Get More Clients and More Local Referrals

How do you break through all the noise and distraction in your niche and finally get noticed by the people who are a good fit for the business services you offer?

Great question, right? Everybody wants more clients. Clients are the lifeblood of your business. When the clients dry up, the blood stops pumping and the whole system seizes up and collapses. There’s a lot of information out there on this topic. But like most topics, we get overwhelmed when there are too many options and approaches to choose from.

Hopefully, I can simplify some concepts for you. That way you’ll be able to compare your notes with mine. Sometimes, all it takes is a tweak or two to turn the corner and go from not making any progress at all… to cruising down the open road with the top down and the music on.

Local Businesses Need You

I’ve been selling online services for a long time. I know the problems you face firsthand because I’ve gone through them myself. Even when you conquer a challenge, there are always new ones popping up to replace the old ones. Smooth sailing is more about your ability to climb through the ropes to face your next opponent than it is not having any opponents at all.

Before we go any further, I’d like to make a statement that gets right to the heart of the matter; Local businesses need your services.

Depending on where you are in your business at this current point in time, you may feel like the opposite is true. It may feel like no one needs you.

If you detach yourself from the picture for just a minute, it may be easier to say, “Business people need the type of service I provide,” than it is to say, “Business people need me.”

If that’s not true, then you have a different problem altogether. If you’re selling any kind of design, editing or marketing services – it’s safe to say that local business owners, managers, and the like, they’re all buying these services from someone.

Now, let’s insert YOU back into the equation. You – are – needed. If given the chance, you can prove that you’ll be an asset and not a liability. All you need is the opportunity.

I’m saying all of this because it’s important that you feel good about yourself, what you’re doing, and what your place is in the business world. Lack of confidence is a killer. Early on in what I might call my pre-career, I had to deal with a lack of confidence continually. No, you don’t have to be the best in the world. You must be able, however, to deliver whatever you promise. That should be simple enough, so we’ll leave it at that.

Can Local Businesses Easily Find You?

This is a tough question for some of you to answer. Especially if you rely heavily on referrals. I’ve received many referrals over the years. In my community, it seems that business owners are more apt to ask their colleagues for recommendations long before going the “cold search” route on Google.

The problem with this is – if you’re still unknown, no one is referring you.

How do you break in? In the past, it occasionally came down to being invited into what we’d sometimes call, “The Good Old Boys Club.” We see this in political circles a lot. If you’re in the “club,” you’ll get the jobs, contracts, etc. If not, you’re an outsider and you may as well be a leper.

The solution to this is to go around whoever or whatever you perceive to be as the “official channels” or “gatekeepers” and take your message directly to the people.

This may sound like a complicated, overwhelming task. It doesn’t have to be. Not today.

We have more tools that we could use in a lifetime to do just that.

Awareness Building in Local Markets

I realize it’s really easy to get hung up on labels when it comes to all the various forms of and approaches to digital marketing. Let’s wipe all of those off the table for now and use a word that everyone can easily comprehend. The word is awareness.

Instead of creating a marketing campaign, we’ll create an awareness campaign instead.

[spp-tweet tweet=”Instead of creating a marketing campaign, we’ll create an awareness campaign instead.”]

Our goal is to make an increasing number of people aware of your existence in your local marketplace from month to month.

If someone becomes aware of you for the very first time in January… then sees you again a few months later, and then a few months after that, what happens? You’re creating awareness. You’re creating familiarity.

In a practical sense, how do you start this process? What do you do?

In the past, most would focus on networking and social events. Today, you can do the same thing with what I like to refer to as LOCAL newsletters, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. In other words, the content is specifically designed for businesses in your local area.

Most online service providers starve in their own, local communities while attempting to build international connections. I get it, it feels great to say, “I have clients in 5 different countries besides the USA.” But, if upon closer examination, we discover you only have five clients in total (each in a different country) and you’re barely getting by, what good is that?

Creating Content that Entertains

If I were starting over, I think I’d create a Vlog (Video Blog) as a way of building awareness in my community. It would be a LOCAL video blog and I’d use it to talk about how the internet is affecting local business.

After a few episodes, I’d write a press release and announce it to my local media.

I’ve done TV and radio interviews locally. As cools as that may sound to you, online methods work 100% better unless you’re going to be doing TV and/or radio all the time.

Frequency speeds up the awareness process.

Because I have more of a teaching style, I’d use my Vlog to help local businesses get more clients using things like their websites, email, and the local media.

I’d have fun with it. Of course, if I were really starting from the very beginning, I’d be nervous about a lot of things. Is my content good enough? Does my voice sound okay? We can be our own worst critic. But, you can (and will) get beyond that in time.

Because there’s so much content out there today, people gravitate a little more towards content that has some kind of entertainment value. For example, there are things you like to talk about, and there are things people like to learn or hear about.

If you bring those two elements together, you can use that as a starting point to build upon.

How many people listen to business podcasts and interviews – not to take notes, but as a form of entertainment? The enjoy hearing different people’s take on the subject. It can be an enjoyable way to pass a little time. That’s what I mean by entertainment.

What kind of topics do you think your market might find interesting?

Creating Content for Your Clients

For me, everything began when I started creating videos for my clients. In some, I did walkthroughs to show them how certain processes work. In others, I shared ideas and strategy. I didn’t do the talking head type of videos. I didn’t feel like messing with things like backgrounds and lighting. I just clicked record (using Camtasia Studio), shared my screen and talked. I didn’t overthink it because I was communicating with people who were already clients.

The feedback was incredible. My clients loved the videos and were very appreciative that I took the time to make them. In a way, the video was my way of visiting with them. It was the next best thing to being there in person.

Did you ever listen to a podcast or watch a video, and you feel like you were there with the person? Sometimes there’s even a slight letdown when the video or the podcast ends because you were really enjoying it.

You can do that for your clients, too.

Start with one or two of them to get comfortable with the process. Then, you can create your “talks” for an entire group. You can even invite them to share it with their friends or associates.

Creating Content for “Would-Be” Clients

Creating content (videos, audios, etc.) for people who may do business with down the road can be done a few different ways. For example, I could create a “cold call video” for someone to show them how to improve something on their website. Or, I could show them how to claim their Google Business listing if they haven’t done that already.

I’m throwing suggestions out to you because there are many ways we can apply this approach. Remember, we’re talking about building awareness with a community that ultimately leads to real connections with people. There are many ways we can build awareness moving forward. We don’t need to approach this like it’s a high-pressure type of project.

We’re building goodwill; we’re building awareness. We’re using content to bring clarity on topics we’re familiar with that others aren’t. Clarity beats persuasion nine out of ten times if your goal is having people saying, “Yes,” to doing business with you.

What If You’re “Not Liked?”

No matter what you do or how you do it, just know that some people won’t like you. They won’t like what you say or how you say it. If you spend any time at all on social media, you know exactly what I’m saying.

People will hit the unsubscribe button. Some may respond by saying, “Take me off your list and don’t ever email me again,” even if you’re trying to help them free of charge.

No, it doesn’t feel good when you’re attacked or criticized. That’s just life. You’ll be tempted to second guess what you said and how you said it, especially if you’re new to marketing.

Had the Internet existed 60-years ago, people might have unsubscribed with nice reply comments like, “Thank you so much for contacting me. I’m not in the market for this service, though. Have a nice day. I hope your business does well!” And that would be that.

Today? Times have changed a bit.

How Should You Package Your Content?

So, what’s the best way to package your content? There are two approaches to this. The first is, what’s the easiest way for you to do it? This approach puts the spotlight directly on you. If I told you, “You really need to WRITE articles or posts,” and you don’t really want to write articles or posts, guess what?

You’re not going to stay with it.

Getting started is easy when compared with not stopping. We start things all the time. Then we quit.

Once you get started, the day will come when you’ll find yourself thinking –

  1. This isn’t so bad! I can do this going forward!
  2. This is a LOT of work. I don’t know how much longer I can stay with it?

Now, let’s take a look at the second approach. The second approach puts the audience front and center.

What do THEY want? Would they rather read or watch a video? Maybe audios a better fit?

Business is all about giving people what they want, right? With this approach, that’s exactly what we do.

Both approaches make sense. How do you decide?

I went with the first approach. I’d rather follow the path that’s sustainable for me over the long haul. If my style doesn’t resonate with some people, then they’re not the best fit for me… and I’m not the best fit for them.

So be it.

I’m not even going to attempt to be all things to all people.

Whichever approach is best for you – that’s the approach that’s best for you. Take it and don’t let anyone talk you out of it.

Will it Really Work?

And now, the million-dollar question; can you use what I shared in this article attract better clients to your business? Obviously, I believe you can, or I wouldn’t have gone into this topic with any kind of depth. I also believe it will work because I have 20+ years of tests, adjustments, and readjustments that shows me it does.

So, the only thing question left to answer is, will it work for YOU?

I believe that’s a question you need to answer for yourself. Not to oversimplify things, but I believe we only do what we can see ourselves doing. If you can’t envision yourself making certain changes, you probably won’t even get started. Think about it. Doesn’t it work that way?

If you can see yourself helping clients – sharing tips, insights, or ideas using videos or audios, it’s easier to get started. Once you get started, you’ll probably find a style or method that’s a decent fit for you. Then you build from there.

The most common mistake people make is spreading themselves too thin. Tools and technology can save time, but they’ll never do the deep work for you. That’s up to you. So be encourage, ninety-nine percent of your competitors won’t do the deep work… so in reality, if YOU DO, you have less competition than you think.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your own thoughts on this topic below.

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Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002. Jim has been interviewed by a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News in New York.

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About Jim

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002.

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