Mar 14, 2017
Whenever small business owners gather together, especially ones that depend on having clients, patients, or students — a topic that always comes up is: “How do YOU get more [clients/patients/students]?!”
It’s a good question. It’s one every business should either be asking or already know the answer to. But not everyone knows the answer, which is why that question rolls off the tongue like water off a duck.
(Do all three for maximum effect!)
If you’ve been in business for a while, gather a list of ALL your customers. When I didn’t have a database of customers readily available, I went back through my calendar for the previous two years and wrote down the names of each client.
The goal with this exercise is to write a couple highlights and low-lights of my working experience with these clients. Were they absolute gems? Did they cause way too much drama? Were they vocal about how much they enjoyed working with you?
After going through each customer, you’ll probably start to recognize a trend. Even if it’s: “Ugh. All my over-worked, over-salaried customers severely undervalued my services.” That’s gold. Even if the trend you notice is a negative trend, it’ll point you in the direction where you can avoid finding those folks in the future. But if it’s: “All my cubicle-worker, mid-career folks adored everything we did together.” That’s great too.
The goal is to find the common threads amongst your previous clients. Those threads can either point you to the folks you’ll want to avoid attracting through your marketing or highlight the ones that you want to work with more.
Note: If you’re just starting out in business, then you can still do this by completing it in an “ideal world” mindset. The ultimate goal is to create a list of characteristics of people you want to work with or don’t want to work with.
Take this same list of folks and get curious about what their life was/is like right before they meet you. Where do these people hang out? What kind of mental state are they in right before getting introduced to you? What’s their lifestyle like? What kind of errands do they run, if any? What are their biggest problems/fears in life, even if you don’t directly solve those?
Getting into what life is like for your customers right before they meet you is powerful knowledge. Use it.
Once you’ve collected all this (and let’s call it what it is) market research (gasp!), you can tell a story about your future ideal clients. Pull together all the details into a story. Then walk that story right up to your door/website/booth.
Example: If your favorite students are creative, free spirits with over-achieving, helicopter parents then you’ll know that 1) pricing yourself slightly higher than the others in your industry will communicate to the parents that you are the best in your field, 2) the parent’s ultimate pain-point is the fear that their child will fail at life, so using authentic-to-you wording which eases and speaks to that fear will be highly effective, 3) we all know those parents talk to each other so a referral program might work wonders!
Yes, you’ll need to get creative with this part. It’s not easy. In fact people, like me, get paid thousands of dollars to do this for large or small companies. So, if this exercise of turning-data-into-a-valuable-story doesn’t come easy at first, don’t fret.
My best advice is to just get really curious. Ask as many questions as you can. Use your history and current knowledge set to learn more about your own business’s future.
If you get stuck at all, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and ask a question! I’m happy to help!
Emily Ann Peterson is a singer-songwriter, teaching artist, consultant, and creative entrepreneur who spent 17 years with her cello. It was her second voice until she was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological hand tremor. Refusing to resign to fate and genetics, she expanded her skills to include the piano and solo songwriting. This act of neurological defiance broke through her creative glass ceiling and then swept her up in the expansive limits.
Her podcast, Bare Naked Bravery, features conversations with everyday heroes about the quiet successes and loud failures required to do the brave things for which we know and love them.
Peterson’s mission is inspire a global resonance and magnanimous community through the marriage of art and whole-person development.
She is available here: www.emilyannpeterson.com