“Jenny, I’m so excited about what I do. I love it! But how do I find clients?”
This is one of the biggest questions people ask me.
Can you relate?
We’re going to tackle how to find clients in this, the third installment in our Grow Your Online Biz series.
Finding clients can feel like a big mystery.
“Where are they all?,” you might be thinking. “I know what I want to do. I’m excited to do it. But where are these people I’m meant to help?”
You know they’re somewhere because you see other service providers making a great living doing their work.
Finding clients can be mysterious. It can be confusing. It can be overwhelming.
A lot of experts out there tell you, “You need to do Facebook ads,” or “You need to have fancy funnels.”
Well, which ones do you do? Do you do all of them? Do you do some? The others? If you do it once and it doesn’t work, it’s enough to make you pull your hair.
That’s how it was for me, too … until I figured out how to find my perfect clients. Let me show you how.
It’s Not About Getting More Traffic
All the advice to do ads, Instagram, sales funnels, and those other tactics have one assumption: That to get more clients you need more traffic.
Now that would be true if you were in the business of selling 99-cent apps, $27-ebooks, or even $99-online courses.
It’s not the case if your business model is one-on-one services that you’re selling for hundreds or thousand of dollars. (You might start out charging less, but you won’t be doing that for long.)
Read that again:
You don’t need more traffic to find clients.
And so, if you’re spending time messing around with trying to figure out your funnels, or Facebook ads, or SEO, stop that completely.
Stop doing all those things because they’re NOT going to get you what you ultimately want: clients.
Instead, we’re going to cut through all that stuff.
We’re going to go right to how to find your clients.
And you don’t need paid advertising. You don’t need fancy sales funnels. You don’t need complicated technology to get there.Click to TweetYou don’t need more traffic to find clients for your service-based biz. Here’s what you REALLY need.
Here’s What You Really Need
You need to get in touch with your people and get to where they’re hanging out.
Quick story about how I did this all wrong:
When I was a new career coach, I went to a networking event every week. It was a great networking event, but there were two problems: One, I was too shy to talk about what I did.
Second, this networking event was mostly for business owners who loved the work that they did. There I was, a career coach, trying to help people get out of their soul-sucking corporate jobs and do something meaningful … and I was talking to all the wrong people!
This happens to a lot of service providers. They have this excitement for what they do. They want to serve the world with their gifts but they’re talking to the wrong people. They’re going to the wrong places. They’re not interacting where their target clients are.
Now compare this to when I tried to get clients the right way:
I went into a corporation and did a talk for 15 to 20 professionals who were trying to see if they really wanted to stick around in this corporate world. That was a great place for me to try and find clients because that’s exactly where my target clients were hanging out!
The moral of the story?
Go where your people go.
Start thinking about who your perfect clients are and then hanging out with them, going to where they are.
This means not hanging out where you typically hang out because we usually hang out in different places than where our target clients hang out.
If you’re a health coach, you probably hang out with other health coaches. Well, your target clients probably aren’t in a group of your peers.
What we need to do is put you in front of your target client. That’s it.
So the question then is, where is your target client?Click to TweetGo where your people go. Where’s that? Try the Circle Exercise to find out.
The Circle Exercise: How to Find Clients by Going Outside the Circle
Do this simple Circle Exercise to figure out where your target clients are hanging out. Ready?
1. Grab a piece of paper and a pen.
It can be lined paper or blank paper, it doesn’t matter. You do want it to be fairly large, so get a full sheet of copy or printer paper so you have plenty of space to write on.
2. Draw a circle.
Draw a circle on your piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle; just do your best.
Alternatively, you can download the Circle Exercise Handout and print out page 3. It has a blank circle all nice and ready for you to use.
3. Fill the inside of the circle.
Write at least five characteristics of your target client that are absolute musts for them to work with you and for you to work with them.
Ask yourself, “What are the must requirements of my target clients?”
Write at least five items.
For example, my target client absolutely must provide a one-on-one service and they do so virtually. So, if you’re a make-up artist and you only want to do make-up on people, then you’re not my target client. Yes. But are you my exact specific client? No.
But if you’re a makeup artist and you want to offer one-on-one coaching to help other makeup artists set up their businesses, then you become my target client.
My circle might look like this:
4. Write outside the circle.
On the outside of the circle go the “non-musts.” Begin by listing the characteristics that 20-99% of your ideal clients have. Write at least 20 features in this category.
Again, in my example, 99% of the clients I work with are women. Being a woman is not a must, but most of my clients are female, so that trait goes outside my circle.
Then the other “non-must” characteristics of my potential clients (but the majority of my clients do have) is they’re coaches or nutritionists or consultants. They could also be bookkeepers or designers or developers or copywriters.
This means you don’t have to be a coach to be my client. You don’t have to be a copywriter or a nutritionist or a designer or a bookkeeper. That’s why those features go outside the circle.
Keep going until you have at least 20 items outside of your circle. Think of their interests, their life situations, the media they consume, their favorite authors—really other noteworthy attributes that many of your ideal clients share.
When you think you’re done, write some more: This time, list at least five noteworthy traits that a minority (<20%) of your ideal clients have in common.
Going back to my example, this could be their age: a small portion of my clients are upwards of 60 years old. And similarly, a small number of them are less than 25. So, I add those qualities outside my circle.
Feel free to go through each list, both inside and outside the circle. Revisit and refine. The more you work on it, the more ideas will come to you!
When you have at least 25 items listed outside the circle, you’re ready for the next step ….
5. Find out where your target clients hang out.
Something I teach a lot is to be of service in other people’s Facebook groups. But then people say, “I can’t find a group of people who are my perfect target clients.”
Of course you won’t find a Facebook group of your perfect target clients, because your target clients are absolutely unique to you! There’s no group out there of your perfect clients. I want to bust that myth that a group exists out there who are your people exclusively. The only way that would happen is if you created that group yourself. (And you don’t have to start your own group by the way. It’s a lot of work.)
So instead, go in groups where some—not all—of the members are your target clients.
Let’s say that I were to participate in a group of entrepreneurs who are just starting out. The people I serve are maybe just a third of the group because other members offer digital products and others have brick-and-mortar stores. Those are not my ideal clients, but a portion of the group are my people.
In other words, your people are only going to be a subset of the groups you go to. To find your perfect clients, go to places where possibly 20-30% of the people are your people. And when I say “places,” I mean:
- Facebook groups and other social media
- Online forums like Reddit, Quora, etc.
- Networking events
How do you find these places? By going outside your circle!
Let me explain.
Pick one or two characteristics from outside your circle. That becomes the general population where you look for your people.
For example, let’s say I’m looking for a blog to guest post in. I would ask myself, “Where is a health-related website where some portion of the readers are also online, one-on-one service providers?”
This is how I ended up guest posting on Kris Carr’s blog (when she was still accepting guest posts). If I had pitched a post that just talked about what I did as a business coach, she would’ve said, “This has nothing to do with what my people care about. My people care about their health so don’t give me a blog post on how to get clients. That’s not what we talk about on my website.”
And so, I wrote a guest post about health—with a slant that’s related to business (inside mycircle).
Can you guess what my post was about?
It was about how I took care of myself and my health while running my business. It was about health but in the context of business. I talked about her topic in the context of my topic.
That’s how you go out to where your people are and talk to them about topics they care about in the context you serve people in.Click to Download21 Winning Ways to Book Yourself Fast!
Here’s another example.
A majority of my clients are interested in social media. So, I went to a blog about social media where a subset of readers run online service-based businesses. And my guest post was about how to use social media to market your service-based business. See how I talked about the main topic of the blog … but within the context of my business?
The same approach works for podcasts, too.
I was on a podcast called the Real Talk Radio Podcast with Nicole Antoinette. Her whole audience isn’t made up only of business owners, but they’re women who are passionate about what they do. And so, a subset of her audience is my audience. That’s why we talked about her stuff in the context of my stuff.
See how that works?
There’s a whole bunch of other places where you can go and find your clients. When you use the circle you made, all these possibilities open up for you in terms of the groups and communities you can reach out to.
You can then put yourself in front of your people, talk about what they care about and with a slant to what it is you do.Click to TweetDon’t know where to find your ideal clients? This Circle Exercise will help.
Go Forth and Put Yourself Out There
The next thing for you to do is to put yourself where your people are. Use the Circle Exercise to figure out exactly where these places, both online and offline, might be.
It’s not about getting people to come to you. To get clients, you’re going to go to your people. You have to go out there and find them. They don’t even know you exist.
You can’t just put up a website and expect your perfect clients to come to you. You can’t just have a Facebook page and expect them to find you. You can’t create a LinkedIn profile and expect your people to approach you.
You’re going to be on Facebook and you’re going to go engage in a group. You’re going to be on LinkedIn and you’re going to engage in conversations. You’re going on Quora and you’re going to have a discussion where your people are.
By now you realize that finding clients isn’t something you’re going to do in 5 minutes. You can sit down on your computer and search for a couple of hours to find good sites to guest post in, and you may only find a few. And that’s exactly the case. You are looking for a needle in a haystack.
It is hard.
Too many people out there are trying to sell you that it’s easy. That you just click a few buttons and you’re going to be rich. I’m not that kind of coach. I’m not that kind of person. If you want easy, go somewhere else. I’m just going to tell you the truth.
It’s going to take some searching. It’s going to take some work. If it were easy, everybody and their sister and their brother and their cat would have a successful online business. It takes a little bit of work.
But this is not hard work.
It’s just work.
You can totally do this.
Next Up: Creating Long-Term Success
We started this 4-part series with a post that shared why I think one-on-one services are the best way to get stated online.
In Part 2, I showed you how to come up with your first offer.
Here, you learned how to go about getting clients.
And in Part 4, you’ll discover the key to creating long-term success in your business.My Personal Recommendation for YouWrite blogs posts your prospects are excited to read!