I’m working with a brilliant therapist at the moment who struggles with attracting new clients to her business. We had our third meeting this morning over a punnet of blueberries and some liquorice tea (good for the liver she tells me). All her clients absolutely LOVE her and think she’s quite amazing (she really is) but she finds herself stressing over filling her courses, booking in one to one’s or getting the numbers together to make her fabulous raw food retreats profitable.
She’s beautiful, engaging, radiant, wise and generous. And she’s keeping her light tucked well and truly under her bushel of brown rice.
What’s going on here, I asked her. Where’s the struggle?
Of course if she knew the answer to that she wouldn’t have needed to come and get some help finding new clients for her business. So we talked about who her customers were and where they came from.
They are people like you, she said.
I knew that was true, because I had been a client. So we poked around a bit more in the ‘who are your customers’ bran tub of marketing insights. It turned out that almost ALL of her clients were friends or acquaintances that she’d met doing her own thing. That may have been people she’d met in a yoga class, or at a talk, or through friends, or in a meditation group, or workshop or event. They were all people who were impressed by her knowledge and expertise and delighted to be in her engaging and insightful company, because she is such a bright star.
So far so good: she had found a way to find more people ‘like me’ – a self selecting group of people who were also interested in optimum health and high level nutrition – people who already do yoga, are already engaged in health ergo are already waiting to become interested in nutrition if they aren’t already. This is the essence of marketing – identify a group of people who want your product and service, THAT YOU CAN REACH. The last bit is the important bit – a market is only a market if you can reach/communicate/engage/ with it. The wide group of friends my client had developed over the years were all potentially interested in my client’s service, and she could reach them – easily.
And very BIG BUT.
How many friends can you build a business on? Or to put it another way, can you build a business on friends?
What’s happening for my nutritionist friend is that she’s drawing on a relatively limited pool of potential clients and hitting on them over and over with invitations to join her events and courses. She enjoys a rewally strong core of support. But the same faces are showing up at her events every time. Yes new people do come into the circle, but the circle will always have to be group of people small enough for them each to have a personal relationship with my client. That means if she really wants her business to take off, she’ll have to find a new way to attract new clients and customers. She needs a strategy for winning new business.
Keep doing what you are doing, I told her.
But do MORE of it and do it mindfully and with purpose:
- Become aware of your way of working, your love of connection, relationship and engagement – own it, develop it, play with it
- Start to put MORE energy into working with this special strength
- Get out much more – attend more talks, more classes, more events and YES: can enjoy this!
- Find less intense ways to connect – give business cards, connect on twitter or facebook, make friendships less intense, lighten up!
- Start investing less in each one of these new relationships – you’ll never have the time to be a good friend to everyone you want to engage with – and widen your circle.
- Begin to start pushing out to meet different kinds of people, people that may not be quite like you and that feel a bit risky, take a few steps into the unknown
- Recognise this relationship building – or networking (the thing she says she doesn’t like doing) – is just ONE way of bringing new clients in, play with other ways of promoting yourself too and find things that you also enjoy.
And if you do all of that, you’ll learn to network from your heart to build a sustainable business you love.