The Full On Facts About Finding Clients in 2022
Is your business a little slow? Do you need better leads? Or you’re just plain sick of the marketing you’re doing? This episode is for you as we’ll be talking about fresh ways to find clients, and why this is not the time to be relying on the magic of client attraction.
With the word recession on everyone’s lips, it’s hard not to worry about how that may impact your ability to find clients. Some of you may have already experienced a bit of a slowdown so far in 2022, and some of you may be doing better than ever.
There are so many factors that impact your ability to find clients, and with the current economic times, you need to be proactive about making a plan.
The goal of this episode isn’t to make you worried, but instead to help you feel like you have power in the situation.
Finding Clients: It’s Not an Accident
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I talk to someone and they tell me they need more clients, but they’re sitting back and waiting for clients to come to them.
The online business world likes to talk about “client attraction” which makes it sound like it’s magic. It teaches this very passive approach to finding clients with little understanding of how different marketing strategies may work for different types of businesses.
With finding clients, sure, sometimes there’s a bit of magic. I love it when a new agency lead comes to me as a referral or through SEO, but it’s not an accident. Your potential clients find you because of your marketing.
Hard truth: Now’s not the time to be passive about your marketing.
Getting Proactive About Your Marketing
Being proactive means carefully considering your marketing plan and assessing what’s working and what’s not. You don’t need to be everywhere, but you do need to be somewhere!
When you look at what’s working, consider how you can do it better or do more of it. For example, if referrals are a great source of leads for you, how do you get more referrals? Can you let people know you’d like referrals? Can you proactively ask for referrals?
You may find that small tweaks to what you’re already doing can help you find more clients without a lot of additional effort.
On the flip side, when you look at what’s not working, assess the return on your time (and potentially money) invested. Part of this is understanding that many marketing strategies require time to yield results, but there’s also a point at which you can make the call that they’re not the right fit.
Sunk cost fallacy can keep us trapped doing marketing that isn’t working when that time and effort would be better used elsewhere.
The other factor at play for many people when it comes to marketing that’s just not working for them is that they’re using strategies or tactics that are misaligned with their audience.
This happens a lot if you take advice from celebrity entrepreneurs and the online business crew as they teach a very limited set of tactics that are best for selling to other entrepreneurs.
As an example, if you sell to corporate clients who don’t use Instagram, you’re wasting your efforts trying to build an audience there. You need to go where they are such as LinkedIn or consider if other strategies like SEO may be more suitable.
Switching Up Your Marketing Plan
A quick reminder here before we tackle some ideas for things you can do to switch up your marketing plan. I’ve spent my entire career working in marketing, and it’s what I do all day with my agency clients.
So I don’t talk about marketing from the perspective of “hey this is what I do for my business”, but rather with the brains and experience of a marketer.
What we’re often taught as “marketing” for entrepreneurs is often a very narrow set of tactics focused on social media and content marketing.
Not every business owner, or business, needs to do those things in order to have a successful business. There are so many other things you can explore as options for your business.
Just a few options for you:
Where can you be teaming up with other people? Many of my clients in the early days of my business came through collaborations. These can be content collaborations to get in front of other people’s audiences or actual engagements where you work with another service provider to deliver for a client.
This doesn’t need to be sleazy, and it’s something I’ve had a lot of success with. The key is doing it in a targeted, thoughtful way so you can get in front of potential clients you wouldn’t otherwise get to connect with.
I know this seems retro but actually attending events either online or in person is a great way to connect with people. My recommendation is that you go to events where you’re the only person in a room.
If you’re a tech PR person, don’t go to a PR event, but to a tech event where you’re the outlier if your goal is to meet potential clients. Even the right local events can create connections that you can nurture into collaborations, referrals, or even future client relationships.
From speaking to guest teaching to being a podcast guest, guest starring will get you in front of new audiences using other people’s platforms. This may seem intimidating but if you start small, you can build up over time. And if you’re going to go this route, focus on doing targeted research and nailing your pitch. (I get a lot of guest pitches for this show and 98% of them are awful.)
I don’t recommend you do all of these all at once, but think about what’s the best fit for your skills, and where you’re most likely to find potential clients.
And if you want help with any of these, be sure to be on my email list as next week we’re going to have a hot sale on our mini-course on finding clients that’s full of scripts and practical advice. Everything in the Small Business Boss Shop will be 50% off starting Monday, October 17th, and Client Alchemy is coming out of the vault for the sale!
Out of the Box Ideas for Finding Clients
These aren’t marketing ideas per se, but they are some ideas that can help you if you’re on the lookout for clients right now. Sometimes we need to get creative!
Even if things are slow or the economy is weird, business is still happening. How we work with clients may shift or evolve. Two options to consider are fractional roles or expanding contracts with current clients.
Fractional roles offer a way for you to fill a role for your client that they may not be able to fill. This type of role has you working as a more committed member of their team, but having done this myself, it’s actually a great way to have stable, ongoing revenue.
At the onset of the pandemic when we lost three clients in a single week, we had the opportunity to take on a fractional role for one of our clients. Our contract with them expanded dramatically in size, and it turns out it was a great move for both me and the team. That client has been very lucrative for us, and there’s been a lot of upsides as they trust us implicitly and we have a strong working relationship.
That relationship has changed and evolved over the past two and a half years, but I’m grateful we said yes to that opportunity when we did.
Maybe a fractional role is not a great fit for you, but there are other ways you can get a little creative.
Expand Your Contracts
Another thing to consider is if you can do additional work for your existing clients. Some of your clients may be looking for greater support, or to simplify the number of contractors or agencies they work with.
Remember, the talent shortage means that your clients may not have the people they need to fill full-time roles, but the work still needs to get done. That’s where you come in.
Don’t assume they don’t have the budget. If you open up the discussion, you may be surprised at what opportunities they may have.
Don’t Let Your Leads Fizzle: Follow-Up!
Another opportunity for each and every one of us is to ensure we’re following up with all of our leads. If you’ve sent out a proposal or are waiting to hear, a quick nudge can go a long way to moving things along.
In August, I had two proposals out that were dragging things out. Of course, I made up some stories about why that was happening, but I followed up. One quickly turned into a new client, and the other let me know that they weren’t doing the project, but another one was on deck they wanted to discuss.
Prioritize Your Relationships
There’s one final opportunity I want to share with you. And it’s something every one of us can do.
Invest in your relationships. I get it, over the last two plus years many of your business relationships may have fizzled as you’re not going to events or your co-working space.
Don’t let that continue. This is based on a pep talk I gave myself last week after realizing that with the pandemic, and all my personal jazz going on, I’ve been a little MIA with my business contacts.
So the first thing I did was reach out to a couple of my business friends. Now we’ve got catch-up calls booked and things are happening.
A quick email or text or DM can go a long way to reconnecting. (And yes, I’m taking this advice in my personal life too and I’ve got a list of friends I need to catch up with.)
Final Thoughts: Finding Client is in Your Control
I’ve shared this story before about a conversation my former business partner and I had back in 2017. I still remember it like it was yesterday. We had a very hard conversation about our marketing and how to meet our goals we needed to shift.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little heated. But what I didn’t recognize when we started the agency was the ways we generated leads we needed to evolve. While the situation was far from dire, I’m so glad we had that conversation as it was a game changer.
It was the kick in the ass I needed to stop waiting around for clients and get proactive about it. Since then, I’ve tested many different things and figured out what works best for us. I know that if (or when) we need to, I can jump in to find clients.
So just like the way I got kicked in the ass, consider this a gentle kick in your ass if you need to find more clients. Like I said earlier, now is not the time to be passive.
Finally, if this is a shift you need to make (like I did five years ago), I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with you or that this means you’re desperate. Doing something about it means you’re smart. You’ve got this.