Gauging from last week’s article on Color-Coded Persuasion, I was reminded once again that the topic of communication and persuasion is central to attracting new clients.
My definition of marketing for self-employed professionals is simple: “Clearly communicating the value of your services.”
But that’s really not enough. To market effectively, you also need to build familiarity and trust with prospective clients.
And to do that, you need to reach out, meet, and talk with them.
Sounds easy, but almost everyone avoids doing this or has no idea how to do it successfully. Thoughts of, and the associated fears of cold-calling come to mind.
Cold calling doesn’t work, but Warm Outreach does.
Many, many years ago, I cracked the code on this and have been teaching variations on this approach ever since.
For me, it started in the early days of my business in San Francisco, where I had joined the Chamber of Commerce.
My thinking went something like this: “As members of the Chamber of Commerce, we are all interested in building our businesses. And one way to do that is to get to know other Chamber members. So why don’t I reach out to some of them and introduce myself? What have I got to lose?”
So I got a copy of the chamber directory, identified a number of professional service businesses, and mailed them all a letter.
In the letter, I mentioned that I was also a Chamber member and that I wanted to introduce myself. I also said that I helped professional service businesses with their marketing. I didn’t do any kind of hard sell, but said I’d be following up by phone.
A few days later, I phoned and reached all of those I’d sent letters to. And in the call, I introduced myself, mentioned that I helped businesses like theirs attract more clients, and then learned more about their businesses.
I really didn’t pitch my services at all. I mostly got interested in them, asked some good questions about their business and marketing, and listened attentively.
Apparently, that approach worked quite well! Most of them wanted to meet and explore if I could help them with their marketing. Again, I didn’t pitch. There was zero hard sell.
Ultimately, a handful of those people turned into new clients and I was on my way to successfully growing my business.
What I discovered and practiced was almost too simple:
1. I connected with people I was already affiliated with (Chamber members).
2. I reached out with a low-key introductory letter.
3. I followed up by phone and didn’t sell; I mostly listened.
After a few years, this evolved into the following:
1. I gave talks to professional groups on the topic of marketing.
2. I collected business cards and then followed up by phone or email to get meetings.
3. I had low-key conversations where I didn’t sell; I mostly listened.
Fast forward 30 years and my marketing is very much the same. The methods are just a little different:
1. I connect with people I’m already affiliated with (people on my email list).
2. I invite them to attend an introductory Zoom webinar about attracting clients.
3. Those who are interested in learning more are invited to speak with me.
4. Then we have a conversation where I don’t sell; I mostly listen.
And, over the years, this has resulted in as many clients as I can work with.
To succeed with this, you need to adapt this approach to your situation:
1. Identify those you already have some connection or affiliation with (through networking, associations, social media, etc.)
2. Reach out with an ultra-simple email introducing yourself and requesting a meeting.
3. Have a conversation where you introduce yourself and your business, but don’t sell, mostly asking great questions and listening.
Yes, there are other things that are important such as having some in-depth information about your services on your website, a profile on LinkedIn, and credibility-building online content such as articles or videos.
But the heart of this marketing approach is simplicity itself:
Affiliation. Warm outreach. Low-key conversations. Deep listening.
If you have real, legitimate value to offer to your clients in the form of consulting, coaching, or training, this approach can work for you as well.