As a marketing consultant, what I am really selling is me. No, I don’t peddle prostitution, but as anyone who sells services and runs a small business knows: it’s often less about what you can deliver and more about you.
I’ve run my marketing firm for 10 years (happy birthday to
#1. Be Confident in Who You Are
Early on, I had to “fake it ’til I felt it” when it came to considering myself an expert at marketing. Potential clients would ask if I could do something, and I had to force myself to say yes rather than “I don’t have a clue how to do that! Why would you pay me to do it??”
My theory was that if I didn’t know how to do something, I’d learn. And this worked. So now I’ve got more than 10 years’ experience in marketing under my belt, and I know my sh#%. Present me with your business problem, and my brain starts working it like one of my son’s Rubik’s Cubes. In seconds, I spit out a marketing solution.
I’m not always right, but I am confident. And that attracts clients to my brand.
#2. Be Personable
When on the phone with potential business, I’m professional, sure, but I’m also friendly and approachable. We may banter about the weather (“why yes, it is beautiful here in San Diego right now!”) and I may make the odd joke. But most of all, I pay attention. If a contact mentions his kid’s soccer tournament this weekend, I’ll ask about it when I follow up. It’s so much more fun to be a little personal than to be businesslike robots all the time. And it’s that personality that fosters trust and brings business.
#3. Be Consistent
I’m not all over the place when it comes to my brand. I can summarize what I do in one sentence: I help small businesses with content. Read articles I write across different websites, look at my social profiles, and read my company blog, and you’ll get that message. Too many entrepreneurs try to be all things to all people, and it just confuses potential clients. Deliver a consistent message and anyone will know exactly what you offer.
#4. Own a Niche
This is a bit like #3, but even more specific. I have always specialized in marketing, but I used to offer much more in terms of services. Over the years, I’ve realized that I don’t enjoy offering Service A or that Service B is out of fashion, and so I’ve culled those to zero in on what I really do enjoy: writing blog content and ghostwriting books. The great thing is that the more specific you get with your niche, the more business you attract. As you beef up your experience in a very small circle of knowledge, you become the go-to person for that category.
#5. Be Fallible
We’re all human. We make mistakes. So why, in the business world, do we pretend that we don’t and instead point fingers at others? I’m sure errors don’t happen much in your business, but when they do, own up to them. Apologize. Then make it right. The client will remember how you made the situation better, not the mistake you made in the first place.
#6. Fawn Over Your Clients … in a Believable Way
Every year when my company celebrates its birthday, I send gifts to my clients. It’s a quirky tradition I started, that, I hope, my clients look forward to. It’s a way to celebrate this milestone together, since without my clients, I wouldn’t be celebrating at all. I also send gifts at Christmas. There’s a way to do this without looking like you’re kissing up to them. Consider the gift carefully; make it one they’ll be happy to receive and use, not some promotional drivel. Even a handwritten card can hit the spot.
#7. Be Honest When You Can’t Help
New entrepreneurs might take on projects they have no business handling just because they’re desperate for money. But I have gotten into the habit of telling potential business that I can’t help them. I want to make sure every client I onboard is aligned with my focus. If it’s outside of that scope, I just can’t do it justice. They deserve someone who specializes in what they need, not someone who just wants their money. If I can, I refer them to another professional who can help.
#8. Have Help So You Can Spend More Time Being You
I’m so fortunate to have several amazing writers and the best blog editor a girl could ask for. What this does is keeps me from worrying about (or having to handle) our company blog and some client work so that I can focus on specific clients that I like to write for, as well as bringing in new ones with my winning personality. Having a well-oiled machine with the right team is essential for growing your business, and I highly recommend it.
#9. Ask Your Clients Why They Like You
Years ago I sent out a survey that more or less asked clients why they hired my business. While I thought I knew the answer to that, I got some interesting replies. This is important because this is how your clients see you and your brand. You may not even be aware of their perceptions, but you can use them to your advantage once you understand them. For example, several people commented on my super prompt delivery of projects. That became a selling point that has won me more business.
#10. It’s Okay if Not Everyone Likes You
Some people may not warm up to your personality, and that’s okay. It’s not you; it’s chemistry. You want to only work with clients who are a joy to work with, who you’d hang out with even if they didn’t pay you (okay, that might be going a tad overboard, but you get my point). If it’s becoming a struggle to work with a particularly difficult client, don’t be afraid to drop them. You’re an entrepreneur because you want to control who you work with and love what you do. You can’t do that if you’re battling wills every day.
The good news is: it’s easy to be yourself! Leverage that, and you’ll grow your business.
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