fueling imageThe first function in your client development process is . . . FUELING.

Your Business or Practice is a Vehicle
You may find it helpful to think of your business or practice as a vehicle.

Vehicles are means of transportation.  As a vehicle for you, your business can take you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.

When you think of your business as a vehicle, it’s easy to see it taking you to a well-deserved retirement, dropping the kids off at a nice college or university along the way and maybe even trailering a nice big boat behind you to enjoy whenever you feel like stopping.

Your Vehicle Needs Fuel
Every vehicle requires fuel of some kind to operate effectively.  To your business or practice, that fuel means people . . . who can help you grow your business . . . directly or indirectly.

You Need The ‘Right Kind’ of Fuel
As you know, you must be ‘choosey’ about the fuel you’ll put into your vehicle.  Putting gasoline into a diesel engine or diesel fuel into a gas engine will cause you a lot of problems — and it won’t help your vehicle operate as you expect to take you where you want to go.

It’s no different with your business or practice.  You want to begin your client development process with the most suitable people you can — assuming you want your business to operate effectively, efficiently and profitably.

You Need ‘Enough’ Fuel, Too
Your journey through life . . . from where you are today to when you send the kids to college and when you seek to retire . . . is a long ride!  Getting from ‘here’ to ‘there’ will take some doing.  And, of course, you’re expecting your business or practice will help you make the journey.

But if you lack sufficient ‘fuel’ — people who can buy or refer people to you — you may not be reaching your ‘destinations’ as you intend.  In fact, you may have no choice but to settle for less . . . a less desirable lifestyle before you retire, a less desirable college for your kids, a less desirable quality of life in retirement for yourself and your spouse.  Not a pretty picture, is it?

If you don’t have BOTH the quantity and quality of the people you need to operate your business or practice as you want, you may be working longer than you like,  harder than you want and for far less than you deserve.

If you’re a self-employed individual, the owner of a small business or a professional practitioner whose problem-solving expertise and services are valued by others (i.e. your clients), I bet you know how good it feels to land a new client.

It’s a rush.  A good feeling.  Isn’t it?

But do you know how you generate a new client?

Mystery or Mastery?
Some people tell me, “I don’t know . . . I just seem to get them whenever I want them”.  I’m sure that’s gratifying to their friends who aren’t wizards and aren’t able to ‘manifest’ clients on-demand!

But many business owners or professional practitioners find that generating clients (or, ‘rainmaking’ as some prefer to call that function) is more of a mystery than a mastery.  They find that frustrating.  Maybe you can relate?

The Client Development Process
Thankfully, there is a ‘method’ to address the ‘madness’ of discovering that, despite your ability to solve problems for your clients, generating clients for yourself as easily and adequately as you might like . . . may not be one your strengths.

The Four Functions
Generating clients requires four (4) functions all working consistently on your behalf:

This generates the ‘raw material’ or opportunities for you to generate new clients

This separates your opportunities into two groups: ‘real’ and ‘OMG’

This builds the ‘know, like and trust’ factor about you with qualified opportunities

This is where you realize the value of your cultivated opportunities

In 2012, we’ll be spending a number of posts on each of these functions . . . to help you become more effective at developing clients . . . by design, not accident.  And, oh yes . . . you won’t need to be a ‘wizard’ to make this happen, either!

Generating clients is not a skill-set that you may have, BUT . . . you can learn to do it (and, we will!) 

So it’s a NEW YEAR . . . and you may have made a resolution to use your social networks more in 2012 than you did in 2011.  Good for you!

Keep It Simple . . . Join Groups and Discussions / Make Comments and New Friends
While there are many things you could do to leverage LinkedIn, a very basic (i.e. easy-to-do) tactic that is also highly effective is to:

1.  Join / Explore relevant groups that interest you
2.  Observe what people are talking about in the group’s Discussions
3.  Comment when you feel you have something to contribute
4.  Follow-up any meaningful response with a direct message
5.  Invite the other person to connect with you

This is a very basic and DO-able process that will help you build your LinkedIn network with people whom you have connected to in a meaningful manner.

An Example:
Recently, I saw a post by someone in a group where I’m a member, made a comment and received a very nice response.

Here’s a follow-up message I received from another (new) connection after we connected on LinkedIn:

This happens far more often than most people realize. If you’re so inclined to grow your LinkedIn network, do it gradually.  Set a goal to find and comment on someone’s post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  When someone responds, if it feels right to do so, invite them to connect — and cite the common connection you both shared.  Slowly but surely your LinkedIn network will grow — as will the opportunities your LinkedIn community generates for your business or practice.

Growing Your LinkedIn Connections isn’t hard . . . just do the ‘basics’ consistently! 

man with megaphoneIn my last post, I mentioned something might be MISSING . . . remember?

Lest you accuse me of dragging out the answer too long, let me direct your attention to the fellow with the megahorn as a final clue.  Does that help?

After Attracting Visitors, You Want To Get Some Kind of Action!
With an  inbound marketing approach, you’re anticipating what the ‘Next Step’ in your process must be and do for you.  Let’s face it, although you want to drive traffic to your website (or, blog) . . . if that’s ALL you do, you might as well not even bother.

The next ‘step’ after attracting traffic to you is to ‘convert’ your faceless visitors into recognizable people whom you can invite to take the ‘Next Step’ until, after enough steps, the person becomes a customer or client.

Use a Call-To-Action
Once you have attracted a ‘qualified’ visitor to your site, you want to learn who they are so you can begin the ‘courtship’ process — going from a suspect to a prospect to a client.  The mechanism for doing this is called a ‘Call To Action’.

This is typically a graphic button of some kind inviting you to do something to get an item of value . . . like a Special Report, a Buyers Guide, access to an exclusive video, etc. in return.

Call To Actions make it EASY to show you that a visitor has an interest in the value you have that they want.  And, if your initial ‘offer’ doesn’t require too much effort or expense . . . you’re more likely to get a response and, when you do that, you’ll be converting more visitors into opportunities.  Won’t that be nice!

Curious about converting visitors into opportunities . . .  ???

Google SearchOK, so yesterday . . . I made a post on this blog: “Inbound Marketing in Connecticut”.

Today — just one day later — I do a search on Google for what I’d like to think a prospective client might type into Google assuming, of course, that they were interested in ‘Inbound Marketing’ and entered (as many do) a geographic factor i.e. ‘Connecticut’.

Relevance Makes You Rise To The TOP!
Well, lo and behold . . . My post is found on PAGE 1 of the Google search for the phrase (some call it a ‘long-tail keyword’) that was the title of my post.  (you can check it for yourself — click the image to open in a new window!).  

What Were The Ingredients That Worked?
First, I
t was only 230 words (quality beats quantity in a blog post, folks!). Second, I used the keyword phrase ‘inbound marketing’ but in a meaningful and relevant way.  Third, I included a video that was ranked well on YouTube.  Fourth, I used the phrase (keyword) ‘Outbound Marketing’. Nothing magical there.  Just basic SEO that you can do, too.

Something is missing from yesterday’s post, though.  Can you tell what it is?  If not, I’ll share it tomorrow.

Content attracts people who are looking for what you do . . . so plan to use it effectively in 2012. 

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
One of many changes I’ve seen this year is the movement toward marketing that focuses on ‘Inbound’ strategies and tactics vs. ‘outbound’ strategies and tactics.

It’s kind of cute . . . but also accurate to depict the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ marketing along the lines of the famous Apple vs. PC commercials . . . Enjoy!

OUT is ‘Out’ and IN is ‘In’
In 2012, we live in a robust web-based world — based on the fact that tweets, texts, email on your smartphone, and even McDonald’s has free WIFI.  You may or may not like that but . . . you can’t really ignore it, either.

The fact that we’re so digital has irrvevocably changed the world as we (once) knew it.

Marketing  . . . Then and Now
Not too long ago, if you were going to ‘do some marketing’ . . . you were likely thinking about running ads, making phone calls (cold calls!), sending out direct mailings, attending trade shows and the like.  Without a web-based medium (i.e. the Internet), what other choices did you have?  None, really.

Today, the options and expectations for marketing your business have changed.  Seriously changed!  The name for the new approach is ‘Inbound’ (vs. outbound) marketing.  This refers to being found — online — by people who want and are searching for what you can offer and/or do for them.

It’s a ‘Brave New World’ . . . are you planning to be in it?

Who doesn’t love a little red sports car?  
I recall how my ‘favorite car’ was exactly that — a 1987 red  Toyota MR2 . . . OMG I loved that car.  But, I digress . . .

“It’s a chick-magnet”
That’s how the salesperson (a woman no less!) described it to me.  Maybe she thought I was having a mid-life crisis and a ‘little red sports car’ was exactly what I needed.  Regardless, I bought that car for my own enjoyment and boy, did I love that car.

And truth be told, that’s what most people understand a ‘hot-looking’ car is going to do for the owner.  Of course, truth and fantasy blur easily and rarely does the latter influence the former.  But that’s what most people still believe a ‘little red sports car’ will do for the driver.

What Does a ‘Little Red Sportscar’ has to do with ‘standing out’
One part (1/3, actually) of your marketing strategy is to ‘differentiate’ your self, business, products and services from the ‘alternatives’ your prospective client may consider, right?  So how do you do that?

Leverage a Common Perception with An Uncommon Twist
Al Ries ad Jak Trout wrote a book called, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind“.  In it, they suggest adopting “a competitive mental angle”.  That simply means you assume your prospect is aware of who your competition is and you use what people associate about them . . . to your advantage.

For example:Ad for mini-van

What if you wanted to promote your mini-van?  It’s no little red sportscar, right?  EXACTLY!

That’s why the common understanding of what a ‘little red sportscar’ is all about makes it ideal to use to make your reader relate to what your benefit really is:
” . . . BETTER at picking up women than an exotic and expensive sportscar!”

Differentiation is never done in a vacuum — always use a context your reader already understands and THEN . . . add an ‘angle’ . . . to make your benefit ‘stand out’ in their mind.

However you ATTRACT people to your website:
•  SEO
•  Direct Mail
•  Advertising
•  Word of Mouth
•  Promotional Emails
•  Blog Posts with inbound links
•  etc.

you definitely don’t want to lose them.
You want to CATCH them!

Not literally, of course.  But as we saw in a previous post, if you don’t learn who is interested in the benefits you offer, you may be extremely frustrated at the dismal contribution your website is (NOT!) making to your top-line revenues and bottom-line satisfaction.

Call-T0-Action + Landing Page = Success
Let’s assume someone finds you as a result of a Google search — a likely possibility — and they click your listing to gain, what they hope, is something useful . . . to them.  That would be your content that caused Google to show you on the search in the first place.

Call To Action . . .
Keep this simple.  It’s merely a mechanism  . . . that invites a visitor to do something to get what they want . . . like learn your insights on how to address an issue in their life or business . . . better than they’ve been able to do.

Landing Page . . . 
If a visitor doesn’t go directly to a landing page from a link in a Google search, your Call-To-Action button should lead a visitor to a page on your site that’s dedicated to the topic of interest to your visitor.

Once they are on your landing page, you want to use only as much copy as is needed to convince your visitor to give you their information — usually their name and email — in exchange for the low-risk, high-value information you have and they want.

Attracting visitors to your website is a critical first step in generating revenues for your business.  But you must learn who you’ve attracted . . . so you can take appropriate actions to generate not only leads, but revenues as well.  


Occasionally, far too rarely actually, I come across a truly brilliant marketing campaign that benefits not only the marketer but everyone else involved.

Enter . . .  the Fourth Annual Holiday Feed It Forward™ campaign of Restaurant.com:

Here’s the Deal . . . 
Each year around the holidays, Restaurant.com enables anyone to ‘give away’ $10 Gift Certificates to anyone they like . . . as a gift . . . absolutely FREE!

How / Why It Works . . . 
Restaurant.com is a firm that helps roughly 18,000 restaurants generate customers. It does this by allowing people like you and me to buy its ‘gift certificates’ at a discount and these 18,000 restaurants honor the ‘face’ value of each certificate.  The restaurants get more traffic, consumers get a good value (and, hopefully a good meal) and Restaurant.com gets a nominal fee for each transaction

That’s smart.  Afterall, each participating restaurant only incurs a ‘cost’ of sales (the discount and fee) when this promotional tactic actually pays off.  I love anything that changes the ‘pay now and pray later’ marketing media into one you only need to pay for when it actually works!  That’s what Restaurant.com does — very nicely.

The 2012 Restaurant.com Holiday Gift-Away . . .
For the last four years, to help all the parties in the equation — restaurants and consumers — Cary Chessik, CEO of Restaurants.com has allowed anyone to give a ‘gift’ of $10 to people they know as a simple act of ‘feeding it forward’.

This is altruism and commercialism as it helps Cary’s restaurant clients by putting ‘butts in the seats’ for them.  At the same time, it provides people like you and me with an opportunity to say, “Thanks” to many people in our lives in what may find this is a time that’s more financially difficult for more people than we may ever know.

It’s 100% legit — I’ve used this myself already — and I hope you would use this opportunity to give a $10 Gift Card to up to 40 people each day between now and Christmas.

Marketing makes a difference in the lives of people by connecting us all.  Use this ‘Feed It Forward’ opportunity to do the same with people in your world . . . all you’ll feel is good . . . and appreciated! 

In the movie, “Jaws!” there’s a scene where the shark hunters are chumming — putting a vile-smelling concoction of fish parts over the side to attract sharks to the boat for a ‘great day of fishing!”.

As you may also recall, Roy Schneider’s character got a classic line when, after chumming, ‘Jaws’ rears his head out of the water startling Schneider and he says, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat”.

Bigger boat? Are you kidding me?  How about a bigger HOOK or HARPOON or NET or . . . something to catch what you attract!

Attraction is Good . . . Catching is Better!
Attracting the shark was only 50% of their challenge’.  The other 50% was actually catching it!. It’s no different for your business and your website visitors.  If all you do is attract visitors to your website but you don’t catch them . . . all your work to attract them to you in the first place will be for naught!

Are You Capturing Your Website Visitors?
A recent survey of over 2.500 SMB’s by MerchantCircle/Reply.com revealed that ”SEO Is The Single Most Important Marketing Channel For Small to Mid Size Businesses.”

As the graph shows, SEO or Seach-Engine-Optimization was easily the most attractive option.

OK, that’s nice –– a nice START!  Merely attracting traffic won’t put money in your bank.  You have to ‘convert’ your visitors into qualified leads.  If you don’t you’re wasting your time and money on SEO-only vendors.

If you ‘only’ attract traffic to your website but you don’t convert faceless visitors into viable prospects, all the SEO in the world will be for naught!