Bad advice on how to get clients (plus something helpful you can do right now)
I’ve gotta vent today (I’ll also share something useful with you). Let me explain. I ran across an article on freelancing today that really irritated me, and I’ll share exactly why I got steamed. First, I happened across the article, “7 Steps to Launch Your Freelancing Career Full-Time,” on Entrepreneur.com, hoping to see some helpful advice on how to get clients.
But, way down at #6, was the tip: “Secure a few clients” and a dozen words of advice that you should get referrals from friends, family, and colleagues.
Why’d that get me so irritated?
Well, nearly every single day, I get emails from readers who are struggling with how to get clients. The basic email goes something like this:
I’ve decided to start my consulting business, but have no idea how to go about finding clients. Help!
There are literally THOUSANDS of people (and my hunch is you’re in this boat too) who desperately want to build a profitable consulting/freelance business, but can’t get any or enough clients.
And the advice given? “Go get some clients.”
It’s like saying, “If you want to start a business, get some customers.”
Getting clients is…
Now, getting clients almost never is as easy as asking family, friends, and colleagues. Sure, sometimes you can land a gig that way.
But if you can’t sell to a stranger, then your business is dependent on the kindness of your inner circle.
You might as well be hawking product like:
- Pampered Chef
- and 1,000+ other MLM companies
that depend on your circle of acquaintances for your customer base.
For freelancing/consulting, depending on your circle of acquaintances for your customer base guarantees your business will be relegated to a hobby, not a full-time income that allows you to ditch your day job.
For most people, the struggle with how to get clients is:
- confusing, and
How to get clients: step 1
If other people won’t tell you this, I will: getting clients is a multi-step process. Plus, it can be hard.
It’s especially hard if:
- you don’t know what to do,
- you don’t know where to start,
- you’re doing the wrong things, or
- you have internal barriers that get in the way of taking action.
Yes, it’s easier to say: “go get clients.”
But I’m OK being brutally honest.
I know that honest guidance is what’s going to help you create real results.
OK, step 1 for getting clients: clarify is exactly, and very specifically, who your ideal client is.
No, your ideal clients are not:
- small & medium sized businesses
- accounting firms
- people interested in wellness
- dog owners
Those are WAY too general.
Here’s what good examples of ideal client profiles look like:
- privately-owned aerospace manufacturing companies with between $10-$100 million in annual sales
- white-collar service businesses doing at least $10 million in sales, with a high employee turnover rate
- single-family-home construction companies with more than 50 employees who have at least a 1/2-page yellow pages ad
- law firms who use XYZ case management software, with between 10 – 50 attorneys (this was the niche I started with)
What do you notice?
Each of those ideal client profiles is VERY specific, and includes several qualifiers:
- annual sales
- # of employees
- other specific qualifiers (what software they use, their employee turnover rate, their advertising spend)
Why should you be so specific?
When you get very specific with who you’re targeting, it becomes MUCH easier to find those prospects.
What’s more, they’ll have much more specific problems that you can help solve.
You’ll also have less competition in a smaller, more targeted niche than if you target a very broad market.
How big a problem is getting clients for you?
I doubt you have more business than you can handle.
Fact is, you’re likely at a loss for how to get clients.
So how big a problem is it for you? On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the worst), how much are you struggling to get clients?
Email me or comment below right now. Are you at a 5? A 4? What?
Also, let me know:
- what you’ve tried so far to get clients, and
- what results you’ve gotten (if any).