helping women become more successful and assertive at work, promoting your business in magazines aimed at men will be a waste of time.

For ideal clients over a certain age, will they see your message on the internet? More and more people are going online, regardless of their age, but you still need to know where on the internet they spend time. What other products and services are they looking for? Which websites do they visit?

 Where do your clients hang out? Make a list of everywhere your clients ‘could’ spend time and another list of places where they don’t hang out. For instance, your clients might hang out at industry specific networking events, but not at trade exhibitions. Once you’ve got your list, make sure you only put your marketing messages in places where your clients hang out and you will save yourself a lot of time and effort.