When you have taken the right steps to position and package your expertise so that you are seen as an authority in your market, you want to attract as many prospective ideal clients as possible.
The big mistake many people make is they rush out to start looking only for clients, customers or patients who are ready to sign up now.
However the reality is there is likely to be a fairly small group of people who are ready to give you money TODAY for whatever you are offering.
If you focus all your efforts only on people who are ready to buy today, you will miss out on big opportunities.
That’s why successful marketing usually follows a two-step approach.
The Two-Step Marketing Principle
The best approach to marketing usually involves the following two steps.
- Generating Leads: You want to start by attracting the interest of people who fit your definition of a first choice client. They may not be ready to buy from you today but they are sufficiently interested in what you offer to put up their hand and say so.
- Converting Leads into Customers: Once someone has demonstrated that they are interested in what you offer, you need to have a system that encourages as many of them as possible to stay with you longer and invest more.
While there is naturally a consistent flow between the two stages, the marketing approach and message for each part is different.
Most businesses arguably put too much effort into the first stage – going out looking for new clients.
The real secret of success is usually putting most of your marketing effort into the second stage to build deeper relationships with existing clients.
Having said that, leads from new prospects are the lifeblood of your business and you won’t get far in the later steps if you don’t do well in the first.
In this step, we’ll concentrate on the steps involved in generating a steady supply of your ideal prospects.
In the next step, we’ll look at how you then convert these prospects into profitable, long-term client relationships.
The Marriage Cliché
In many ways, building relationships with clients and prospective clients is similar to building relationships in your personal life. While it may seem an obvious cliché, there are useful parallels.
Most people wouldn’t rush up and ask for someone’s phone number without first establishing some interest.
Most people don’t propose marriage on the first date.
There are, of course, exceptions to both rules but in business it pays to get the balance right.
The job of your marketing is first to establish your prospect’s interest and then to show them, over time, why they should build a relationship with you.
Just as in your personal life, business relationships can click into place right away and someone might buy quickly. Other times, it will take longer to build that level of interest and trust.
Your aim is really to build a large personal address book of people who have expressed interest in you – and then stay in touch with them until they buy – rather than have to rely on the public telephone directory.
The first step in the process is that you need to attract people who are interested in what you do so that you can then stay in touch and communicate with them.
There are two key elements needed to do this successfully:
- Platform: Somewhere people can find out more about you and where you can collect their information
- Promotion: A planned program to drive as many of your ideal prospects as possible to visit your platform
Building Your Platform
Your platform is the place where you encourage people to go so that you can collect their contact details.
Usually this will be a website or blog as it is often the easiest way to collect contact details. But it can be a phone number they can call or fax information to. The key elements of your Platform are:
- Powerful magnet which offers people a reason to give you their details.
- Prominent opt-in making it a priority to capture name, e-mail address or other information from prospects.
- Persuasive message emphasizing why they should give you their details.
- Prompt follow-up delivering the magnet, thanking them for their details and establishing the relationship.
- Promoted everywhere ensuring all your marketing efforts are focused on sending people to this opt-in page
If you want someone to give you their contact details, you need to give them a reason for doing so.
The better the reason you give them, the stronger your magnet is. When you have a strong magnet, it will not only attract more prospects, it will also make them more likely to stick.
Your magnet could for example be one or more of the following:
- Series of lessons in a mini-course
- Special report or white paper
- Video or audio for download or viewing online
- Regular e-newsletter or tips
- Workbook or checklist
Creating this type of information is much easier than you think. You just need a series of short articles – which you don’t even need to write – or you can repackage content created for another purpose.
While the aim of your magnet is partly to encourage people to give you their details, it should also demonstrate your expertise.
A good magnet should make people want to know more about what you can do for them.
The most important aim of the first stage of your marketing is to collect the contact details of your potential ideal clients. That means, for example, that the main objective of your website or blog should be to collect contact information. You may only get one chance to do that so you need to make it as easy as possible.
To do that, you usually need a professional autoresponder service from a specialist such as Aweber. They will give you code you can include on your website to create a sign up box for people to leave their details.
To collect details from as many people as possible, you should use every opportunity to display your sign-up box. For example:
- Your sign up boxes should be prominent
- There should be several sign up boxes on every page
- You should consider using pop-ups, pop-unders and exit pop-ups
However, you are likely to get the best results by focusing your marketing effort on “landing pages” which are focused entirely on getting the contact information. If you send people just to your website home page, they may be distracted by other elements.
Depending on your business, you may have a range of different magnets and landing pages to reflect different offers and different ideal clients.
Simply offering something free is not enough to encourage people to give you their details. People feel they get enough junk mail – whether by post or by email – and they are not just going to hand out their details to anyone.
You therefore need to convince them why they should give you their contact information.
You need to sell the benefits of signing up to your list just as if you were offering a product for sale.
Depending on the moment, you may do that with an appealing graphic and a strong headline, you may add a few bullet points or you could even have a longer sales letter. Your aim is not simply to get lots of people to sign up; it’s to attract the right kind of people – your ideal clients.
To build your list, you will need to ask for the email address at least; asking for their name enables you to personalize the messages and you can also ask for more information such as phone number or physical address.
Generally, asking for more information will lower the response but may well attract people who are more likely to be your ideal clients and allow you to build a deeper relationship with them.
Prompt Follow Up
Finally, having collected someone’s contact details, you need to ensure you follow up right away to deliver what you promised them and to tell them what to expect next.
We’ll talk more about that in the next chapter.
The key to building the largest prospect list possible is ensuring your marketing activity is focused on driving people to pages where they will be encouraged to sign up for your email list.
You can have several different pages perhaps promoting magnets covering different areas of your business but you should always be driving people to pages where they are encouraged to sign up and give you their details.
Promoting Your Expertise
You need to use as many different approaches as possible to promote your expertise and attract a regular supply of your ideal prospects.
However the purpose of your promotion is not about persuading people to buy.
The aim of your promotion is first to ensure that large numbers of people in your target market are aware that you exist – and then to give them a reason to contact you so that you can build a relationship.
You need to do enough in your promotion to attract their interest so that they contact you – either direct or by giving you their details – so that you can follow up with them.
There are many different options available for promoting your expertise and they generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Personal Branding
- Publishing Externally
- Paid-for Advertising and Promotion
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
You can use a range of activities to increase your personal profile online and offline to get your name and reputation better known.
- Writing: Communicate through blog posts, articles or books.
- Speaking: People who speak are automatically seen as experts.
- Networking and Events: Who you know can be more important than what you know.
- Social Media: Sites like Google+, Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter can be useful to expand your contacts and reputation.
When you share some of your expertise with others, they can see what you know, how you work and how you can help them.
As we discussed in the previous step, publishing valuable content helps build your authority. But it also plays a role in promotion when you actively aim to get your content in front of more people.
Some of the most effective strategies for publishing your expertise include the following:
- Blog or Website: Can act as the hub for your information.
- Free Reports: Offering special reports or white papers.
- Article Writing: Published online and offline.
- Video Marketing: Building your profile and website traffic.
- Book: One of the best ways of proving you are an expert.
- Seminars, webinars and workshops: Live seminars and workshops or online teleseminars and webinars.
- SEO and Local Search: Ensuring your website can be found in online search and that your business ranks well in local search.
Publicity is a great way to reach a lot of people with a limited budget. You just need to have a message that is newsworthy.
You need something fresh – something that people would want to know about.
This approach includes tactics such as press releases, event marketing, sponsorship, community involvement, contests and media kits.
Paid-for Advertising and Promotion
While there are many free and low-cost ways of promoting your business, paid-for marketing can help you reach a bigger audience and see faster results. The most effective paid options include:
- PPC: Pay-per-click advertising such as Google AdWords.
- Direct Mail: Using well-targeted lists produces measurable results.
- Postcards: Low-cost and highly effective.
- Classified Ads: Effective at moving leads from offline to online.
- Ezine Advertising: Someone with existing access to your market.
One of the fastest ways to grow your business is to get the help of others. One way you can do that is through support from existing customers. Another is through people and businesses that give access to the market you want to reach.
Here are some examples of how partnership can help you grow.
- Testimonials: Stories of results from existing clients.
- Referrals: Current customers referring others to you.
- Customer Research: Finding out what people want.
- Affiliates: Getting others to sell your product or service.
- Joint Ventures: Working with other businesses for mutual benefit.
These are some of the main marketing methods you can use. The key is to find the right ones for you. Many business owners make one or other of the following mistakes:
- Choose too few methods and don’t get maximum benefit
- Choose too many and don’t use any of them effectively
While you’ll ultimately want to use a range of promotional techniques, the key is to start slowly. It’s best to master a few so you are getting good results rather than trying to do too much too soon. Choose three or four techniques as your priorities to get started. If you find it easier, focus on one at a time – perhaps one a month.
It’s important to make sure they all work together effectively and that your message remains consistent across all of them. Once you have chosen the strategies you are going to use, you need a calendar of daily, weekly, monthly and occasional activities to make sure they happen. In order to ensure you are getting the best value for your time and money, you need to be constantly:
- Tracking your results so you know the return for every dollar.
- Testing approaches such as new headlines and messages in order to get better results from your activity.