Finally…A Reliable Method For Landing New Clients

Last week I touched base with one of my clients to see how things are going. My client, Katie, just launched a new real estate firm here in Boulder.

Like most new companies, Katie needs a reliable way to get clients of her own.

The problem, Katie despises social media. We’re talking the kind of hate reserved for the IRS in April.

So how are we achieving business development results that lead to this email from Katie last month…

Happy Client Email

First, let me say these are the kinds of emails that keep me excited about my job. This is why I love working with small to mid-size companies instead of megacorps. My work can transform someone’s life and business. That feels pretty damn good.

Second, it’s important to know that I didn’t prompt her for this email. I simply checked in with her and passed along a recommendation (tied to the business development strategy I’m about to share).

Back to the subject at hand…

How is Katie getting these clients?

It’s not a hack or gimmick. You’re going to have to put in a little work (or hire someone to do the work for you) to get similar results. If you’re looking for a magic system that doesn’t require any work, you may as well move on my friend. I don’t sell BS magic systems like many of the internet charlatans you’ll find oozing out of dark corners of the web.

Bravo if you’re still here. You’re about to learn a system that has worked for me and my clients (Katie is a little of the latest proof). Just about any business can use this system, but I’m specifically laying out steps for a client-based service business today.

I’ve run client-based businesses for the last 15 years, and I’ve worked with dozens of other client-based businesses to shape their brands and marketing. This method is the most predictable source for driving high quality leads I’ve found.

Enough buildup, let’s get to these 5 steps for getting clients already.

Step 1: Identify Your Niche

Katie is perfectly capable of working with all types of real estate clients (and she does indeed work with a range of clients on the buyer and seller side), but her agency is thriving because we’re focusing her marketing efforts on winning a specific customer. Katie is ‘the’ option for new buyers moving to the Boulder area instead of ‘an’ option for everyone.

I share this same methodology for my business. I’m ‘the’ option for client-based businesses that need to connect their business, brand, and marketing strategy to land more clients. This is a little more focused than being ‘an’ option for all companies that need brand and marketing help. Yes, I work with companies outside of the client-based business niche, but I focus my new client acquisition around this area because I bring particular knowledge and expertise that adds value to the relationship and makes me ‘the’ option.

This step is fundamental to making the system work. You must define where you can become a Category Of One.

When you narrow the audience, you’re able to say the right thing, to the right people, in the right places.

I know it’s scary to commit. We all struggle with this step. I struggle with it myself. You naturally think, “Am I leaving business on the table and shooting myself in the foot by going too narrow?”

The answer is no.

History proves that focus leads to growth. The way to get big is to start small. Start narrow, deliver results for your perfect client, develop passionate fans, and your brand will expand to the broader market. Look at the stories of Starbucks, Nike, Basecamp, or just about any other household brand and you’ll see that they started with a passionate group of fans in a narrow niche before blowing up into powerhouses.

I’m not saying you have to stop working with your clients that don’t fit in this niche. I’m simply saying that you need to focus your marketing efforts in a specific area where you can become ‘the’ option instead of ‘an’ option.

The more focused your niche, the more visible you can become. Your budget stretches further, the audience sees you more often, and awareness is easier to achieve. 

Step 2: Define A Problem

Running a successful client-based business comes down to consistently solving a problem for an easily identified group of people.

If you want to grow your business, become better at identifying and solving problems. 

For the purpose of this post, we’re only going to focus on one problem. What is the one issue that keeps your clients up at night? 

Let’s go back to Katie for a moment. Remember that Katie is focusing on new buyers moving to Boulder. What’s their big problem?

They don’t have a clue which neighborhoods to consider.

How do we know this? We researched Google search volume for keyword phrases like “Best Neighborhoods In Boulder” and “Moving To Boulder Co” to gauge the market. Our research confirmed that people are looking for answers about neighborhoods in Boulder.

We aren’t guessing or making assumptions. There is hard evidence that people need information about neighborhoods in Boulder based on the search volume for these keyword phrases.

Katie has now identified her ideal client and the problem she’ll solve for them.

What’s the one problem you can solve for your ideal client? 

I recommend starting with Google research. My platform of choice for Google research is SEMRush.com as it is simple to use and provides a wealth of information and resources. Use the link above to get a free trial (this is an affiliate link, but I am not recommending SEMrush.com because I’m an affiliate. I’m recommending it because it’s the best service).

Search phrases until you’ve found a problem you can solve with sufficient search volume to support your efforts. You’ll also want to reference the CPC (Cost Per Click) as that’s going to let you know how much you’ll have to pay for that traffic. More on this in step 5 below.

Step 3: Write A Blog Post

Once you’ve identified a problem, write a blog post that solves the problem. Your post must provide clear steps for people to follow. Deliver value and show your expertise. Don’t hold things back or worry about giving away your hard-earned knowledge that clients pay you to execute. You want people to read, execute, and get results from your blog post.

You’re reading an example of this execution right now.

I’m laying out a plan for how you can get more clients. As you’ve seen above form Katie’s email, I get hired by people to implement this system. I can share the full peek behind the curtain because I know that there are different types of people who will read this post.

  1. People who will read, execute and see results from the post, but they won’t ever hire me. Maybe they’ll become a subscriber to my incredibly valuable (and free) weekly email but it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever become a client for various reasons. That’s ok, I want them to benefit from this post and share it with friends.
  2. People who will read, execute and see results, but they want to take things to the next level. This group reaches out to me to discuss how we can amp things up and improve their efforts. I’ve done my part in providing value and proving my expertise. We’ve started to build a relationship before we’ve even talked. 
  3. People who will read, want to execute, but they’re stuck somewhere in the process and need help. I am able to help them clarify and execute. Who better to help them than the person who provided the strategy? 

Know that you’ll have similar buckets of people. Some people will happily benefit from free information and do nothing in return. That’s ok…deliver value and you’ll be rewarded by the right people. 

Jumping back to Katie’s example, she put together a great post outlining the “Best Neighborhoods In Boulder” for people to reference. She has hundreds of people visiting that blog post every month. The vast majority of these people don’t reach out to her, but the ones that do are hot leads.

Instead of sending people to a sales page, Katie opened the relationship by sharing information and value. Katie has built trust with the potential client before ever speaking with them.

Step 4: Provide A Call To Action

Focus on delivering information and value for 98% of your blog post. Don’t sell yourself throughout the piece. Contain that urge to, “Always be closing.”

Save your sales pitch for the very end of your article. Provide one clear call to action. Tell prospects who you are, what you do, how you can help them, and the precise action to take if they’d like to work with you.

Inject some brand personality. This is your shot at winning people over with your charming story. However, don’t make this longer than one paragraph, and only provide one link so that the action you want them to take is clear.

Katie’s CTA looks like this:

Good Good is a Boulder area real estate agency. We specialize in helping good people find the perfect Boulder home. We’re low pressure but high touch. If you’re looking for a real estate guide in the Boulder area, we may be a good fit. Give us a call if you’d like to chat. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about the Boulder area or give you a tour. 

If you need some help clarifying your message, take a minute to build your brand script and brand one-liner. Once you’ve got your script, come back to this step and write your CTA paragraph.

Step 5: Drive Targeted Traffic

The final step is driving the right traffic to your blog post. You can use Facebook ads, Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads, or Google ads to drive paid traffic. All of these platforms allow you to target very specific audiences.

Your business and niche will determine the best ad platform fit. It’s all a matter of being able to reach your ideal client in the most efficient and cost-effective fashion.

For high $$$ services, I recommend starting with Google ads. You’ve already researched Google and know there’s sufficient search volume. Now you just need to capture the attention of those people and channel them to your blog post. With a high $$$ service, you can afford to have a much higher cost per sale and still be highly profitable.

Google may cost a little more per click to get the traffic, but you know the traffic is from motivated people looking for answers.

You’re most likely on this post right now because of a Google ad.

I targeted you based on what you were searching for on Google. I know you will benefit from this post based on your search phrase. I’m able to hone in on helping people like you that fit my niche.

Katie uses Google ads to drive her efforts as well.

She’s closed well into 7 figures of business on $3,000 of ad spend. That’s what I call a return on your investment.

I don’t have the space to go into a full Google Ads tutorial here. The complexities require a dedicated post. In the meantime, here are two options to get you rolling.

  1. Go read this introduction to online marketing and Google ads (from Google).
  2. Reach out to me for some help. As you’ve seen from Katie’s note, this is part of what we do for companies.

Let’s Recap

Here’s a quick reference list of the tasks you need to tackle.

  1. Identify Your Niche – Be ‘the’ option for a small group of people rather than ‘an’ option for everyone. The best way to grow a big business is by focusing on a small group of people.
  2. Define A Problem – What problem can you solve for your niche? Perform Google keyword research to help you hone in on a specific problem with significant search volume on Google.
  3. Write A Blog Post – Create a step-by-step guide on how to solve the problem for your client (just like this one).
  4. Provide A Call To Action – Make the next step simple for your potential clients. Tell them exactly how they can work with you if they’d like, but deliver it with some brand personality. This CTA (call to action) should come at the end of your blog post and be no longer than one paragraph.
  5. Drive Targeted Traffic – Use Google ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, or LinkedIn ads to drive targeted traffic to your blog post. For high dollar services, I recommend starting with Google ads where you can target keywords and reach an audience actively looking for answers.

You’re ready to execute. Solve a problem and win some new clients!

Would you like to stop wasting money on the wrong marketing and start attracting the right clients? Our one-week Brand Recipe Sprint™ is a streamlined process where we’ll identify your niche, clarify your message, improve your marketing, and script your growth strategy. If you’re launching a new company, or if you’re at a plateau with your existing one, let’s schedule a time to chat and see if the Brand Recipe Sprint™ is a good fit to take your business to the next level.

5 Reasons Why Hourly Pricing Is Killing Your Business

My previous business was also a branding firm. I ran the firm for 14 years before selling to my partner late last year. We landed several billion-dollar brands and a spot on the Inc. 5000 during my time with the company. Even with this success, pricing was still a mystery over a decade into the business. We found ourselves asking…

Are we charging too much?

Are we charging enough?

Should we charge hourly?

Should we do project-based pricing?

Should we have fixed pricing?

Should we focus on retainers?

Should our pricing scale with the size of the client?

These are all legitimate questions everyone struggles to answer. The one thing I can tell you from first-hand experience is that hourly pricing is not the answer. I’ll give you 5 good reasons.

1. Surprises are never good on an invoice

Project-based pricing has a beginning and end. These projects typically have much clearer scopes and goals. You know what the client wants and can work to deliver a fantastic end result.

The client knows exactly what will be delivered and how much it will cost. There are no surprises when you send the invoice.

Hourly pricing projects often end with the client questioning the bill. They’re surprised at the grand total and variation from your estimate (even though they changed the scope).

Friction around the bill never translates into a positive relationship. In fact, it usually means a sour ending to a potentially fruitful client.

2. You’re turning yourself into a commodity

People naturally associate the idea of paying hourly with low level expertise. You wouldn’t pay a CEO, CTO, CMO, or any other C position hourly.

The only people paid hourly in an organization are the lowest level employees (the people who are most replaceable).

I’m not saying anything negative about someone who works for an hourly wage. I’m simply indicating that’s not how you want your clients perceiving you.

Your client inevitably starts treating you as an order taker rather than an expert. When this happens, they’ll shop around for the cheapest hourly rate that can take their orders and do a serviceable job.

3. Clients are paying you for results, not your time

I hire an architect because I want a badass house, not because I want 20 hours of his time.

You can only charge so much per hour. Even if you’re the best in the game, there is a ceiling on how high you can go with your fee. This is because people are thinking about how much they’re paying you per hour instead of the end result.

Project-based pricing flips this around so that the client is focused on the fantastic result they’re going to have. They aren’t fixated on what you’re making per hour and how much time you’re spending. All they care about is having that ridiculously sweet house that’s the envy of all their rich friends.

Simply put:

  • Project pricing lets the client know how much it costs to get their result. Or, what’s in it for them.
  • Hourly pricing lets the client know how much you think your time is worth. Or, what’s in it for you.

You’ll always win if you make it about delivering results for the client. Your marketing, sales, referrals, and profitability will all improve if you genuinely focus on client results.

4. People associate hourly billing with attorneys

Don’t laugh. I’m serious.

No offense to any lawyers reading this right now, but nobody likes paying you.

There isn’t another profession that is more synonymous with hourly billing. Don’t get me wrong, lawyers provide an absolutely vital role in our lives. This doesn’t change the fact that nobody likes paying them.

Attorneys charge for every phone call, email, or even when they think about you while they’re on the pot. Hence the nickname bloodsuckers.

Do you really want to be compared to a bloodsucker?

The hourly model always leaves your clients questioning whether you really spent that much time working on their project. You also build a contentious relationship where the client is wondering if they’re being charged for this email, call, or meeting over beers.

You never want a client hesitant to call you.

Relationships trump capabilities and you will experience far more churn and far fewer referrals if you don’t work to build quality relationships with clients.

If you can turn a client into a friend, you’ll have a client for life. Billing hourly is a formidable barrier to building these genuine relationships with clients.

5. You own your job, not a business

If you’re an individual or small team, charging by the hour just means you own your job. You aren’t working to build a business that has value. You can’t scale the business or ever hope to sell it for a decent return.

Even if you have a team of people working for you that all charge hourly, there is little value to potential acquirers as all they’re doing is buying employees.

On the other hand, you can systematize project-based pricing for higher margins and begin building value in your business.

Trading time for money just doesn’t pay as well as delivering results for money. People will always pay more for results.

Potential acquirers will also pay far more for a systematized business with a niche that doesn’t depend on a single person or hourly pricing. A purchaser wants to see a product that can be replicated by anyone with the proper training.

I know selling your business may seem like a crazy idea at the moment. You may think that you’re never going to sell, or that nobody would want to buy your business.

That’s probably true (right now), but you can change this with some planning and action.

Every entrepreneur should build with the end in mind. How do you want the story to end? Are you building something to pass on to your kids? Will you sell to an employee? Will you find an outside buyer?

Knowing the destination allows you to chart a course. If you want to sell for several million dollars, you’ll need to build a business with value, not just a job you own.

Hourly pricing won’t get you millions of dollars. Nobody will pay that much for an employee. Keep that in mind as you quote your next project.

Changing how you charge can dramatically increase the value of your business.

Final Thoughts

Clients want clarity and results. Unicorn clients (good ones) are willing to pay for those results. Project-based pricing allows you to focus the client on the result they’re paying to receive.

Hourly billing creates friction with clients. Your clients are focused on how much they’re paying you per hour and how many hours you’re spending instead of the fantastic end result. They’re worried that every interaction is costing them money so they are hesitant to communicate. This lack of communication makes building a relationship extremely difficult.

If you don’t have a relationship with the client, you’re just a commodity. Commodities are shopped on price and that’s a race to the bottom.

Nobody wins a race to the bottom.

Shift your mindset to be focused on the end result. Shape your message, process, and pricing around results instead of how many hours you’re going to work.

Everyone benefits when you get results.

I help small to mid-size companies unite their brand, business, and marketing strategy in a one week process that sparks sustainable growth. My passion is helping companies that work with clients where I can combine my personal entrepreneurial experience with my wealth of brand and marketing experience. If you want to get off the hamster wheel and grow, let’s see if I’m a good fit to help