Archive for the ‘Establishing Rapport’ Category

How to Get Clients

How to Get Clients

Getting clients is a process, not an event.

You aren’t going to get them by selling your service like you were hawking a Shamwow.

Drop the tiresome, disingenuous, robotic “elevator speeches” as well.

No one likes being sold at. All that does is make people feel like you’re looking at them like they’re your next meal.

It certainly doesn’t foster any real, meaningful connection (and they won’t be able to get away from you fast enough).

There is more finesse involved in marketing a professional service-based business and developing honest rapport with potential clients.

It’s also not that difficult to do:

  1. Decide on a target market. A target market is simply an industry/field/profession you cater your administrative support to. This will give much-needed focus and direction to your administrative solutions, website marketing message, and marketing efforts. In turn, this will make you more interesting, memorable and compelling to potential clients. To learn more about target marketing and how it will help you grow your practice more quickly and easily and make more money, get my free guide on How to Choose a Target Market.
  2. Always be learning and studying your target market’s industry and work nearly as well as your own, almost as if you were going into that business yourself. It will help you understand them and their common needs, goals and challenges more intimately. This will naturally elevate your conversations, marketing message and solutions, making you more attractive to potential clients and raise your value to them.
  3. Network with your target market. This simply means putting yourself out there and talking to the people in your target market (these are your would-be clients after all), contributing to their conversations, adding your ideas, being helpful and making friends. Comment on their blogs. Join their online and offline forums and groups. Attend their business conferences. Read their publications and look for opportunities to get in front of their audience (e.g., Do they have newsletters you can publish or advertise in? Can you interest them in articles or a guest column written by you? Can you purchase ads?).
  4. HAVE A WEBSITE!!! It’s not enough to only have a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. People want to learn more about you on their own before they will ever contact you for a consultation. Your business website is that vital link that connects your networking and marketing to the next step in the conversion process: pre-educating prospective clients, setting proper expectations and understandings, and prequalifying your ideal clients while organically weeding out those you don’t want. You want to let your website speak for you at this stage. It’s job is to inform your site visitors and potential clients in more depth about who you are, what you do, who you do it for, and how you help them (i.e., how you improve their business and life). Not only will this help you get more consultations, the people who contact you will be more ideal and informed in the way you need them to be and far more likely to go on to become actual clients. If you need help building your website, implementing a proven client-getting process, and crafting your marketing message to get more clients and consultations, get my step-by-step guide, Build a Website that Works.
  5. Direct everyone and everything to your business website. Put the link in all your online and print marketing collateral. If anyone you converse with wants to learn more about what you do, send them to your website. Instruct your friends, colleagues and associates to send people to your website (not give out your email or phone number) when they want to refer someone to you. Provide useful resources your target market will find of value and interest (e.g., a report, a guide, an instruction manual, some kind of e-learning), and invite them sign up from your website to receive those items.

Is the haphazard hunting-and-pecking, trying to reach anyone-and-everyone method working for you?

No? Give these steps a try then and see how much faster and easier you can grow your  practice and get clients.

There Is No Secret to Marketing

There Is No Secret to Marketing

There is nothing magical about marketing.

There’s no closely guarded secret still waiting to be revealed to you.

There are no heavenly curtains to part and rain clients down upon you — if only you could find the draw cord.

A lot of people also waste huge gobs of time trying to cobble DIY SEO together.

They think if they can just crack the SEO code, millions of clients are going to mystically materialize out of the airwaves, and they won’t have to lift a finger to get them.

I’ve got news for you: That’s not going to happen.

And, your least qualified client candidates will be those who accidentally stumble upon your site on the internet.

SEO is the last thing you need to be concerning yourself with.

Here are the straight-up facts:

It’s true that there are some foundations you need to have in place first before marketing, such as your website, which is THE single most important conversion tool for your business.

BUT your website can’t be set up any ol’ haphazard way.

To get results (i.e., consultations and clients), it needs to instill trust, rapport and credibility.

To do that, there are some presentation basics you must follow.

You also have to understand the conversion process and have an intentional system in place to educate site visitors, in the right way, about what you do and who you do it for, organically prequalify your ideal prospects, and then move those folks to the next step in the process: the consultation.

Build a Website that WORKS!My Build a Website that WORKS guide shows you exactly how to do this.

Beyond that, you are simply going to have to get out there and TALK TO PEOPLE.

This is the ONLY “secret” to marketing and getting clients.

You can’t hide behind your computer and be silent. Nothing is going to magically do that work for you.

Choose a target market (which is simply an industry/field/profession that you cater your admin support to) so you can focus and hone your message.

​And then get out there (online and/or in person) and interact with them:

  • Join their groups (online and off).
  • Learn their business/industry/profession.
  • Ask questions.
  • Ask more questions.
  • Inquire about what their common goals and challenges are in their business/industry/profession.
  • Read and comment on their blogs.
  • Pay attention to the kinds of topics and conversations they have in their industry forums.
  • Write articles/blog posts for them and their topics of interests.
  • Find out what their industry associations and publications are and think about the ways you might be able to get published or in some other way get in front of their audience (e.g., can you take out an ad in their trade journals? Can you interest them in guest articles/blog posts?).

It is THESE interactions that will bring people to your website, which then should be set up to do the job of moving the right ones to the next step: the consultation. (My guide shows you how.)

At its core, marketing is very simply like making friends: introducing yourself, asking about others and being interested in them, and partaking in conversations and being curious and sociable (not salesy). No miracle marketing tonic needed.

Competitive Advantage Isn’t About the Competition

Competitive Advantage Isn't About the Competition

You all are smart enough to understand that “competitive advantage” has nothing to do with your colleagues, right?

“Competitive advantage” is about emphasizing those unique traits, attributes, experiences, perspectives and strengths that help your ideal clients connect with you.

It’s what helps bring your educational marketing message to life and stand out from the sea of rote, repetitive scripts that everyone else parrots.

It’s about illuminating your uniqueness, giving your right clients a reason to choose you, making it easier for them to recognize your special, extra sparkle and discern that you’re the right fit for them.

It’s not a competition with your colleagues.

It’s a communication that happens between you and your potential clients.

***

Have you thought about or identified your unique and extra attributes that clients enjoy when they work with you? Is this something you struggle with? Let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments. Maybe we can help. 🙂

Get a Free Gravatar to Improve Your Networking and Personal Brand Recognition

Get a Free Gravatar to Improve Your Networking and Personal Brand Recognition

Do you have a Gravatar yet? If not, I highly encourage you to get one right now.

What is Gravatar?

Gravatar (which stands for Globally Recognized Avatar) is a play on the word “avatar” which is a photo, image or other representation of you online. This free service allows you to upload a photo that it then automatically associates with whatever email address(es) you tell it to.

Once you set your account up, your Gravatar will display your photo beside your name whenever you comment or post on a blog, publish articles, set up profiles… a whole host of things.

This helps instantly and automatically identify your online articles, comments and posts on blogs, forums, websites, etc.

This is super helpful to you in your business because it puts a face with a name which makes you more memorable to people (any of whom could be your next potential clients).

By visually branding all your online content with your face, you stick out more. The more your face keeps popping up, the more people start to notice and recognize you wherever they go online.

This helps grow the “know, like and trust” factor exponentially; the more they see your face, the more they feel like they know you and can trust you.

You can upload any image you like; however, I suggest you avoid logos and caricatures. These do nothing to humanize your business.

Stick with a nice headshot. Your image packs a more powerful punch in creating rapport.

And there is no one you-er than you so it’s the utmost in unique and memorable “branding.”

That’s because first and foremost, people do business with people. They notice and look at photos of other people far more than any other kind of image.

It doesn’t even need to be by a pro as long as it’s clear and pleasant: fix your hair, wear something presentable and smile warmly. This will suffice until you are able to get some pro shots taken.

Setting your Gravatar up is quick and easy. You can add as many email addresses as you want and swap out your photo anytime. You can learn about more of its uses and how to do things on their support page.

And, like I said, it’s free, so there’s really no reason not to take advantage of this very handy marketing tool.

Go set your Gravatar up now, then post a comment below to see how it looks!

Picking an Email Name: Personal vs. Generic

Picking an Email Name: Personal vs Generic

I saw that someone asked about picking an email name, and I thought it was a great question.

Here’s my advice:

When choosing between your name (e.g., firstname@yourdomain.com or first.last@yourdomain.com) or something generic (e.g., admin@yourdomain.com or service@yourdomain.com), go with your name.

First, it’s more personable.

People do business with people. An email address with your name will create far more personal connection and rapport than something generic.

Those sending a message will feel more warm and fuzzy about you because they know they are reaching a real, live human being with name, not a cold, nameless, faceless entity.

Who wants to shake hands with a robot after all? (Wait, nerds, don’t answer that, lol.)

Second, generic emails (e.g., admin@yourdomain.com) are spam triggers. Many spam filtering algorithms see these as being sent by robots and will often sort them into the spam/junk mail folder.

If you want to make sure your message gets through while also nurturing personal connection with your prospects and clients, use your name: you@yourdomain.com or you.lastname@yourdomain.com.

(By the way, in the email account settings, be sure you enter your first and last name in the user information so when your email lands in someone’s in-box, they know exactly who it’s from and that it’s a real person, namely YOU.)

And since we’re on the topic, always use an email on your own domain.

Burner account emails (i.e., Outlook.com, Yahoo, Gmail) do nothing to help market your business.

For example, let’s say a contact refers your email to a potential client. Without your domain name on there, they have no clue what your website is (where they may want to go to find out more about you).

In this day and age, a service or provider without a website is one that gets dismissed out of hand. They might try to Google your name to see if something comes up.

On the other hand, they might not, especially when they have other service providers using emails on their own domain where they can instantly see where to go to learn more.

Make it easier for your prospects, because you never know when, where or how they might learn of you simply because they came across your email address.

Are Professional Headshots Necessary?

Are Professional Headshots Necessary?

A colleague asked this in our ACA LinkedIn Discussion Group the other day.

I thought it was a great question that would make for a perfect blog post!

So here’s my advice:

IF you have the ability and opportunity to get professional shots, by all means get them. Once you start looking for a good photographer, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at just how affordable this is. It’s a good investment AND a business expense write-off.

BUT if you don’t at the moment have the financial ability, use whatever means you have to take the best photos you can. Have a friend with a good eye take some shots of you. You can even pose yourself with instant feedback using your webcam or cellphone camera.

What’s important is that prospective clients and site visitors have A picture of you.

And that’s because people connect with people. It’s why dating sites always say that profiles with photos outrank those that don’t 10 to 1.

When people consult me for my help with their website, I recommend they provide a mix of photos:

  1. A good, close-up headshot wearing professional attire, smiling into the camera, looking friendly and approachable. Studies show that the bigger the eyes, the better. That is, the closer the shot, the larger and more close-up your eyes will be to theirs; that’s the important thing. By all means, let your personality and style show through. At the same time, simple patterns (or solid colors) and jewelry translate better in this kind of photography.
  2. A business casual/action shot. This one could be slightly more relaxed business attire, perhaps of you at a networking event or talking with a client, something like that.
  3. What I call a “lifestyle” shot where it’s you being a regular person wearing more casual, everyday clothing (i.e., non business/professional clothing, but not sloppy, lounging clothes either; you still want to project the image of professional and sloppy does not convey the idea that you are competent, energetic, professional and that you respect them and take their business seriously). Maybe it’s a shot of you with your family or a pet. Or maybe it’s you engaging in one of your hobbies (it may turn out to be an interest an ideal prospective client shares, who knows). The purpose here is to show yourself as a real person (not a robot).
  4. An intro video. It’s the next best thing to being there because they get even more of a sense of who you are as a person, how you speak, your gestures and mannerisms. Doesn’t have to be fancy; you can even use your webcam. Clean up your background (if you use a laptop cam, you have more ability to move around to find the most pleasant/interesting spot in your house or maybe even go outside as long as there are not any sound distractions). Put some nice clothes on and do your hair and makeup. You don’t have to dress to the hilt; something simple, nice and business casual is just fine. The idea here is to record a video of yourself talking directly to your site visitor/ideal client. Welcome them to your site, give them a quick overview of what they’ll learn there and/or how to navigate the site, thank them for stopping by and give them a call to action (e.g., “If getting support in your business sounds wonderful to you, click on the link to schedule a consultation. I look forward to talking with you!”. This is worth a thousand photos!
  5. A shot of your office. If you have a nicely decorated, professional looking office space set up, that can be a great picture to include as well so people can see where you work and that you have a professional/efficient set-up. Of course, if your “office” right now is more of a corner on the kitchen table, then that’s maybe not what you want to focus/emphasize for the time being. When I first started, we were remodeling our cabin and my computer was moved from corner to nook to cranny constantly, lol. We also had a second home where I had a more official set up, but since our main house was on literally ON the water (we lived in an exclusive waterfront community where all the homes were built on pilings over the saltwater Sound), I had a picture of my view on my website as that’s what my “office” was and it was interesting and unique and a good conversation starter. Once I got a more “official” looking space set up in our other home, I used that photo of what I light-heatedly called my “command center” to illustrate that I had things set up very professionally and competently and that they were dealing with a real business that did real work and was expertly set up and organized to do so.

A couple caveats:

  1. No glamour shots. These are not business appropriate photos.
  2. No old photos. If you’re in your 50s and the photo you’re using is one of you in your 20s, it’s time for a new photo. You want to be current and you want to show people the real you, out loud and proud, girlfriend!

Studies show that people LOVE pictures of other people. When there is a photo of a person, that’s where their eyes go first and they engage for far longer on websites that have one.

When you provide photos of yourself (at least ONE), it makes you infinitely more relatable to your site visitors and prospects.

No one cares whether it’s the most perfect professional shot or that you have the most expensive clothes or if you’re good-looking or not.

They just want to see/know WHO it is they are dealing with. It creates instant rapport and helps bond them to you.

If you want to get more consultations and clients, a photo (if not several) are EXTREMELY helpful (dare I say, a MUST even) to have on your website.

Are You Being Phoney-Baloney?

Are You Being a Phoney-Baloney?

It’s not necessary to be a phoney-baloney in your marketing to get clients.

If you’re a solo, don’t pretend you’re a bigger company.

When it comes down to it, that’s just plain dishonest, a lie.

Is that really how you want to start your valued new client relationships?

And what kind of clients will you end up with based on false pretenses?

What happens to trust once they find out they’ve been snookered, manipulated?

Trust, credibility and rapport are established through honesty and by demonstrating your competence, professionalism and capabilities through your writing, the presentation of your website and other marketing collateral, and the polish and effectiveness of your policies, processes and protocols.

I get that people want to help clients see how skilled, competent and credible they are, and that some think the only way to do that is to portray themselves as bigger as if they have more people involved in their business than there actually are.

But dishonesty is never the answer.

Engaging in false presenses belies your own low professional self-esteem and the belief that you are not enough, that the way you operate your business as a solo is not enough.

It’s also presuming that prospective clients have any problem with it.

Imagine the better fitting clients you would get, client it would be more joyful to work with, simply by sharing honestly the size of your business and how you operate, and being the real you.

I have two categories on my blog here with posts that will help you learn how to instill trust and demonstrate your competence without being dishonest or unethical:

Trust & Credibility
Demonstrating Your Expertise

Check ’em out!

Dear Danielle: I or We?

Dear Danielle:

I have been struggling with “me/I” versus “us/we” when wording my website. The reason I am asking is because I will have my daughter helping on occasion. Do you think that the “we” sounds more professional than the “I”… or should I just represent as a one-woman-show? Thoughts? —Katie Burke

Hi Katie 🙂

I have people who help me in my business as well. However, I predominately use “I” and “my company” because the rapport I want developed is between me and my prospective clients.

I also want to underscore the fact that it is a partnership in which we will be working one-on-one together. I won’t be abdicating or outsourcing our relationship or their work to outside third-parties.

Your website content should be a conversation between you and your ideal prospective client. If you want to bond your reader to you, you make it personal (“you”) and write in the present. Talk with that person as if he or she were sitting right there across from you.

And always remember that your conversation should be focused on and about that other person in the conversation. Done right, you should have a lot more “you” and “your” in there than “I”, “me,” and “my.”

5 Simple Steps to an Effective Author’s Bio

Ever wonder how to write up a little bio for your “about the author” box? It’s really easy. Here are my 5 simple steps:

1. State who you are and how you help clients. In one sentence, make it clear what you do (your business category), who you do it for (target market) and ultimately what problem you solve for them (e.g., what does the result of your work ultimately provide for clients?).

2. Focus on them, not you. No one cares about your background, what all your professional designations or affiliations are, how many years experience you have, blah blah blah. They care about how you can help them, what you can do for them. This is the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”) factor and you always want to write from that perspective.

3. Use “you” and “your,” not “me, me, me.” What I mean is that you want to write using the 2nd person point of view (“you,” “your”). This draws the reader into your message by making it personal.

4. Include a call to action at the end. A “call to action” is a sentence that tells the reader exactly what to do next. This is part of the proverbial marketing funnel that leads readers to your website and onto your mailing list. Example: “For more free strategies for success, subscribe to my Biz Tips ezine at….”

5. Keep it short and sweet, about 3-5 sentences. No one wants to read your life story, and your call-to-action will get lost in the details if you make the reader work too hard to get to the point (i.e., WIIFM?).

Is this post helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments!

Dear Danielle: How Do I Get Over Blogging Writer’s Block

Dear Danielle:

There are so many things to consider in starting or re-starting a business, as I’m sure you know. At this point, there are so many different marketing avenues to promote our business and the industry as a whole.  Let me tell you, I am so excited about this up and coming ‘virtual’ profession.

One of the areas I was going to start off with again is a blog. And you are correct – sometimes it’s difficult to come up with ideas or topics to talk about. Frankly, sometimes I even think before I start to write ‘What could I possibly have to say that may make a difference in someone’s life?’ or ‘Do I really have anything to offer to benefit the VA industry – individually and as a whole?’

Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome this writer’s block or how to research what topics would be interesting to my peers and potential customers?

Oh, you know I do. 😉

My first bit of clarity for you is to stop thinking you need to write for your peers and the industry. You are wasting your business building time and energy.

I can’t tell you how many people I see and mentor who complain about not having clients and needing to get more clients–and then waste all their time and energy talking to and blogging for each other instead of their would-be clients!

You may have heard the phrase “wasted real estate” when experts talk about how business owners waste valuable website space with content that has nothing to do with anything when it comes to attracting clients and being of interest to them.

In the same way, you don’t need to be writing for your peers or for the industry. They are not your clients. If that’s what you’re doing, you’re wasting one of your most valuable pieces of marketing and networking “real estate.” If you are starting your business or trying to grow it and attract more clients and be of service to them, write your blog for them.

And my second bit of advice for getting over writer’s block is to get a target market.

(For those who don’t know, a target market is a specific field, industry or profession you focus your business support on.)

Of course you will be at a loss as to what to write about when you don’t know who you are talking to. When you try to write for anyone and everyone, you end up being interesting to no one.

This is yet another way having a target market helps you:  it gives you clarity, focus and direction. When you know who you are talking to, it’s easier to know or figure out what is going to be of value, use and interest to them. And this is what will help make your content far more interesting, useful and compelling.

A few other little blogging tips:

  • Make sure you have several ways for your target market to subscribe to your blog. First and foremost, use a service like Aweber which will help you build your list and automate the distribution of new post notifications to these subscribers. Make the subscription form your most prominent feature in your upper right sidebar (“above the fold”).
  • There will be people who prefer to subscribe by RSS or with things like Networked Blogs. Give them those options as well. However, if you are interested in building your list, you may want to feature those options less prominently.
  • Give your blog a title and/or tag line so that your target market knows instantly that your blog is especially for them.
  • Survey your subscribers periodically. Pick their brains. Ask them questions. Your blog isn’t just a way to connect with clients. It can also be an excellent research tool for getting to know them better and find out more about what their challenges and common goals and interests are in business–which is going to help you in your business and offerings to them as well as knowing what to write about for them.