Your perfect clients aren’t hiding from you. The problem is that it’s hard to get their attention, let alone get them to buy from you. And this article will explain exactly why that is and what you need to do.
Let’s say that you know who your ideal clients are. You know the kind of companies they work for, what kind of business they own, or who they are as individuals. You understand their problems, challenges, and needs. You know how they think, feel and act. You can spot them a mile away. And you love working with them.
If only you could get in front of more of them! Then you could get their attention, get meetings and – presto-chango – turn them into new clients.
Well, the secret to this act of magic is simple but elusive.
It’s based on one of the most powerful principles of marketing: “People tend to do business with people they like and trust.
And to do that your prospective clients need to get to know you better. Until that happens, there’s no liking or trusting.
But this can be tricky because prospective clients have different relationships with you. In fact, there are five categories of relationships.
You can divide your prospective clients into a continuum of these five broad categories:
The first category is “Stranger.” You don’t know them and they don’t know you. These are the hardest prospects to approach because the trust level is low.
The second category is “Affiliated.” These are prospects you don’t know but have some kind of connection with. For instance, they may be members of the same professional association. This automatically increases your trust level.
The third category is “Familiar.” These are prospects that may know your name or have met you briefly but really know little to nothing about your business or how you could help them. Still, there’s a little more trust than before.
The fourth category is “Informed.” These prospects know you better because they’ve absorbed some information about you and your business. They’ve visited your website, read an article, or perhaps are on your email list. Your trust level is increasing.
The fifth category is “Experienced.” These prospects know you the best. They are not just familiar with you and have information from you, they’ve experienced a taste of the value you offer. They may have attended a presentation or webinar you conducted. Now their trust level is relatively high.
Which category of prospects is going to be the easiest to convert into paying clients? In almost all cases, it’s going to be that fifth category, the prospects who have an experience of you, who know, like, and trust you the most.
The process of marketing is about connecting with prospects in the very first category and then moving them along the categories until they are ready to do business with you.
This is the third of five articles about the 5 Pillars of Marketing, my marketing model that helps get your marketing on track. 5 Pillars article here.
A typical scenario might look something like this:
You know of a professional association that consists of business owners who you think would be good clients for you. Everyone in that organization is a stranger before you join.
As soon as you join the organization, you become affiliated with every single member. And that makes it much easier to reach out to them and build some familiarity.
Next, after you’ve introduced yourself to members at association meetings, you might invite some of them to join your email list, or you could send them some information about your services.
Then you might host a presentation and invite those who are on your list to attend. And once they’ve attended, they have an experience of you and your business. And a certain percentage of those who attend become much more qualified prospects for your professional services.
A final step is following up with those who attended your presentation and inviting them to meet with you and explore how your services could benefit them.
This is the process I’ve used for more that 30 years to attract new clients. Strangers rarely buy my service or programs. And even those who are familiar with me or have my information are infrequent buyers. No, it’s those who’ve had an experience of my work who become my clients.
A great example of how this works is my wife’s part-time catering business. She joined a weekly networking group and got to know the members. That built familiarity and trust. But it was when she brought samples of her food that she started to get new clients!
So where are your prospective clients? They start by being members of communities and are strangers to you. But you’re not going to get their trust immediately. You need to nurture your prospects through those five categories over time.
This is the biggest mistake self-employed professionals make in their marketing. They just wait for something to happen, for prospects to approach them. They don’t consistently work to proactively move their prospects from one category to the next.
No matter where your prospective clients are in the five categories, there is always something you can do to move them to the next category as I’ve outlined above.
And, by the way, you want to start with the people in the fifth category first by reaching out to them. They already trust you more and they’ll be easier to approach. Then move on to the people in the fourth category by offering experiences to them, etc.
If you start to approach your marketing as a process of slowly but surely moving your prospects into the next category, you’ll always know the next marketing action you need to take.