The very first client I got, exactly 15 years ago this month, came through a leap of confidence. Having recently met, the guy asked me, “so what do you do Brook?”
I could have responded, “I was working in Public Relations, but took a sideways step into publishing because I thought I wanted to be a journalist. But it turned out to be a terrible decision and I was managed out of a job. I’m thinking about starting my own business but I’m not sure. I’m probably too young.
“So yeah, I don’t really know what I’m doing right now.”
But I didn’t say that. It was the truth, but it didn’t feel good to think about, let alone say.
Instead, I told another truth. “I’m a writer.”
To which he replied, “I’m looking for a writer.” He became my first client and stayed with me for the next three years.
Why do people choose your business?
Thanks to the joys of that internet, we have plenty of options of who to work with. We’re inundated with choice – and that’s not necessarily a good thing when you’re wanting to be chosen.
Some people make quick, intuitive decision. They find you online, check you out, and buy immediately. I call these people the quick actors.
Others need to take their time. Some clients have reported that they’ve been receiving my marketing emails for 8 years (or longer!) before they decide to work with me. These people are deliberate, thorough, and like to marinate on decisions. I call these people the thorough actors.
Your marketing needs to speak to both.
What’s the trigger event?
Research shows that most people desire to avoid pain and suffering is greater than their desire for gain. In other words, we typically need to decide that a situation is intolerable before we’re motivated to change it.
For my business owner clients, this could be:
- A business is continually unprofitable and a significant other (life partner, accountant, business partner) is unhappy.
- A business owner has been blind-sided by something significant that they didn’t see coming.
- A business owner has finally gotten sick of their own procrastination in launching a brand new business, new service offering or other thing.
- A business owner is frustrated beyond belief because their (less experienced, less skilled) competitors keep winning work that they believe they should have won.
To uncover your clients’ trigger events, ask yourself:
- Why did your last five clients choose to work with you?
- What was their trigger event?
- What percentage of your clients fall into particular trigger events?
Once you know this, you can describe these trigger events in depth, detail, colour and movement, in your marketing. In effect, you’re calling people in. And people can identify themselves in your marketing.
Talking to strangers
At the risk of sounding like a cynic old grump, a lot of networking is completely pointless. If it’s working for you, then great! Carry on. But if it’s no fun and not profitable, then stop.
Identifying your right people, and learning how to talk to strangers, without sucking all the oxygen from the room, is a key business skill. Part of this involves the art of the humble brag, and inviting people to buy.
Too many owners assume that people know who they are, what they do, and would surely buy from them, if they needed to.
But we don’t.
People are busy, distracted, and (often) misinformed. Our marketing needs to educate, inspire, motivate, allay fears and reassure, address misconceptions and preconceptions, and build trust and (important) – make a regular practise of inviting people to buy.
The difference between $50,000 and $500,000
Over the last 11 years that I’ve been business coaching, I see clear differences in owners who earn $50,000 and under, and those in the $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 range.
It’s not the owner’s expertise, or length of experience. It’s their confidence, pure and simple.
One client earned $170,000 in her first year in business, because of three key factors: she was confident in the value she was delivering, she priced properly because she knew what the going rate for consultants was, and she used her network.
Another client I worked with was from the wedding industry in 2020, which was totally decimated.
While effectively unemployed, she researched her competitors’ pricing and increased her prices. Once things reopened, she smashed past the $100,000 earning ceiling for the first time ever.
A third client was earning $350,000 within three years of starting, not because she was the most experienced (she wasn’t), nor had the qualifications of some of her more established competitors (she didn’t). But because she had an unassailable attitude of optimism and confidence that drew people to her like moths to a flame.
Clients aren’t buying your qualifications or certifications. Your features, inclusions and bonuses may be less important than you assume.
In order for people to buy, they need to feel confident that you’ll do what you say you’re going to do. And confidence is contagious. Clients can smell it, and they want to be around it.
Paid upfront, in full
To become a client magnet, with new clients who pay upfront, in full, you’ve got to have unshakable confidence.
Unshakable confidence doesn’t mean you never question or doubt or worry. It means you don’t let these take the driver’s seat in your business (or life) and you don’t start believing the negative stories that your (stressed, tired) brain is spinning.
Instead, you stand in the conviction of deep self-trust. Knowing things will turn out in your favour. That clients would be lucky to work with you. That you can handle whatever is thrown at you.
Your essential first step in starting your business is to demonstrate confidence so you can secure your first client (and your next, and your next). You need a leap of confidence to believe that you can make a living from your own sweat and smarts.
Your need for confidence only grows, as your business expands and more risks are required.
Your unshakable confidence makes you a client magnet. Once you’ve got this, anything is possible.
Are you ready for unshakable confidence? Do you want to learn the art of the humble brag, how to price for profit, and how to speak with strangers? Then join the Hustle & Heart program.