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Archive for August, 2009

 During this past Christmas season, I snuck off between meeting clients to buy my daughter a “hanging paper lantern” .  In the parking lot of the store, I drove slowly past the client I was meeting in the next 15 minutes.  She was in her car driving towards me and I was in mine. 
I am a little emberrassed to tell you how I tried to get her attention. I began waving frantically, tapping on my window, saying, “Jessica… HEY… Jess – it’s me!!”  Of course she could hear none of this, and kept focusing on the road ahead.  At the last minute, I laid on the horn, and she finally looked up.   Finally, I had done the OBVIOUS thing to get  her attention… all just to say, “HEY!”
Anyway, I immediately started thinking about how many of us do the same frantic waving and tapping on glass and shouting, “HEY!” to our potential customers in business… all while feeling like there is NOTHING more we can do… and  ignoring the OBVIOUS solution to the “I need more clients NOW” dilemma many are facing right now.  So, if a HORN is the obvious way to get another driver’s attention, what is the obvious way to cultivate more clients NOW? 
I am so glad you asked, because I needed to make something productive out of the foolish display I described above. 🙂   It does feel foolish when you keep doing the same things trying to capture the attention of your market – all with little or no resutls.   Where do you go from there?  The solution is in “doing the obvious”.
First, think of the things that you are doing NOW to attract clients.  Many business owners have the following list, or something like it:  Attend Networking Meetings regularly (sometimes even weekly), Send Out Press Releases, Market through Articles, Paid Print or Radio Advertising, sending out CRAZY LOW price discounts or coupons, or Paid Listings in phone books, etc.  Does this list sound a BIT familiar to you? 
While I am not prepared to say there is NO value in these activities, (I do two of these things myself… but only two.) what I CAN say with absolute certainty is that these activities keep you focused in the WRONG place.  You see, each of these activities is meant to drive the MASSES to you. 

 

Look at it this way:  Let’s create the visual that you are the BULLS EYE of your social circle.  The next circle outside of yourself is your family and very close friends.  The next circle is your acquaintances and current customers.  The next circle may be your networking contacts and so on… all the way out to the circle FARTHEST from yourself:   your “market” of strangers – whom you have never met but whom you may be spending a bunch of time and money to “reach”.    These activities described above are an effort to bring this “market of strangers” to you.  
The OBVIOUS (and most quickly profitable) action is to do the opposite.  Start with your “inner circles” and MOVE OUT… I affectionately call this “client cultivation” tip:  “SPREADING LIKE A FUNGUS” through your market.  Building your business FIRST through the people that already know, like and trust you. 
To do this, you must be able to CLEARLY articulate WHO you help and HOW.    Here is a quick  example: 
You know how lots of business owners spend a bunch of money on paid advertisements or marketing efforts that don’t prove very profitable?   (Typical response is,”Yeah.. I spend $XXXX on a ______ ad that got a very low response.”)  Well, I help those business owners capitalize on the money they have already spent on advertising while leveraging what they already have at their disposal to create profitable referral-based businesses in less time than they thought possible.”
 Next, you must be willing to ASK for help building your business and spend time to build RICH relationships with those referred to you and those referring to you. 
Does this seem overly-simplistic?  Maybe.  But, super effective none the less.  So, how can you get started?
  • Make a list of all the people who know and love you.
  • Make a list of all of your “astonished” clients who have grown to depend on you.
  • Acknowledge BOLDLY that this list has the potential of generating ALL the business you will ever need or want.
  • Write a letter to these “inner circles” contacts and tell them (or remind them) about WHO you help and HOW.   Be sure to let them know that you have committed to growing your business through serving people WELL and developing a referral based business.  Ensure them that you will treat each referral with “red carpet” priority…
  • Follow up with EACH person who refers a potential client to you… NOT with a simple “thank you”… but with a conversation that demonstrates how their friend was changed and helped by their referring them to you. 
So, if you want more business NOW, do the obvious thing:  HONK!!  
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May I share a shameful secret with you?  

I have recently shared (a bit) on facebook about my recent driving issues… including 4 speeding tickets and a failure to stop at a stopsign ticket…. all in about 3 months.  Not good. 

But, if I were to be completely honest, my driving record is a long list of shameful secrets for me…   To say I have a “lead foot” is merely scratching the surface.   My driving history includes all of the following:   (Please keep reading… I promise this absolutely applies to your business!!)  
            
            DRIVING PRIOR TO GETTING MY DRIVERS LICENSE
            GETTING KICKED OUT OF DRIVERS EDUCATION            
            ATTENDING FIVE “DRIVERS SCHOOLS” (to get positive points to counteract my    “speeding” points)
            RECKLESS DRIVING (over 20 mph over speedlimit)
            FOLLOWING (a police officer) TOO CLOSELY 
           
 I was voted (by my entire Senior Class – as a joke), “Most Likely to be a Driver’s Ed Teacher” in high school! Bottom line:   Speed Limits Are Made to be Broken!!  

In business, we can reach our goals SLOW… or we can reach them FAST.  I vote FAST.  I am not interested in “incremental” gains… these are too much like “cost of living” increases bestowed upon us at work.  They are not attached to the value we offer, or how we “perform” our duties.  

In business, our income will be a direct reflection of the value we offer our clients.  GIVE value exponentially, and watch your income RISE exponentially.   To SPEED!! 

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