I’ve talked to clients a lot in the past about one key question:
What have you done TODAY to make a sale?
I’m going to take it a step further today and ask another simple question:
What have you done TODAY to find a new client?
Some might ask at this point, “Isn’t making a sale and finding a new client the same thing?”
In the past, my answer was yeah, sure. However, as I’ve thought about it more, I realize that I can make one sale today but then never, ever see that customer again. On the other hand, if my goal is to find CLIENTS, I’m really not only looking for a “sale”, but I’m also looking for a long-term business relationship that I can develop, leading to sale after sale after sale to the same client.
I was reading an article today titled “5 Smart Ways to Find Clients“. They mentioned that finding clients is something almost every small business owner struggles with from time to time. There are quite a few ways to do it, but finding new clients really boils down to putting yourself where your clients are, being approachable, and fulfilling a need or solving a problem. It doesnt have to be much more complicated than that.
Who’s Your Ideal “Golden” Client?
One of the things I liked best about this article was how they talked about finding your “ideal client”. It made me think about the clients I’ve worked with over the last few months and years.
To define my “golden client”, I asked myself these questions:
- Who are my clients, past and present?
- Do I like working with them?
- Why or Why Not?
- If I could pick my best client, who would it be and why?
- How could I duplicate that client over and over again?
Asking myself these questions helped me recognize that “not all clients are created equal”. Yes, the cliche of the “customer is always right” came echoing in my ears, but is that really the case? I often times disagree with that statement simply because, in order for a business relationship to hit its peak performance, both parties need to be excited to work together or some essential communication (and ultimately success) will be left by the wayside.
Consider working some new activities into your marketing plan that focus solely on putting your name where your ideal clients will see it. Explore advertising on websites frequented by your ideal clients, writing copy that feels more personal and relevant, and repeating some of your marketing messages in different ways to the same group of desirable clients.
After I clearly defined who my ideal client was, the next four action items made a lot more sense:
- Be Visible: have you ever had the ideal client come to you on their own? This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve always asked myself the question: “How can I make this happen over and over again?” Some of the suggestions were to optimize your website and blog, participate in industry specific blogs and forums, comment on relevant blogs that share your “ideal target audience”, and be active and consistent in social networks where your audience hangs out.
- Be a Local Networker: yesterday I went to a local conference with guest speaker Peter Shankman. The dude was ADHD on steroids; but overall, I felt an event like that was great for a few reasons: 1) He was an entertaining and informative speaker. Local events like this one get the wheels spinning and cause me to evaluate what specific things I’m doing (or not doing) to maximize my time and energy. 2) I was able to talk to other leaders in the industry, let them know what I was up to, and just “make face”. There is a lot of value in local networking. Some of the best ways to network locally: conferences like the one I mentioned, local industry organizations, speaking opportunities where you can share your specialties and knowledge, offering live classes and seminars.
- Be a Pleaser: yes, this one may sound a bit odd, but go with me on it. If you have a “golden client” who you wish you could work with every day of the week, TAKE CARE OF THEM. Communicate! Let them know what’s happening. Get their feedback. Make sure you’re on the same page. Focus on keeping them happy and exploring different things you can do to build the relationship. Once you feel like things are going well and they are seeing value in what you’re offering, ask for referrals or recommendations. Most of the time, “Birds of a feather flock together!”
- Be the Best JV Out There: Joint Ventures are where a small to medium sized business takes a leap to the next level. If you can find clients who offer complementary but not competitive services, put together a proposal that’s great for them and great for you too. Bundle services together, share email lists, simply offer added value to each of your email lists and watch both your businesses grow!
As you’ve read these suggestions, what ideas come to mind? How are YOU going to implement them today, tomorrow, and on-going?
Are you ready to find your next client who will help you make sales over and over and over again?
I’m excited about 2011 and about implementing these tips to take my business to the next level and look forward to hearing your experiences too.
Share tips that have helped you find “golden” clients!
Nate Moller has been teaching clients how to start an online business for over five years. Hes worked with thousands of clients who are at square one of their online marketing journey and helped them see six figure results with their businesses online. Follow Nate on Twitter and stay tune for his free ebook about Building on Professional Website in One Hour or Less!
24 thoughts on “How to Find New Clients that Are Golden”
The “Golden Client” to me is the client that does your marketing for you. We have a huge number of referrals from clients we have continued to make happy over the years. Word of mouth marketing is huge – you make the right person happy they will make you so much money its not even funny!
This struck a chord with me. In theory the whole point about inbound marketing and SEO is that all your clients come to you so that prospecting is not necessary. I’m beginning to think that carefully identifying and targeting specific customers is a far better strategy for ending up with the customers you want long term because that is taking control of the situation.
Love the comment thread. I’m a big proponent of hand-picking most valuable clients. It’s tempting in business to be everything to everybody, but businesses live and die everyday on the caliber of their clientele. I recently took a different approach in pinpointing clients that are NOT golden, or to spot common threads within groups. To name just a few, golden clients are not the first to respond to offers, aren’t driven by pricepoints, will voice their concerns to you (very valuable), are not always biggest spenders, will champion genuine referral programs, etc.
I agree 110%! It’s so nice to have clients that value and appreciate what you do so much that they are looking for ways to “take care of you” too. Word of Mouth referrals are a KEY sign that you are providing an extremely valuable service too. I’ve seen companies that hardly EVER get word of mouth referrals and know that it costs them 10 times MORE money to generate new business than it would if they really worked hard to strengthen current business relationships. Thanks for the comment and feedback Mat!
Agreed! I’m a huge fan of SEO (thanks to @matt_siltala) and know it can help generate new business that is golden. But, to me, good SEO only generates INTEREST – especially for a service business. The questions you then ask, the relationship you then begin building, these are the ways to separate the “wheat from the tares” in finding golden clients via SEO. I may get tons of what I call “Browser Traffic” but 9 times out of 10 they aren’t ready to make any decisions – which is the opposite of a “golden client” to me.
Thanks for the comment Ewan!
So true about wanting to take care of anyone and everyone, especially at first. I really like what you shared about ways to specifically define your golden clients too – great points.
Thanks for the comment!
Referrals from other local business are, for me, the single greatest source of qualified leads that we can get. Developing relationship through joint ventures like you mentioned is essential to building a solid business network and lasting customer base.
One of the hardest things to figure out as someone who was originally a member of the reluctantly self-employed is that the clients willing to pay the most aren’t necessarily “golden”. Before you can identify your golden clients, you must first define your goals as a small business owner.
Are you in it just for the money? Are you in it for some sort of satisfaction that comes from helping other businesses succeed? Are you in it just because you’re an incorrigible geek whose bliss comes from spending 18 hours a day in front of a computer? No matter who a potential client may be, whether or not they’ll be your golden client depends on how well your ultimate goals match up with theirs. One person’s golden client is another person’s nightmare. SEO, know thyself. 🙂
Thanks for the confirmation Hugh!
My question to you now is this: what are specific things you do to develop the business relationship with your clients, thus leading to high quality “golden” referrals?
My next post should be based on this – How to get your clients to refer GOLD to You…
What do you mean by “…originally a member of the reluctantly self-employed”?
And what would you say is the “right” reason to be in business? I mean, if a person is NOT in business to make money, will they really last in the long-run anyway? As the cliche I’m sick of hearing (but believe) states – “It takes money to make money…”
Being in the SEO business to help businesses succeed, to me, is a no-brainer. If you don’t help a business succeed and you can’t SHOW them the value you’re providing, they won’t be paying you for very long and they DEFINITELY won’t be referring you to anyone else. And without one or both of those occurrences, you’ll eventually have to look at doing something else yourself.
The more I think about it, the more I feel that EVERY client has the potential to be “golden” if the communication is good from the get go.
I’ve had clients who paid me well, had good businesses, but at the end of the day, were more of a pain than it was worth and I was fine letting them “move on”. A lot of it was really my fault for not digging deep enough to find out what they wanted, and part of it was that they didn’t really know what they wanted either.
That is the biggest problem: working with ANY client who doesn’t know what they want exactly and/or who has unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it’s better to just say no and to let the client figure things out on their own for a while – then come back to you later when they’ve realized SEO is NOT for everyone!
Interested in your response!
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@Nate – I just meant that while being self-employed was always part of my long term life plan, it happened much more quickly and with FAR less preparation than I would have liked when I was unexpectedly fired in December 2008.
And I agree that a purpose of being in business is to make money, but it’s not the only purpose. Not every self-employed person aspires to grow it into a multi-million dollar venture. So, while making money is a part of the puzzle, that’s not what takes center stage in the finished image. Money is not always the ultimate goal, but the means by which they will continue being able to live the life they want – which, for many, does not include having some stuffed shirt nimrod telling them what to do all day long.
As for all clients having the potential to be golden, I don’t agree. Some people will always demand 2…3…10 times more than what they’ve paid for. The time, effort and productivity loss required to meet the expectations of some clients simply can’t be justified from a business perspective. And as much as I love to educate people and make sure they understand everything 100%, not everyone will really take the time to absorb the information we give them. That’s just the reality of offering any service, Internet-related or otherwise.
Great comments. Couldn’t have said it better.
Well very good article. Existing clients are assets. It’s much easier to make money if you have existing clients that like you.
A golden client to me is someone who’s knowledgeable with his business, with that presence of wisdom also allows me to learn more of his/her trade, and with both of us learning more as we toss ideas to improve his/her business.
I particularly liked the 4th tip. Haven’t tried doing JVs yet, and I think that I have to start working on that one asap.
Very Juicy info Nate, I just started working my local networking through facebook connection.Your article a timely resources and inspiration for me :). I am agree with your definition “be a Pleaser” 🙂
Thanks for nice topic Nate.
For me, returning clients are golden clients. Been working with a local marketing company and i learned a lot. Not all clients are same. Some are annoying which costs you alot (in terms of resources, reply their questions, etc..) and some are so nice that they continuously send you business once they’re happy with them. 80-20 rule you know?
@ Joel. There could be some “returning clients”, as you put it, who you might at some stage just wish wouldn’t return and who you eventually have to fire. To be a golden client the relationship has to work on both sides which means both sides understand their goals and what their expectations are, as I believe Alysson has articulated very well.
Many clients (tho’ I now find more and more are prospects that thankfully never become clients) don’t understand what they’re buying and therefore aren’t ready to engage. Many are just “me-too” panic buying and are out of their depth. I’ve engaged with some of those and been dragged down by them.
The golden client for me is one who has a good understanding of the subject matter, what he is buying, what his expectations are yet still is confident enough to entrust you to get on with it.
Thanks for the added insight.
What I’m learning about clients who ask for 2, 3, 10 times more than what they pay for is how to recognize them from the beginning and either charge them more so they say no, or have the guts to just say “No thanks!”
I currently love what I do; but if I worked with a handful of people like that for too long, I’d probably go crazy.
I agree that money is only the means to an end. I guess what I mean is that some “self-employed entrepreneurs” are so much about giving and sharing information that they forget that they need to make money. I never agree with those who “give away the farm” in an effort to please people – especially because many of those givers take business from those of us who really provide a legitimate service at an affordable price.
Glad to hear from you again!
Thanks for the comment Ben! The key is to find the golden clients from the get-go and avoid the clients who strap you thin and will NEVER be happy no matter what or how much you do for them.
There are golden clients out there though!
Keep us posted on how your networking is going for you. Thanks for the comment!
AMEN! Some clients are ones you want to say “Thanks but no thanks” to. And there are others who will continue to give you great referrals because they’re “Golden”.
Keep me posted on your success!
GREAT POINTS Ewan! I couldn’t have said it better! Clients who are buying SEO services but have NO IDEA what SEO really is, instead they are just “me too” buyers, are ones I’m becoming ok saying no to.
Not only are there expectations unrealistic, but they tend to be the biggest pain in the you know what.
I remember my first big SEO client who, after about 1 month, began asking why they weren’t on the first page of Google for phrases like “politics” or “voting”. I laughed and said, “Because you’re not paying me $100K per month…” and I’m doubtful that I could get natural rankings for those phrases with that kind of money.
I appreciate your comment!
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