biz ladies: 5 factors to get and convert all the clients you need


Today’s Biz Ladies post is from Elizabeth Archibong, the “Get More Clients” expert at Minted Creative. She teaches small business entrepreneurs who are struggling with marketing how to get more clients consistently without pushing too hard. Today she shares her in-depth knowledge on converting your site traffic into paying costumers. Thanks for this extremely helpful post, Elizabeth! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

I probably shouldn’t be saying this here, but traffic by itself is not what gets clients. It’s very possible to build a massive audience that does not convert to paying clients.

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from scratch or you’ve been in the game a while; to consistently attract and convert ideal paying clients in your small business, and avoid the dreaded feast-or-famine game, there are 5 fundamental factors you need to have in place.

1. Get Clear on Your Results

Nobody cares about the processes you use in your business, but we all care about what exactly it is we’re going to get when we hand over our hard-earned cash to your small biz.

I don’t care that my face cream has got patented xyz technology, but I do care that it makes my skin look smoother, hydrated and radiant. (Ooh yes, please . . . where can I pay for that?)

The point here is that it’s your job to be SPECIFIC about the solution that you provide for your clients. Do they lose weight faster, have clearer skin, sleep better at night, have less pain or discomfort, etc.?

The more specific you are about the results you’re creating for your clients, the easier it is to discuss what you do and the more likely you are to attract an audience through your traffic-building activities that converts to ideal clients.

2. Get Clear on Whom You Want to Serve

You can’t be all things to all people, so be a specialist at what you do. That’s the only way you’ll consistently attract clients to your small business. If I wanted to lose weight fast, I’d go to the person I think is an expert at getting me there — and I’m prepared to pay more money for the results that I want FAST.

I’m not going to waste my time with the regular gym instructor who, in my mind, is probably going to show me the basics, just as he’s going to show my friend John the basics of bodybuilding.

It’s probably unfair to assume that the gym instructor can’t do the job, but as human beings, we make incorrect assumptions based on what we see. As far as I’m concerned, the trainer with tons of weight-loss clients raving about him is the one I’ll be investing my moo-lah in.

The point here is that, right or wrong, as buyers we always gravitate to the expert first. Being a generalist is not going to help your business. Being a specialist makes you stand out from the crowd. This could easily be your unique selling point in your business.

You may think that specializing means you’ll lose clients; on the contrary, you’ll get a highly targeted client base that wants the one specific result you can create for them, and best of all, they’ll be willing to pay your full fee for the privilege of working with you.

3. Create Prices and Packages That Make Sense

If you’re still charging by the hour, you’re cheating yourself and your potential clients out of the value you create for them.

Charging per hour means you’re putting more focus on the money that clients are investing in themselves through you rather than the value they are getting by using your service.

Create options and packages that demonstrate the value you offer to your clients. Let’s consider pricing scenarios for the weight-loss expert we talked about above:

A weight-loss client comes in to see Pete (our weight-loss expert) and says, “Emergency! I’m getting married in 9 months, and I need to shed 30 to 40 pounds by, like, yesterday. You’re the expert — what can you do for me?”

Pete can either say, “I charge $70 per hour,” and we’ll keep going into the future until you burn off all the ice cream, OR he could say, “Sure, I’d be happy to help you. Lets have a look at the options you may find appealing.

To start, all my packages are for a three- to six-month period because that’s the minimum time I know clients can see significant results from their efforts (this is non-negotiable).

You can select from the

Basic Package: No frills, 1 session a week, which is $X for 6 months

Average package: 2 sessions a week with an eating plan, which is $Y for 6 months

Full-on, fast-track package: 4 sessions a week, eating plan, and accountability phone session bi-weekly (to make sure you stick to it), which is $Z for 6 months.”

Which pricing option do you think will make sense to the client? The $70 per hour gig (with no clear end in sight) or a fixed-option package?

The point here is to create options and packages that show clients EXACTLY what it is they’re getting for the investment. Make it easy for people to pay you.

4. Play Your Own Game

I don’t think I need to say much about this, do I?

If Pete, our weight-loss expert, is 50 pounds overweight, I don’t see how he can be an expert at helping others lose weight fast (I’m just sayin’).

You’ve got to play your own game. If you ask your clients to do something, make sure you’re doing it, as well. If you’re not, your clients will sense the disconnect.

It may not necessarily be something clients can see (as with our friend Pete), but it could be a feeling that all is not quite right, a feeling that the client can’t put his or her finger on or shake. Once a client has this feeling, it’s difficult to cultivate the trust that is needed for him or her to hand over money to you (at least without haggling or looking for a discount, anyway).

5. Have Conversations That Matter

Every conversation you have in your business should add value in some way to your clients’ lives. Before clients invest in themselves through you, they have to know you, like you and then trust you enough to help them solve their problem.

The conversations you have via your websites, social media, networking, etc. are what help you start building trust with your audience. Spend time getting to know the people you want to serve, and they will reward you with their trust.

Obviously, there are many other factors that go into attracting clients consistently, and I would love to hear from you in the comments. What other strategies do you use to consistently attract and convert ideal clients in your small business?

Sara

Holy cow! this was PERFECT!… I wish I would’ve read this last week, I’m sure I could’ve hooked a few clients that I might have lost because of my $XX/hour shpeal. THANK YOU! I will definitely put this into practice right away!

Ribbu

Useful information, all of it. I’m curious, though, about those of us who are offering a creative product where it isn’t easy to quantify the benefits – where saying, “The benefit to you is that it will make you happier to have it than to not have it” and “the reason I’m the “expert” is because, well, no one draws like I do.” How do you sell someone something that they don’t really need at all?

Sarah@SarahElizabeth

This is hands-down the area that I struggle the most with as the owner of a new design business. Attracting clients absolutely has me stymied! I’m currently working on some makeovers in my own home, to showcase what I can offer. Hoping that once more people see that I “Play My Own Game” well, they’ll ask me to do the same for them.

lauren covington

totally agree with #1 – i often find myself editing my emails.. deleting all these little details about why i can’t or can’t do something with a design a client wants. keep it simple.

Steven Soria

Agreed on each point… running a small business is tricky, but the bottom line is that people are coming to you for better service, for the ability to speak directly with an expert, and get a good value.

alex wijnen

I still charge per hour for my graphic design services. I have many on-going clients and it’s hard to stop to give them a price, get their approval, then move forward with the actual work, especially when there’s a rush project or when it’s impossible to know up front how long a project will take (i.e. how many rounds of revisions). Whenever I’ve done a strict estimate with established rounds of revisions, it usually goes over budget and I end up having to charge for my extra time anyway.

I agree with all the other points, though :)

Vicki

This was right on the money for me today! I have started an organizing business and the advice it perfect. Thank you!!!

Stephanie Poli

I totally agree with Alex W.
It really does depend on the industry when it comes to charging per hour vs. flat package rates. I’m in graphic design/video fx and on the rare occasion that I actually do a flat rate I either have to over-charge or put limitations on how many revisions a flat rate covers.

#5 is a great point. Trust is very key to building long term clients.

julie @ tractorgirl

Love this post! And Ribbu, I am in the same boat – I make bags and cushions that people don’t ‘need’. I think what you are selling is beauty – which is what we all need in our lives. It’s a matter of concentrating on refining your own ‘image’.

Amanda Allen

Really sound and savvy advice – thank you! I especially like point #5 – engage in meaningful dialog w your clients- that’s what it’s all about!

Tessa

This was SO helpful-thank you! I’ve recently started a graphic design company with my husband and we’ve been brainstorming ways to get new clients so this is perfect. So far we have gone the flat-rate route and it has been really helpful. I find all my clients so far have appreciated the safety of knowing their bill isn’t going to be never-ending. And as far as endless revisions, it hasn’t been a problem so far, and we do charge our flat rates with an assumed amount of revisions in mind.

Jessica @shimmerkai

Great post!
Ribbu, agree with Julie…creative products elicit an emotional response. They make a room feel more beautiful, leave you feeling inspired, help you express your style to the world, etc. These are selling points that can often turn a “want” into a “need”!

Tina

Very helpful article! I know I’ve struggled with all of these in the past, and as I work to build my new ventures I’ll have to work to keep them in mind.

Joanne @Homestyling101

Great insight! I am struggling between hourly rate vs per project rate in my design business….I’d prefer flat rate but I feel like I will come out losing big time especially with clients who can’t make a decision! Good food for thought!

Bobbie

This is a great post! I have really been trying to work on the #2, and I really like the # 1, I need to work on that one..
I have a vintage business and my business advisor is always working on getting me to pare it down to a look. It is so helpful..I go a while and do really well with this and then too much time and I start to get all over the place again. He reminds me..LOL We all need this someone who can look at it from an objective view.

Rose McClement

I just love the comment interaction. Would like to see the author response more often though, just to take it to the next level. gonna favourite this post

Laura

Wow – right on- like so many people have said. I especially like the idea that Julie posted when she said that people who sell things people don’t “need” are offering beauty – which everyone needs in their lives :) Thanks for the encouragement

Elizabeth Archibong

Hello Ladies,

It’s Elizabeth! I’m you all enjoyed the post. I just found out that the article had been posted a few minutes ago which is why i’m on here now…

I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can.

@RIBBU – attracting clients in a product based business such as yours is not that different. What you need to ask yourself here is: “What emotion does my end product satisfy for my target client?”

Think about it? Why do people buy 50″ plasma screen TV’s, or fork out $500 for an ipad when they could easily get something cheaper?

it’s the feeling they get from the product. To get more of an insight on why people buy, check out the ebook by Jim Edwards – the 10 reasons that motivate people to buy.

Once you’re clear on these reasons, build your business WHY on the one that fits….

Elizabeth Archibong

@ Alex and Stephanie: you can still do these per hour jobs, but creating packages on the most common problems you know people tend to request from you means that –

1. You get to charge higher hourly rates (because these jobs will now be considered bespoke / custom jobs)

2. Packages are also an entry to getting people comfortable to moving onto to bespoke add-ons. It opens up the market to clients and money you may be leaving on the table.

hope this helps….

@Laura and @Julie – I think you can actually take it a bit further… you are not only selling beauty… you are selling the emotion behind being beautiful.

Why do we want to be beautiful? why would we spend so much money to look a certain way? what is the transformation that we get by looking beautiful? – get clear on the emotion and then position your business to satisfy that emotion.

hope this helps

keep ‘em coming ladies…I’ve loved reading all your comments, and I’m glad you found the article useful

Elizabeth Archibong

To Joanne @Homestyling101

As mentioned above, you can have an hourly AND flat rate.

Your flat rate is what you use to market your business. Because it provides a clear outcome and people know from the start what they’re getting.

Trust me when I say that people tend to make up their minds pretty quickly when they know they have to pay more money for the comfort of being indecisive.

Offer the “much higher” hourly rate to the clients that can’t make up their minds, but make it clear of the savings they’ll get if they choose to go for the project based pricing and you’ll be surprised at how decisive they’ll get.

hope this help.

Adri-Anne Ralph

I offer a freebie (I’m a voice teacher), a “mini” trial lesson, which is usually about half the length of a full lesson, where I teach them one or two things, and just meet them and find out their goals and preferences. I find that once they come in for a trial lesson, I have an 80-90% chance of them signing up for lessons, and my retention rate is about 60-70% as well.

Erin

Stephanie, it would be awesome to have a follow-up Q&A session, in real-time, with Elizabeth. I really hope Design*Sponge will take a look at Chat Auditorium:
http://ChatAuditorium.com

It’s a great way to let us have real-time access to people (like Elizabeth) who contribute to this blog. Elizabeth, this is really fantastic advice. Thank you!

Grace Bonney

hi erin

i’m so grateful that people like elizabeth volunteer their time for posts like this, but i don’t want to take advantage of that generosity by requesting more free q&a time. i definitely understand the benefit of a session like that, but these advisors offer those services as part of their business and i think they’re definitely worth hiring and supporting once you’ve digested the free information they’re sharing here. i will always maintain this biz ladies column as a free resource, but i think it’s important to note that these advisors need to make a living as well, and i’d love to be able to send (paying) business their way after they’ve donated their time.

grace

Erin

Hi Grace, thank you for your response! You make a very good point, and I agree! Elizabeth (and other contributors), can actually charge for the follow up Q&A if they wish. Chat Auditorium actually has a built-in Box Office feature that allows the chat event host to charge for the event. So, not only can they generate some income on the buzz and momentum created from their great content, they can also build their email/contact list to, well, convert interest/traffic into paying clients!

Grace Bonney

Erin

Do you work for CA? You’ve left a few comments about them on other posts and I was just curious. If its ok if you do , I just wanted to be transparent about any affiliations.

Grace

Erin

Hi Grace, I’m a co-founder of SparcPlug, Inc., and one of our services is Chat Auditorium. My apologies…I thought designating the http:// slot with Chat Auditorium made it obvious I was affiliated. Even though I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time, it’s the first time I’ve commented, so I probably didn’t follow protocol. I do hope you’ll have a look despite that!

Grace Bonney

erin

not a problem, i just wanted to understand where you were coming from. some people use urls in their comments if they’re discussing a topic, but not affiliated with it.

grace

Ashley

This is great advice…I especially appreciate the last part about meaningful conversations. I think this is something we have to continue to remind ourselves of, but it is SO important. I read once about how promoting and being interested in others is the only way they are going to be happy to reciprocate and tell everyone about you! Such good advice, oh, and the flat rate thing is also really good because the more experience you get the faster you get and then your prices don’t go down because you have become more efficient! THANKS!!

Kathy Donchak

I agree completely with this post. My own business has evolved and as it has I have been able to more clearly state the unique services I offer to my wedding and event clients. Thank you for always giving us creative types things to think about in our businesses!

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