Want to know how to find who will pay for your service? Good. That’s the first step.
You know the feeling you get when you read the website of an entrepreneur you admire and think to yourself “How did she write something so compelling? Her words are magical. It’s like I just have to keep reading. I want to sign up for her services and I don’t even need them!”
It isn’t envy. It isn’t competitiveness. But it’s … something.
It’s called Brand Envy. We have to give it a name. Because just like Chicken Pox, once we’ve given the condition a name, we can figure out how to deal with it, and eliminate it.
And this article will show you how to just that.
It’ll help you answer questions like:
- How do I figure out what services or product to sell?
- What do my customers actually want from me?
- How do I translate that into my website?
And here’s how we’ll do it:
First, we’ll talk about how to decide who you want to work with, what to say to them when you meet, and turning that conversation into copy on your website.
We’ll then move onto how to get your first paying client.
And finally, I’ll talk through why stable income in business is a myth and what you can do to get it.
So, without further ado … shall we?
- Understanding Your Customers & Deciding Who You Want To Work With
- Interview Your Target Market
- First Find Ten People
- How, Pray Tell – Do I Find These Good People?
- Look Under Someone Else’s Nose
- Starting A Business: How To Get Your First Paying Client
- Speak Up
- Go Online
- Stay Local
- Getting Regular Customers – The Myth Of A Stable Income
- Repeat The Tasks That Bring Regular Business
That’s right. Not those willing to pay for your services, but aren’t interesting to you. Nor those who your competitors are working with.
But who you want to work with most.
Who wants to work with customers that they’re not interested in, right?
This is the first step if you want to find out how to find who will pay for your service – the first step to setting up a business.
So the first thing you need to do is be clear on exactly who your ideal customer is.
According to you. Whether this involves the research you’ve done with customers so far, or if you’re starting from scratch.
The clearer you are on who you’re serving, the easier it will be to write your copy, and sell your services.
We won’t only be working with theory on this either, which comes later (in Part Two). First things first …Take out a quill and ink pen and paper – or open up a doc on your laptop (21st century living, right?) and answer the following questions as fully as you can.
The more detail you add, the better. You really want to get into their head, put yourself in their position, and write as if you were this person.
- What is their gender and what age-range do they fall into?
- What are their values? Which ones do you share?
- How are their values linked to the services you provide?
- What do they fear about themselves, their life, and their future?
- How are their fears connected with the service you provide?
- What are their beliefs about themselves?
- What is the connection between their beliefs and your services?
- What are their hopes for the future?
- How are these hopes linked to your services?
- What do they struggle with the most?
- What’s going through their heart and mind the second before they buy from you?
Getting into the details of this theory will help you define the kind of person you’re looking to work with, so that when you move to Part Two, you’ll know who they are when you go looking for them.
This way you will know how to find who will pay for your service.
Most people consider going into business with fictitious people. Why? Because they answer questions like the ones above and decide they know their market.
Speaking to actual human beings, with lives, and emotions, and honey-eyed Labradors called Cuspin – this is what takes your ideal client description from theory and into practice and is how to find who will pay for your service.
It allows them to tell you how they feel in their own words, so then you can take those words and add them to your marketing material and website.
So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
Show genuine interest in who they are and what they’re struggling with. Have a conversation that focuses on them and ask them questions that will provide further clarity to the description of them you wrote.
These people could become real-life clients. Now isn’t that a bonus we all love?
Lovely bonuses aside, I’m sure you have a question, and it’s this:
They’re right under your nose …
Ask for referrals from your immediate network. Ask the question to everyone you know.
From friends, to family, colleagues, the neighbours, and the kind gent at your local patisserie.
How you phrase the question will always define the quality of your answer. Go back to your ideal client description and pick out one distinguishing factor about this person, and then add this to your question.
For example, if you’re a career coach, you could ask:
“I’m looking for a woman who’s been in a high-powered corporate job, but may be thinking about scaling back to start a family, and is worried about her finances.”
If you’re a Pilates instructor, you could ask:
“I’d like to speak to men who have chronic back problems because they sit down all day at their job.”
If you’re business coach, you could ask:
“I’d love to talk to a woman in her 30’s who wants to leave her corporate job to start a business.”
The more specific you are with the kind of person you’d like to talk to, the more likely you are to receive a referral for a person just like that.
The other way to find them is to:
People hang out with people just like them, right?
Once you’ve spoken to a couple of people that fit your ideal client profile, ask them for a referral to someone they know who also fits the bill.
True story: When I first started my business, the first two client interviews came from referrals from my existing network. The other eight? They came from referrals from the two people I initially interviewed.
Who knew The Internet had a nose? Look under it.
Do write an update asking for people that fit your ideal client profile. The sooner you ask, the better.
Don’t only send out a Tweet or put up a status update on Facebook – ask your friends to retweet and share. This is how you go from your own little network, to the much larger network of your friends.
Take it a step further and look beyond just your friends.
Are you part of Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc? Put an update on those pages and see how the magic starts happening.
And if you’re worried people may not take time out of their busy lives to talk to you, you could try offering them something in return.
A free sample of your skills, par example – is the best way to demonstrate your services, and potentially gain a new client
So now you’ve found these people, what on earth do you ask them?
There are two important things to remember when interviewing people:
Thing one: Dig into the detail of what they’re struggling with. Once they give their initial answer, ask follow up questions to determine the emotions behind their actions.
Thing two: Focus on the past, not the future. Past behaviour is a far more realistic indicator of future behaviour, than a ‘what if’ scenario is. Remember there’s a big difference between what people say they’ll do, and what they’ll actually do (every bad boyfriend you’ve ever dumped is testament to that fact).
Remember that this isn’t purely a question and answer session – it’s a conversation. Once you’ve asked a few initial questions, the follow-up questions will naturally come to you.
After the intro’s have been done, here’s a list of questions that act as a guide to the kinds of things you should be asking during each interview.
- What are you struggling with right now? What makes this a struggle for you?
- When have you purchased a product or service to help you with xx – where xx = the thing they’re struggling with (that’s about as complex as equations get with me). This question determines if they have the ability and willingness to pay.
- How was your experience with that service? What would you change?
- If you could change one thing about your life/business right now, what would it be?
- How many times a week do you use Twitter/Facebook/etc?
- Which personalities and brands do you love the most? (the last two questions will help you decide where your clients hang out – and market to them there)
- What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Now you know how to find your market and what to ask them –we’re ready for Part Three, where we look at how to take what they say and add it to your website and marketing material.
I have a business idea – now what?
This is an important question that most would-be business owners ask, but many don’t take the action they’re meant to take.
Instead of answering the question, they head off to print business cards, build a website and go all-out on social media, as if all those things are answering the question
How would you do it?
There are hundreds of articles out there that will give you lists of things to do, but they all have one problem:
They make it far too complicated.
They’ll tell you things like:
- Start a crowdfunding campaign!
- Team up with someone with a complimentary service!
- Create a website and drive traffic to it!
Apart from being vague and completely unhelpful, they miss out the biggest thing that you should be doing that will get you your first paying client:
Figuring out what problem your potential wants to have solved – and solving it.
This comes from researching who they are and finding out what they want.
Now, let’s assume that you have done this research and already know exactly what service you want to offer. What next?
Here are some ideas on how you can find your first paying client:
Tell everyone exactly what you do.
And by everyone, I mean everyone.
Go through your friends on Facebook and contacts on LinkedIn and send them a message updating them on what you do (and asking what they’re up to too).
By being vocal about your new venture, you’re ensuring that, even if they don’t need your product or service today, the people you contact may do in the future (or know someone who will).
By not taking this one step, you’re missing out on a lot of immediate business (also known as low hanging fruit (that phrase always makes me think of apples).
If you provide a service based business (writing, designing, photography), go to websites that advertise freelancer jobs like this (or advertise your own). CraigsList.com and GumTree.com are useful sites for a variety of jobs.
To get more specific, do a Google search for Jobs for freelance [insert your job title here]
For example Jobs for freelance photographers in London.
The results will take you to sites where your clients are advertising jobs. Why not take the easy route?
When you know your potential clients, you know where they tend to spend their time. Go to where they are.
Are they part of local groups, communities or organisations where you could deliver a talk?
By getting out into the community, you’re starting to build rapport and trust with them with face-to-face-conversation. And by doing things like giving a talk, you’re already setting yourself up as a leader and expert.
Now, there are other ways to get your first client – many, many of them. Getting more ideas on how to get your first paying client is a quick Google search away.
But remember – most people are confused about where to start, and having a bigger list of ideas will only add to the confusion.
Keep it simple. Focus on the three ways to get your first paying client listed here – when you’re solving a real need, it only takes a few conversations before you’re being paid for what you do.
And that’s when you know you’ve got a real business on your hands.
All entrepreneurs tell you this. Those that have a job say the same thing. It’s a risk, they say. And yet, there are some of us crazy enough to pursue it. Despite the lack of stability, the uncertainty, and the potential years it takes to ‘make it’.
Of course, I’m talking about starting a business. No surprises there.
But would it surprise you to know that, even though a job can bring regular income, it can be the same way in business?
It was something that one of our insightful readers raised in the survey we conducted a short while ago. One of the things he was struggling with in business was getting regular customers.
Now, without knowing the exact business he runs, it’s tough to answer the question accurately to his particular situation.
But it can be answered to cover what most business owners can do when they’re struggling for repeat, regular income.
So to offer some advice, I’m going to go with what works well with my brain, and keep it simple.
And this simple answer will apply to any business – brick and mortar (like a restaurant) or online:
Let’s break that down into three simple steps:
What do you do to market your business? Do you blog regularly, pay for ads, conduct email marketing, connect on social media, or something else?
Make a list of everything, regardless of whether it’s brought any paying customers just yet.
STEP 2: WHICH ONE IS THE MOST PROFITABLE?
Next to each, trace back how many customers, and how much income, each task has brought.
It may not be completely clear with every task. Some tasks can be linked to peaks in income, traffic or new customers.
Once you’ve done this, rank them in order of new customers, from highest to lowest.
STEP 3: HOW MUCH TIME CAN YOU DEVOTE TO THEM?
Now you know which tasks create the most customers, set time aside every week to focus on these tasks.
But regularly repeating these tasks will mean your income will remain somewhat stable.
Most business owners will find it’s when they take their efforts away from marketing and sales that their income begins to drop too.
Don’t do that.
Keep it simple by repeating the tasks that bring income in.
Business may be a risk, but there’s always a way round it, right?
Razwana Wahid is the founder of Relentless Movement. A copywriting service for coaches who want to write bold and sell big. She’s the author of the definitive game plan for coaches to brand your business, market your services, and run your coaching practice like a pro. Download your copy of the book here.