Archive for the ‘Getting Clients’ Category

Trust and Confidence: Are Your Potential Clients Feeling It?

Trust and Confidence: Are Your Potential Clients Feeling It?

Here’s what you have to always remember about clients looking to hire you: They don’t know you.

You know you, but they don’t know you.

Sure, they might have seen something you wrote–an article or a post on a forum, perhaps–and had their interest piqued.

Or they were given your name by someone they know and whose opinion they value.

But other than that, they don’t really know you.

And so they are nervous, understandably.

It’s a big commitment to decide to work with a business they don’t know.

They have a lot riding on the line. They have a challenge to solve or need to make their business run easier. They dread having to start all over again with someone new and want to make sure their decision is the right one.

This is why they are always looking for evidence.

They want to see clues that demonstrate you actually may be every bit as great at what you do as you say you are.

They want to feel trust and confidence.

So how do you do that? How do you help instill the trust and confidence potential clients are yearning for?

It’s surprisingly simple:

  1. Present a website that demonstrates your competence. What does that mean? Here’s an example: If you say you’re the grammar queen, but your site is littered with misspellings and incorrect punctuation, you can forget about clients thinking you are any good at what you do. No matter what you say you are, it must be backed up visually and in practical demonstration. Even if the thing you do for a living has absolutely nothing to do with spelling, writing or typing, people still buy with their eyes (an analogy coined by Harry Beckwith). They will directly correlate the professionalism and competence of your website (and other marketing collateral) with your actual skills and qualifications for the thing you are in business to do. It all has to match. It’s called walking the talk and looking the part.
  2. Present a website that shows you care. When you care about the presentation of your own website, you are telling your site visitors that you take pride in what you do (a pride-filled service provider is a MUCH better service provider) and that you are invested in their business and the work you want to do for them. Soooo many people think this isn’t important, but it is actually one of the most important things you can do to instill trust, confidence and rapport. If your site shows a lack of effort, if it’s sloppy and lacks any originality whatsoever, what gets communicated is that you are someone who will only exert the least amount of effort possible. That’s not very inspiring, is it?
  3. Give them someone to connect with. Whether you are a solo or the head of a big company, people do business with people. Put your name and face up there prominently so they know who is talking and they have someone to relate to. It’s an instant rapport builder and will make them feel so much safer and more comfortable.
  4. Speak and write like a real person. Corporatespeak is soooo over. Please know I say this in the most loving way, but you really gotta take the stick out of your arse and be a human being! Stop with all the pretensions and being so stiff, formal and uptight. Speak directly to your site visitor as a person, as if you were in a real conversation with him or her. Do this in your writing and in your recordings and videos. Look in their eyes and smile. Let your words be warm and human.
  5. Talk about them, not you. Sure, there’s going to be a sprinkling of “I” and “we” in there, but overall you should be talking about your ideal client and his/her goals, challenges and objectives and what you can do for them. Your copy should mostly be using the words “you” and “your.” If it’s not, go in there right now and turn those sentences around.

CHALLENGE: Today, go through your website. Fix typos and misspellings. Ask someone else to proof. Reword your sentences to focus on “you” and “your.” Make sure all your graphics are rendering correctly and fix any sizing that make them appear wonky. Double-check that all links are active and go to the right pages. A site that is checked and updated regularly is a site that will instill trust and credibility in clients.

(This post originally appeared in The Portable Business ezine on November 22, 2010.)

Dear Danielle: Is It Difficult to Rank or Be Found in Search Engines Using the Term Administrative Consultant?

Dear Danielle: Is It Difficult to Rank or Be Found in Search Engines Using the Term Administrative Consultant?

Dear Danielle:

I am only two months in to this business, but I wanted to know how to handle SEO, keywords and marketing using the term Administrative Consultant. Is it difficult to rank or be found in searches? —DW

This is a question that is frequently asked. For example, here’s one I got from someone back in 2011 who was wholly misinformed how SEO works:

This is terrific advice (as always!), but here’s one problem: for the purposes of search engine optimization, the term “virtual assistant” is invaluable to attract people to your site. People don’t know to look for an admin consultant, so SEO advice says the VA terminology needs to appear repeatedly in out web copy. I’ve gone through my site (which already had an unfortunate domain name chosen before I found YOU and all your amazing insights) and I’ve taken out every instance of the word “assistant.” Now I feel better, but also utterly unsearchable. What’s a girl to do??

She could not be more wrong. Keyword stuffing has been poor website/SEO practice and obsolete for I don’t know how many years now, well before 2011.

Here’s how to understand this:

Your title isn’t for marketing (or SEO) purposes.

It’s for setting proper expectations, understandings, mindset and perceptions in prospective clients, which is a whole other topic that has nothing to do with SEO.

No one even needs to know your term/title to find you. (Remember, there was always a first someone in every new industry; how do you think they survived and succeeded?)

Because how they find you isn’t due to what you are called, it’s what problem, pain or challenge you can solve for them. Your title has nothing to do that that.

Marketing is about having a target market (which is simply an industry/field/profession that you cater your administrative support to) and then networking and interacting with the folks in your target market to create your own pipelines for those people to get to know and come find you.

People who randomly find you on the Internet are few and far between and rarely are they qualified, ideal candidates.

SEO is the least relevant, and poorest quality way people will find you (at least in terms of how the misinformed person above was advising).

SEO is also a highly specialized, sophisticated area of expertise. It most certainly cannot be reduced to merely “just add your keyword all over your website and you will be found.”

Most laypeople these days do not know how SEO works, and especially not now in the age of the Google Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird algorithm updates.

SEO simply does not not work anymore the way most people think it does. They’re stuck in outdated understandings from 5, 10 years ago.

If getting clients was as simple as slapping an industry term all over your web pages, everyone would be rich and overflowing with clients. (This is the erroneous logic of those who think the only way clients will find them is if they call themselves a virtual assistant.)

But that’s just not how SEO (or marketing, for that matter) works, and you’re not going to get found that way.

Plus, results are personalized these days. When you see these people crowing about how they’re on the first page of search results, what they fail to realize is that’s only because the search engines are smart enough to know they’re interested in their own website.

They might be on the first page of their own search results, but page 10, 20 or 200 for anyone else.

And, if your site is new, your site is going to rank even worse. No over-saturated industry term is going to change that; in fact, your results will be worse with an overused search term.

Forget SEO right now. It’s the least important thing for you to be focusing on.

Paradoxically, the less you worry about keywords, and the more you focus on simply writing like a real person specifically and conversationally to your target market and providing in-depth educational information for them, the better your site will fare organically in the search engines.

This is because search engines these days value high quality content written by people for people and the fact that those characteristics foster more and higher quality inbound links and referrals. They are that smart.

If you are going to worry about keywords and phrases at all, it’s your TARGET MARKET’S industry search terms and phrases you need to be focused on using, not ours.

Here again is where having a target market makes everything in business so much easier.

When you have a target market, you stop wasting time and energy trying to be found by anyone and everyone and focus instead on that just that specific group and where those folks are hanging out in large groups, online and off.

You should be networking amongst them, and if you are, then you should also be directing everyone you meet (through your signature line, through your calls to action, through your free offers, etc.) to your website.

When it comes to SEO for your website, stop focusing so much on our industry terms and focus instead of the industry terms and search phrases of your target market. What topics are they frequently conversing with each other about? What problems and pains are they trying to solve? How can you include or adapt your content on your website to address these subjects?

For example, someone in your target market isn’t going to set up Google Alerts for our industry, but they certainly are for their industry and the related kinds of things they do and are interested in.

Those are the kind of keywords and phrases you want to use in your search engine marketing and optimization.

But SEO is never the lead driver of traffic to your website.

It’s your networking and relationship marketing efforts that create the real and better qualified pipelines. You’ll get far better results placing your focus there.

Download Your Free Copy

How to Choose Your Target Market

Happy Sunday! :)

I just completed an updated version of my guide How to Choose Your Target Market.

Clarified some concepts and instructions that I think will help people more easily wrap their brains around target marketing and how to choose the right one for them.

Even if you already have this guide, this is a new and improved up-to-date version so you’ll definitely want to grab your copy (it’s still free!).

You will build your business, get clients and make more money more quickly and easily with a target market.

Having a target market makes EVERYTHING easier in your business.

Here’s the link: How to Choose Your Target Market

It’s My Birthday (and a Special Deal for you Today Only)

It's my birthday (and a special deal for you today only!)

It’s my birthday! I’m eating cake today and no one is going to stop me, lol.

In honor of my birthday, I have a special deal for you:

Today only, you can get my Build a Website that WORKS marketing guide for half off!

Just type this code into the discount field when you check out and you’ll get this guide for only $74.50: itsmybirthday

One of the biggest problems in our industry is a proliferation of websites all saying the same things. Here’s how this happens:

When someone is new in business, they have no idea where or how to start crafting their website and marketing message.

So what do they do?

They look around at everyone else in the industry, see what they are doing and saying, and just imitate that (or worse, straight up copy and plagiarize).

They think, “Oh, this is what everyone else in the industry is doing and saying. That must be what I’m supposed to be doing and saying on my website, too.”

And then that’s exactly what they do.

So this is a common practice, but it’s not a good one when it comes to putting together your website and crafting your marketing message in a way that gets you results–i.e., CLIENTS.

The problem with this is they are assuming the masses know something they don’t.

What they fail to realize is those people did exactly the same thing as they are doing now, without any more knowledge or understanding–or success.

It’s this crazy, self-perpetuating cycle of monkey-see, monkey-do with people copying people who aren’t doing any better than they are.

On top of that, all copying what everyone else in the industry is doing and saying does is make you and your business that much more invisible in the marketplace. You need to stand out, not blend in.

In fact, websites that all do and say the same thing is one of the top complaints I hear year after year from clients who contact me. It’s completely frustrating to them.

And when you don’t give prospective clients any reason to see you as different, they always resort to price-shopping. Because all you are to them then is another box on a shelf… a commodity (the kiss of death).

You have to keep in mind: you are not your ideal client. And our own industry is not your prospective client or target market. You can’t look at things through your eyes or the lens of our own industry.

So now you might be thinking, “Well, if I shouldn’t do that, what DO I do? How DO I figure out how to write my own marketing message in a way that differentiates me and resonates with those I’d like to be my clients?”

That is exactly what you get with my guide, Build a Website that WORKS!

You don’t even need to be a good writer (which is another myth people believe).

Not only do I share with you my own conversion system and exactly how to implement it on your own website in a way that is unique to you, I walk you step by step by step through the process of writing your own unique, compelling marketing message that speaks your target market’s language.

With my original patented, proprietary plug-n-play tool, your copy will practically write itself. There is no easier way to put together a website and craft your marketing message anywhere that I’ve seen.

So check out Build a Website that WORKS!, and if it’s for you, be sure to take advantage of this one day half-off offer. It’s gone tomorrow so act now.

(Have some cake today, too!)

Dear Danielle: Do You Ever Feel Pricing Remorse?

Dear Danielle: Do You Ever Feel Pricing Remorse?

Hi Danielle:

I wanted to know if you had ever felt what I call “pricing remorse” when you were starting out? Let me explain. A colleague recently contacted me to help with a project. After receiving all the information and discussing the details, I initially felt the project was too small and not really worth my time. Instead, I decided to help. I sent the colleague my pricing (using your pricing guide, I calculated what I felt was reasonable for my time & effort) and project requirements. Shortly after, the colleague graciously thanked me and declined. This left me feeling a bit shocked, but also kind of guilty. I started to doubt myself and the questions began to flow. Was I asking too much? Should I have asked for more information? Did I not do my job to convey my skills properly? During our conversation, did I come off as an apprentice? Was this the unideal or cheap client Danielle spoke about? So on and so on. I heard you talking in my head saying, “Don’t devalue yourself” but I’m still left with a bit of guilt. Any thoughts/suggestions, as always, are greatly appreciated. —Name withheld by request

Thanks for your question.

It’s been so long ago, I don’t remember if I had “pricing remorse” per se. But I of course had my own learning curve when I first started out, definitely.

When I was new, I was charging waaaaay too little. What I eventually realized is that instead of second-guessing what I was charging when I got rejections, I was talking to the wrong prospects in the first place. My fees weren’t the problem.

Once I started charging more, and got clear about who I was specifically looking to work with (i.e., my target market), I got better clients. This is practically an immutable law of business.

And I quit wasting time and energy on the wrong audience.

But let me tell ya, there were a whole lotta learning experiences in there before I figured all that out, lol.

So, first thing is I want you to know is these are perfectly normal growing pains in a new business. You’re figuring out where your footing is so there’s naturally going to be some feelings of being unsure of yourself.

Knowing that, I hope it will be easier for you to just embrace the unsureness, knowing that with each conversation and interaction you have with each potential client is going to help you get your business bearings and build your confidence. It’s all part of the journey.

I am a little unclear about what you’re really feeling. You mention “guilt,” but guilt over what? What do you have to feel guilty about? I’m not sure I’m understanding what you mean by guilt.

There’s nothing to feel guilty about in determing your fee and asking for it. There’s no wrongdoing in that.

Maybe what you mean is you feel rejection, that in reality you were hoping to get the project, and it hurt when they declined, and now you’re thinking should have asked for less. Is that more the case?

Either way, I do have some thoughts to help you explore all angles here.

First, before you let a rejection bring you down, we need to remember the situation were talking about. This was for a project, not a retained relationship of ongoing support.

And it was for a colleague, not an ideal client in your target market.

Always remember who you’re target market is. Colleagues are not your clients.

One of the reasons colleagues are not your clients is because we’ve got a whole lotta people in this industry who think they should be paying bake sale prices. These are not serious prospects. You can’t set your fees according to what non serious prospects want to pay.

So don’t fret over a situation that wasn’t even with someone in your target market for ongoing support in the first place.

My feeling is that our first instincts usually end up being the best. You gave her a price that you felt was right. All you’re doing now is second-guessing yourself. There’s no reason to do that over something that wasn’t even a real piece of business in the first place.

All of this does lead me to wonder, given that your initial reaction was that the project wasn’t of interest, why did you bother wasting your time then?

I mean, you are always free to do whatever you want in your business. Of course. At the same time, you always want to remember the standards you have set for yourself and your business. When we start stepping over our standards, trying to make a fit out of that which isn’t a fit, that’s when we create problems for ourselves.

Lastly, when it comes to pricing, and conducting consultations, and then having the pricing conversation with clients in a way that gets you more yeses, there are some tips I could give you, but they wouldn’t help you because you haven’t yet purchased my client consultation guide (GDE-03)  or my pricing and packaging guide.

You wouldn’t have the right context and these are topics that are more involved than I can help you with here in this format.

You really need to invest in that learning if you want to grow from this situation and my guides are going to help you immensely with that. I’m really hoping you do that, for your benefit. Because when you get the knowledge and learning to navigate these conversations, you’re going to have a lot better results and more successes—in any kind of client scenario.

Dear Danielle: How Do I Respond to this Client Inquiry?

Biz Question? Ask Danielle

Dear Danielle:

A prospective client contacted me recently saying she found me on the ACA website. She said she was looking to “hire a VA as soon as possible.” Her entire approach was as if she was hiring an employee and spouted off a list of “job duties” before she’d even asked ME what MY process is for consulting with clients. It’s like she didn’t even bother reading my website. I’d appreciate your advice on answering this type of email. —Anonymous

Well, she’s already a disrespectful moron if she says she found you on the ACA site, but is calling you a VA, because no where on your site or the ACA website does it say you are a VA. You quite clearly identify yourself as an Administrative Consultant.

And I say “disrespectful” because it is ill-mannered to call someone by anything other than the name/title they give. That’s a sign of a self-centered person, someone who is already disregarding you right out of the gate.

For me, this would be a red flag because people who are oblivious like that are not ideal clients.

People who don’t read my website are also not ideal clients because it shows that they don’t pay attention and are going to be difficult to work with.

If it were me, it’s entirely possible I wouldn’t even bother responding because I don’t even know how to deal with people who get such basic, intrinsic etiquette wrong like that. It would be like if she called me Diane instead of Danielle. I see no need to waste my time and energy on people who don’t arrive at the table with proper attention to certain manners and details.

I know from experience that kind of person would not be a good fit for me because I would be having to constantly point out all kinds of other obvious things to them beyond that, and they would annoy and exasperate me.

But that’s me.

The thing is, I can’t advise everyone on how they should respond to all their various individual inquiries specifically.

That’s your job in your business.

And it wouldn’t help solve the issue anyway.

What’s really going on is that your website content is very vague and generic so it’s not doing a good job of pre-educating your site visitors about what you do and who you do it for.

There’s nothing there now that is setting proper expectations and understandings so they approach the relationship in a professionally respectful and business-like manner (hence their employer-like demeanor).

And there are no systems in place on your site to help prequalify ideal client candidates and weed out those who aren’t going to be a fit. (Is this really a viable prospect? Is this person even in your target market? )

You’re going to get a lot of random inquiries like this until those things change.

What is going to help you is a) getting clear about what you want to do in your admin support business, b) getting clear about what specific industry/profession you want to cater your admin support to (this is called a target market in business terms), and c) fixing your website and implementing a strategy and conversion system for getting more of the exact kind of clients you’re looking to work with.

And you’re going to need the kind of guidance and learning in fixing your website that I can’t provide you with in a blog post or email. It takes more than that. It’s why I packaged up all my knowledge, experience and expertise in how to “sell” administrative support and get ideal clients in my guide, Build a Website that Works.

This is more than a website guide. It’s a marketing guide, a content guide and conversion system all rolled into one–because a website isn’t just an online brochure. It’s an integral part of the process of getting clients and getting the right clients. It’s the critical link between your marketing and networking and getting those all-important consultations. And not just consultations from anyone, consultations with the best, most ideal prospects who are more likely to become actual paying clients.

You can get my guide and save yourself a lot of wasted time, energy and flailing around blindly trying to copy what everyone else is doing (who, by the way, don’t know any better than you right now themselves), or you can keep struggling. That’s up to you.

Once you get clear about those things, you’ll know exactly how to inform those folks who may or may not be who you’re looking to work with (whichever the case may be), how you might help them and what the next steps in your process are.

Not Having Any Luck in this Business? Here’s What Could Be Going On

Ask Danielle

Last week I told you about asking colleagues on my mailing list why they are in this business.

I received a wonderful outpouring of responses, and I’m still working on responding personally to every one.

Several people wrote about having difficulty getting anywhere. Here’s an example from one colleague:

Unfortunately, nothing was happening with the business and then I got very discouraged and didn’t pursue it further.  I decided to put a pause on the business and change my career.”

This colleague plans to come back to the business at a later date. The thing is, though, when she does come back to it, she is likely to have the same difficulties. You aren’t going to get different results doing the same things that weren’t working in the first place.

So I probed a little further and asked her to elaborate and try to give me some more specific details about what she was experiencing. I asked if her difficulty was in finding clients. I asked if she had done a business plan. I asked if she had a target market (and if so, what was it). I asked if she had a website (because the website is a big window into the business as a whole and I can tell a whole lot just by taking a look there).

Here’s what she told me:

“I was having difficulty finding clients. I do have a website. My target market was individuals and corporations. Yes, I have done a business plan. I have networked and reached out to prospects about my company but I think the services I offer is not what popular. I’m not sure what I attribute my difficulties to, maybe marketing and the services.

There are a few things that immediately jump out at me as the cause of some of this colleague’s difficulties. I share because maybe you are in the same boat and it may help you as well:

  1. “Individuals and corporations” are not target markets, they are demographics. A target market is a single, specific industry/field/profession that you cater your administrative support and marketing message to. Saying “individuals” is your target market is like saying “people” is your target market. That could literally be anyone and mean anything. It’s the complete opposite of the definition of a target market. Because the point of having a target market is to get clarity and direction for who you are talking to (you can’t come up with any kind of compelling message unless you decide definitively who your audience is to be), what that group’s particular needs, goals, challenges and pains are, how you can help them in those things and structure your offerings in a way that will be of most interest and value to them, and where to find them. If you don’t decide who to focus on, you’re going to be all over the place talking about things in a way that can only be vague, generic and nebulous. That’s not going to have any impact on anyone.
  2. As a demographic, corporations are rarely, if ever, the best fit for what we do. That’s because they don’t need the solution Administrative Consultants are in business to offer. (And just to clarify, in the context of my conversation with this colleague, she’s using “corporations” in terms of “big business,” not literally anyone who happens to have incorporated their business.) Here’s the thing: generally speaking, big business has the kind of workloads that inherently require full-time, in-house, dedicated staff (and Administrative Consultants are not going to be able to work with any clients like that, from both a legal and practical standpoint). They also have the resources to pay for and house them. They don’t really need us. If they are even remotely interested in us, it’s only to offload non-core functions as cheaply as possible. That’s what offshoring/outsourcing is all about. They could care less about the relationship, and when there isn’t a real need, they don’t place much value on the service. And you can’t be in business to be cheap. It’s always the solopreneurs and boutique businesses that have the greatest need for what we’re in business to offer. They, therefore, place greater value in it and are more willing to pay well for it. So it’s important to understand who makes the best fit (who has the highest and greatest need) for what we do so that you aren’t wasting your time barking up the wrong trees.
  3. When it comes to the service, you aren’t selling hammers, you’re selling what a hammer does, what it builds. My colleague states she thought she was offering services that weren’t popular. Here’s what she’s not understanding: It’s not “services” that you’re selling. As an Administrative Consultant, you are offering one thing: an ongoing relationship of administrative support. What that support is comprised of depends on the target market. This is why you need a target market. Once you decide specifically who to cater your support to, you can determine what body of tasks, functions and roles will be most helpful and compelling to that group. That’s when you’ll find the “popularity” you were lacking before.
  4. People don’t want to hear about your company, they want to hear about what your company can do for them. Read that two or three times and let it sink in. This makes a critical difference in how you are approaching people. But here’s the other thing, when you don’t know who you’re aiming for (because you’re just aiming at anyone and everyone), you don’t know anything about them and therefore don’t know how to talk to these people or what to talk about, you automatically default to talking about yourself and your company. If you had a target market, you would know specifically who you are aiming for, know what their common needs, goals, challenges and pains are in their industry, and you have something to talk about with them. My philosophy about networking is don’t do it. Instead, go to help, be of service, learn more about the people you meet and simply make friends. You’re going to have a lot better results that way. (For further insight when it comes to in-person networking, read this post: Are Business Cards Dead?)

For anyone out there who hasn’t yet decided on a target market, please do download the free ACA guide on “How to Choose Your Target Market.” It will help you TONS!

How about you? Have you had similar difficulty in your business? Do you find this information I’ve shared helpful?

How to Have Clients Help Promote Your Business

How to Have Clients Help Promote Your Business

Does everyone you come in contact with in the course of your work on behalf of clients know that you are running a business (and might be able to help them or someone they know as well)?

If the answer is no, that’s a problem.

It doesn’t help to promote your business by allowing clients to view you as their personal assistant and introduce you as such to others.

When you call yourself an assistant, clients don’t tend to introduce you as an independent business owner. They will say things like “This is my assistant, Carolyn” without any further reference to your business.

This doesn’t make clear that you are in business and providing a service independent of that client.

Those you are introduced to may never “get” that because when they hear “assistant,” they automatically assume you’re simply part of that client’s business.

It misses an opportunity for possible new business connections.

It doesn’t do you any good to have clients who aren’t helping you in your business (i.e., making proper business introductions and actively promoting and referring you) as much as you are helping them in theirs.

And this isn’t about “bad” clients.

Clients only do what we allow them to. Most will happily comply with our standards if we only insist upon them and tell them what they are.

So, you want to examine your business practices and standards:

  • Always set proper expectations and use terminology that sets and promotes those expectations and proper understandings.
  • That means, never call yourself an assistant and don’t allow clients to call you “their assistant.” As a business owner, you are never anyone’s assistant–legally and practically speaking.
  • Always use your own business email address so that anyone you are in contact with always knows they are dealing with an independent business and can contact you directly if they should need administrative support themselves (or know of someone who does). Your email address on your own domain with a proper business signature with active link to your website is one of the ways to always be marketing and promoting your business.
  • Tell clients exactly how to introduce you to others. For example: This is my fabulous Administrative Consultant, [YOUR NAME]. She runs [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] providing administrative support and expertise to business owners like us. I wouldn’t have a business without her support and guidance.

There are several things you can do, right now, to reset expectations and understandings and have clients help you in your efforts to get new business:

  1. Put together a formal letter or email to all your current clients letting them know how to introduce you. It could start out something like this: Your recommendations, referrals and introductions are an important way for me to connect with new clients. And then give them the script (see my example above) you’d like them to use to introduce you with to others.
  2. Repurpose that email/letter into your next blog post and/or ezine article that goes out to your mailing list. Be sure you share it on your social networks.
  3. Add a section for this topic in your Client Guide that informs clients exactly what to call you, how to refer to you and how to introduce you to others.
  4. Include this topic in your new client orientations.
  5. While you’re at all this, tell friends and family members how to refer your business as well. For example: This is my [RELATIONSHIP], [YOUR NAME]. She runs a business called [YOUR BUSINESS NAME] that provides administrative support and expertise to [YOUR TARGET MARKET]. If you know of someone who could use her support, tell them to check out her amazing website!

Remember, you are not the “hired help.”

You’re running a business, and if you want to stick around for years to come, able to continue supporting the clients you love, promoting your business and keeping your roster full are vital to succeeding in that intention.

As always, I love hearing from you so let me know in the comments if this struck a chord with you. All my best!

Don’t Confuse Quantity with Quality

This post came about from a great conversation I was having over on our ACA LinkedIn Discussion Group with a colleague who was struggling with her target market.

I see a lot of people in our industry erroneously thinking that the only clients who can afford them are large companies.

But the size of a business (i.e., the number of people involved) has nothing to do with how much money it makes.

There are hundreds of thousands of solos and boutique business owners earning multiple six and seven figure incomes while there are millions of bigger companies that are barely scraping by.

What people fail to understand is that big companies don’t need us. They have the kind and level of workloads that simply require in-house, dedicated staff.

Even if they are remotely interested in our type of solution, it’s typically only to get it as cheaply as possible. And you can’t afford to be in business to be broke.

So there is a fundamental mismatch of values and priorities and needs.

Being a solopreneur/boutique business owner is a lifestyle choice. It has no bearing on how much those businesses can and do make so don’t make the mistake of focusing on the wrong market.

If you do, you are missing out on finding the RIGHT fit with those who actually VALUE what we do because they have more need for it, value the one-on-one relationship and, thus, are far more ready, willing and able to PAY WELL for it.

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.