When you start your own business, whether online or offline, the biggest question is how to get clients. Just because you have a shiny new website, an Instagram account or a fabulous shop window doesn’t mean people will suddenly knock on your door or book calls. How do you start building that fan base, that excited audience, the crowd that is willing to pay for your services? In this post I am sharing top tips for those of you dying to know how to get more clients as a new business.
First of all; why did you start your new business? What is your story? Most people who have left their save job to go it alone are doing this because they have a real passion for what they do or make. Perhaps it is offering spiritual retreats or creative workshops, maybe it is offering coaching online, or you could be launching yourself as a designer or illustrator. Whatever it is, you love your work, and you are good at it. Now, how do you get people to notice you?
As a creative business coach, I always start with my clients on a few key questions. The who, the why, the what and the how. The first thing you need to get clear on, is your audience. Who are you trying to help?
Identify your ideal client
The ‘ideal client’, it is such a buzz term in business coaching. What does this actually mean? It means the person, the customer, you most like to work with or sell to. You might say, well I don’t really care, anyone will do as long as they are paying. But is that true? Niching down is scary for most startups as you may believe that by doing so, you alienate lots of othes who also might buy from you. But the opposite is true. The more specific you are in defining that perfect customer, the easier it gets to attract them. Let me tell you how.
Say, you are a life coach. You may think everyone could benefit from your life coaching services, but the more generic you are in your content (the text you write on your website for example), the fewer people will recognise themselves in the description. The information will be too vague. The important thing is to understand your ideal client so deeply, that you can write about their circumstances so that it completely resonates with them, and they feel confident that you are the right person to help them with their problem. So you need to know their problem inside out.
The easiest way to clarify your ideal client is therefore to think of someone you love working with, maybe a past client, or someone else, who has exactly that problem. Who is this person?
Often, especially when you are a coach or someone else offering services, your ideal client will be someone not too different from yourself. Someone with a similar lifestyle, views, or going through experiences you have gone through yourself but have overcome. Someone perhaps a few years ‘behind’ you on their journey. Can you picture them?
Once you have a clear idea of who this person is, it is time to jump to the next question; the why.
Define the problem of your ideal client
Why would they care? Why choose you? This question is very much linked to the previous one, as it is all about the current reality of your ideal client. What are they struggling with? What is the issue they need help with? Describe their situation in such a way that it could have come from their own mouth, in words they understand. So skip the jargon and the technical terms, and instead use phrases they would use themselves. This not only makes your content stronger, it also helps with SEO, or findability in the search engines.
Think about your ideal client and what they would type into Google. What words would they use to find what they are looking for? If you are an illustrator, would someone type in ‘illustrator’ or something more specific than that? Consider including location, themes, or specific styles and topics.
Now you have your ideal client AND their current reality. In my own case, for example, I would say that I help ‘English-speaking creative entrepreneurs and small businesses in the first years of business, who are struggling to find clients, feel overwhelmed by marketing, and don’t know how to make themselves more visible online’. A life coach working with a specific type of female client could perhaps say that they ‘help women going through menopause who are feeling stuck, and disconnected to their inner self, their family and their environment, and who are trying to create more joy, balance and pleasure for themselves’. Do you get it?
The what, or how you are getting them from A to B
The next thing you need to have clear is the transformation. Now, if you are someone who is selling art, there will be less of that in your marketing message, and it will be more about the emotion you evoke in the buyer. But when you are a service-based business, it is all about getting your client from A to B. How are you doing this?
Understanding the end result your client is looking for is key. What are they wishing for themselves more than anything? What solution are you offering to them? Think of it as two islands: island A is where they are now, and island B is where they will be after working with you. In my case, I promise my clients clarity, and that they will feel more confident and in control of their business and marketing. This is what they desire.
What does your client desire? A commercial photographer’s client may desire images that help their company look professional and tell their unique story so that they build their reputation and sell more products. Their ‘island A’ is a place of feeling ambitious, ready for the next step and a strong desire to grow. A childhood therapist’s client may desire that their child acquires tools to cope with ADHD or anxiety, so that they feel more equipped to deal with school, friends, and life in general. Their ‘island A’ is a place of despair, frustration and fear for the future.
Every business owner can think of an ideal client who they know they can help get from island A to island B. Use very precise words, even emotion, to describe the island A so that your ideal client sees you understand their situation. Know your client, know their problem, and know their deepest desire.
Clarity creates strong content
With the questions above now answered, you now have a blueprint of your marketing message. You have a much clearer idea of your target audience and what you are trying get across to them. This means that wherever you publish, post or talk in-person, you have an elevator speech ready, and people will instantly know what it is you do. You feel confident and know what to say when people ask. These are some of the things you can start improving right now:
Write a short intro for your website and put it right at the top for people to see. Include who you are helping, describe their current reality or the problem they have, what they desire, and how you are helping them to get where they want to be. This could look something like this:
“You have recently launched your own creative business, are about to rebrand, or are in the first few years of being a solopreneur. Now you want to be successful and make this your main income stream, but you need a plan. Marketing feels like an alien word, and you have no idea where to start. You want structure, focus, and accountability. How do you bring order in the chaos? Where and how do you get clients? How do you keep this show on the road? I help people just like you gain clarity, confidence and more control over your destiny. Together we will be alchemists. Chaos will turn into calm. A junk yard of ideas into a solid game plan. You will feel supported. As a creative business coach, I will hold you accountable, help you find structure, and guide you on your journey to success”.
You see, in my own description, or intro, I include who I help, what their main issues are, what type of help they are looking for, and what I offer to achieve this. Further down the page, you can go into more detail about your packages or products, and perhaps explain even more about the particular problems your client may have. The aim of the intro, or marketing message, is to grab the attention and immediately make it clear what it is you do. This not only keep the right people hooked, it also stops you from attracting the ‘wrong’ type of client. You don’t want to work with everyone, after all. You only want to work with those people you are confident about helping with your unique skills.
Putting it into practice
Now you can look at all other platforms you are on. Top tip: only be where your ideal client hangs out. For some, this will be Instagram, for others Tik Tok, and perhaps for you it will be LinkedIn. Or, maybe it is not social media at all, but doing plenty of in-person networking, direct emailing or presenting your services at events. Whatever it is, now you are able to create marketing material, content and information that hits home with the right client. You can come up with strong titles, taglines, captions and even videos that are tapping into those exact ‘pain points’ your clients recognises in themselves.
Of course, reading all of this may still make you feel overwhelmed! Don’t worry, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your business empire. It took me two years to get my coaching business to provide me with a great income and a steady stream of clients. It also takes consistency and persistence. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but it certainly is a marathon and not a race. The pillars of your marketing message, however, have to be absolutely clear and solid. Clarity is everything, and will give you much more control of your destiny and what steps to take next. If you need my help, just know I am here for you.