Marketing will not get you clients!

This is something I heard in a speaker video this morning. It makes sense, although it’s a bit of a shocker statement on the surface. On the surface, it makes you think, “Great! I can stop throwing away good money on marketing.” If only. What it really means is that marketing is only the beginning. Marketing done well will get you prospects, but it’s your ability to provide value and then sell yourself, your ideas and your products that will get you clients. Trust will get you clients. Credibility will get you clients.

Making all of this happens requires that you identify your target market. This means not only identifying your ideal customer, but of equal importance, it means identifying who is not your ideal customers. There’s no good reason to spend time those who don’t fit your ideal customer demographic. Businesses that know their target audience grow much faster; and this often means starting small.

So you know your target audience. Now what? The aforementioned speaker, Matthew Kimberly, author of How to Get a Grip, mentions the following core self-promoting marketing strategies, focusing on the first three.

  1. Networking
  2. Direct Outreach
  3. Referral
  4. Speaking
  5. Writing
  6. Web

He breaks down the introduction process for those often awkward networking events or random first meetings, stating that the process should include this simple question.

What are you looking to achieve?

This question should come before you drone on and on about what you do. Sure you want to explain what it is that you or your company does, but it darn well better be something you can explain in less than 15 seconds, and in such a way that an eight year old can understand it. MK reminds us, however that it’s more important to find out what the person in front of you does and what he or she needs and wants. How can you serve that person, is the question you should ask yourself. Maybe you can best serve them with a simple introduction to someone in your network, but maybe you can serve them personally with your awesome super power. Once you know what this person is looking to achieve, ask this.

Why is that important to you? or What does that look like? or How would that make you feel?

Listen… But really listen. Once you’ve learned more about this something that you can help solve or achieve, your next question should be, “Would you like help with that?” If the answer is “Maybe,” or “It depends,” it’s about money. If the answer is “No.” The conversation is over, so to speak. This is not your ideal customer, and it’s quite likely someone who has no interest in your help. They have even decided that you couldn’t possibly help them. No problem. Move on. If the answer is “Yes,” here’s your final question.

Would you like that person to be me?

If the answer is “Yes.” You can ask for a credit card, so to speak, and start wowing your new client with value.

The last part of Kimberly’s talk, which I can really relate to is this recommendation for networking, which is really about nurturing relationships. This part is gold, in my opinion. He recommends making a list of 90 people who can possibly help you someday, and to who you can provide value today. Reach out to three a day. Share your passion, your network and/or your knowledge. Here are some examples that come to mind.

You have a friend who sells to HR professionals, and you just found out about a big HR conference of potential interest to said friend. You email, message them on LinkedIn or whatever, and say something like, “Hey buddy, I found this HR conference in your area. It’s happening next month, and I thought you might be interested in going. Here’s a link. Hope all is well for you and yours!”

Other examples that come to mind are wishing someone a happy birthday, perhaps sending a card via snail mail, congratulating someone on a promotion, or sharing your favorite mobile app with someone. The point is, you’re staying in touch, sharing interesting stuff and making introductions. I love this concept. It’s a legitimate piece of what should be a multi-pronged approach to developing your audience, your tribe of raving fans. He Kimberly adds that sales professionals (i.e. business owners) can start small, focusing on as few as 20 people. Then it’s just a matter of giving, giving and giving (value). Finally, he recommends having a gang of five. This gang of five is what small business owners know as referral partners. These are professionals who are catering and/or networking with the same prospective customers. This is your tight knit group or gang of five. This is a very important referral source. These are real partners in your business success.