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  • #990047
    Courtney Kim
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    Hi Everyone,

    I have been running my brand and web design business for the last 5 years. I’ve finally found my niche and become more of a brand consultant for small businesses, helping them define compelling stories and develop their vision into a strong branding – online and offline.

    Referrals have been good so far, and I have a soft heart for helping small business owners. But I always end up putting too much time and work for not enough money. I believe my creative work can apply on any scalable project, and I want to be able to attract bigger clients but don’t know where to start. Can anyone please suggest some tips or marketing perspectives that I should look?

    Thanks in advance.
    Courtney

    #1175107
    tonyk
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    Welcome to the forums, Courtney. I would suggest attending as many networking events as possible, as well as blogging on your field of expertise as this will portray you as an expert in your field.

    I wish you all the best in your pursuit.

    #1175108
    RachelWrites
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    Cold calling. It sucks but it works.

    Identify the players, get an appointment, show your portfolio / testimonials. Offer to do an initial consult for free. Do a great job, get referrals.

    You just have to get “in” with the bigger players. Then you will find that the referral base you’re getting with smaller clients starts happening with bigger ones.

    When I first started copywriting years and years ago, I came across a great blog post from a successful copywriter (who has worked with some of the bigger names in the country). My niche was not big business, but I used the advice to help grow a significant database of clients when referrals were slow.

    #1175109
    JohnW
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    Hi Courtney,
    You are talking about one of the toughest marketing issues – service positioning.

    You don’t give us anything to go on about your business and your skills/interests, so we can only be hypothetical.

    I suggest your positioning is likely to involve:

    • Your desired client focus
    • Your service skillset
    • Your own interests
    • The perception/reality you want to portray and implement
    • Your experience/expertise
    • Your location

    The more closely you focus on these issues AND implement your ability to fulfil the needs of your target audience, the more successful you will be,

    Too often people are scared to say “no” to clients they don’t really want to service.

    Start by defining the types of clients you want to attract.

    • How large are they? (Revenue or staff size)
    • What industries are you targeting? Do you want to target service industries, retailers, online e-commerce customers, B2B companies, government, etc.?
    • Where are your target clients located? Start with those that are closest to you.
    • What industries do I like working with and do I have examples of work I can profer in this industry?

    Now define the types of services you want to provide to these client types.

    Eg: Do you just want to provide:

    • Logo and corporate style development?
    • Print design work?
    • Website design?
    • Website implementation in specific publishing systems? (Eg WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc.)
    • Internet and digital marketing services

    Focus, focus, focus on your target market and services is the key. Then reflect that on your website and your entire outgoing communications messages.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1175110
    Justin Laju
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    Hi Courtney

    If you have your “bread and butter” marketing established and you now want bigger clients, I would suggest a targeted appointment setting campaign.

    Have a chat with a list broker and narrow in on the demographic you want to engage, ie turnover size, industry, number of employees etc

    This way you get a target list with decision makers names.

    Then you just call them all systematically, introduce yourself and tell them what great results you have been achieving for clients, and ask them for a time that’s convenient for you to pop in for a chat. They may will either say, no, ask for an email, or agree on a time.

    Create a system on a CRM and maybe use Google Calendar to schedule callbacks..

    ie create an ongoing appointment setting system, and keep plugging away through out the year.

    Expect your sales cycles and sales discussions to be quite different with the bigger players, and always be mindful of multiple decision makers (they should all be present for the meeting).

    We run web design/development seo appointment setting campaigns all the time just like that – and it works very well.

    #1175111
    Natalie Khoo
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    Hi Courtney. Congrats of running your own business. Sticking it out and
    making it work for the past 5 years is a great achievement. As others have
    suggested, networking as much as possible to foster relationships is
    crucial. But it sounds like one of your key concerns is around feeling
    overworked and underpaid because you are too generous towards your clients.
    My advice for you is to not be afraid to charge for your research and
    project management time. Always allocate a few additional hours of paid
    work to compensate for all the back and forth / additional support you
    provide during the process. I never used to charge for this, but now I do
    and it makes me a lot less stressed :) Best of luck!

    #1175112
    Jenny Spring
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    Courtney Kim, post: 203752 wrote:
    Hi Everyone,

    I have been running my brand and web design business for the last 5 years. I’ve finally found my niche and become more of a brand consultant for small businesses, helping them define compelling stories and develop their vision into a strong branding – online and offline.

    Referrals have been good so far, and I have a soft heart for helping small business owners. But I always end up putting too much time and work for not enough money. I believe my creative work can apply on any scalable project, and I want to be able to attract bigger clients but don’t know where to start. Can anyone please suggest some tips or marketing perspectives that I should look?

    Thanks in advance.
    Courtney

    Courtney

    I feel your pain!

    About 6 months ago I had a long hard look at my profit/loss, and couldn’t work out why there was plenty of business coming in the door, but not the profit I was expecting from it. The reality was that my team and I were just not charging for all the work/hours we put in. And I was the biggest culprit.

    The reality is that if you have a service that people want, then you do need to charge appropriately for it, and record your hours accurately.

    Your clients do, and will continue to appreciate what you do.

    Be realistic with yourself. If you want to build a long term business, then you need to be a business owner, not a hobbyist.

    Good Luck!
    Jenny

    #1175113
    camillapeffer
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    • Total posts: 12
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    Great question!

    I would be looking at where your ideal client is hanging out – online and offline – and then, essentially, stalk them ;)

    Without knowing who your ideal client is, it’s hard for me to make any suggestions, so I’ll tell you my story and hopefully you can take something away from my experience.

    I had the same problem you’re having a few months ago (and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still a problem). I’m a copywriter and I like working with life coaches, nutritionists and others in the health and wellness industry – but nothing I was putting out there was communicating that. I’ve learnt that you need to be specific and upfront about your ideal client, so now I’ve updated my website with this key information (specifically, on my About Me page, but also on all my online bios). I’ve also just hired a business coach to help me with branding so that I can really hone in on my ideal audience.

    It might help to have someone take a look at your messaging and see if you’re positioning yourself in such a way to attract those high end clients?

    #1175114
    iaindooley
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    • Total posts: 74
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    There seem to be two issues here:

    1) How to service the lower end of the market profitably and;
    2) How to attract bigger clients

    Fortunately, you can do both simultaneously! Firstly, by creating productised consulting services with well defined parameters and fixed prices, you can scale your business at the lower end of the market profitably. Additionally at the low end of the market, you can use information products (courses, eBooks, membership sites) to service clients profitably.

    As you do that, you build authority, and free up more of your own time to focus on growth. With that time, you can write helpful articles, do speaking gigs and become the “go to” person in your niche and market. By giving away a tonne of information for free (and selling some too!) you help the lower end/less profitable market sectors, who are more inclined to “DIY”, but then also market yourself as the premiere person for larger enterprises who will never bother to do it themselves, and just want to make sure they’re choosing a good and trusted supplier.

    For examples of very successful consultants that do this see:

    http://quicksprout.com/
    http://conversionxl.com/
    http://copyhackers.com

    #1175115
    John Romaine
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    Look at traditional media. See where they are already advertising.

    Big companies have allocated marketing budgets, and they will be advertising across all forms of traditional media.

    1. Newspapers
    2. Magazines
    3. Radio
    4. TV
    5. Billboards
    6. Public transport

    …etc etc

    If they can afford a full page advertisement on page 3 of the Courier Mail, or a TV ad during prime time, they have money and should fit your desired customer profile.

    As for having a “soft heart for helping small business owners”, that’s admirable, but if you end up destroying your own business in order to save others’ then that’s never going to work.

    – Know exactly who your ideal customers are, and go where they already are.
    – Never lower your rates to accommodate the client.
    – Know exactly what your numbers are.
    – Always prequalify your leads (you should be doing this during the initial consultation)
    – Split up your services offerings to accommodate different customer avatars (if you so wish)

    As for getting high end clients, you could probably pick up 50 leads today, just by buying a stack of magazines from the local newsagency.

    EDIT – Here’s a tip. Sit down and create a fictitious customer profile. Seriously, it helps. Give them a name, age, location….everything that helps you understand who you are trying to serve. (You can have more than just one, but be very accurate) This is something that I learnt from both Justin Brooke and David Jenyns.

    Here’s an example…good luck.

    fred.jpg

    #1175116
    AlexZooPD
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    Hi Courtney,

    Feeling your pain!

    Some great answers above in regards to identifying those big ‘dream clients’

    But how are you going to get there attention when you find them??

    Here is my advice on that:

    It’s called ‘Lumpy mail’ and its a spin on the traditional form of direct mail.

    Once you’ve identified say 10-30 or so ‘dream clients’, you do some creative direct mailing to grab there attention.

    Send them something called ‘lumpy mail’

    Long story short, it’s like a small package which will stick out like a sore thumb when it gets to their office. It’s ‘lumpy’ which means it can’t get lost at the bottom of a pile of other letters, it must be put at the top!

    Lets face it: who can resist opening up a mystery package? I sure cant!

    Inside this package you provide value in some way, include your sales letter/pitch stating how you can help, and also something creative to catch there attention. (e.g I’ve heard of one example where someone sent shoe in the package along with a note saying “I’m trying to get my foot in the door!”)

    Simply pick your dream clients, and start sending them lumpy mail once or twice a month, always providing value in some way so you’re not annoying them.

    Here is a video where some explains it in a little more detail – watch the 3rd video down titled: “How to get your prospects attention” (P.S this blog is a great resource for all of you online marketers out there)

    http://lionzeal.com/client-seo/

    This is something I will be doing this year, in an attempt to land my dream clients – I have no doubt that it will go well.

    hope that helps!

    #1175117
    writeNOISE
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    Courtney, I’m also feeling your pain! And while I don’t have any pearls of wisdom that haven’t already been covered, I just wanted to thank you for posting the question – and thank you to everyone here who’s offered advice.

    I hope you have success reeling in some of those big guns!

    #1175118
    Stephen Mayall
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    • Total posts: 20
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    Hi Courtney,

    I would start by defining your new ideal client in a little more detail first, what do you mean by bigger? corporates or medium sized businesses? corporates may be more demanding and require the services or a larger agency however for some your size may mean you’re more agile and will give better quality of service.

    Content marketing and blogging can do well for positioning yourself once you understand your target and what value you can offer them.

    I would recommend taking a Duct Tape Marketing approach when running a service business. Create a series of offerings that will to turn your suspects into prospects, clients and repeat clients. By creating a group of offerings for them.

    Something like the following:
    Suspects: A free guide, tips, checklist,template, ebook or webinar.
    Prospects: Self study training or low cost foot in the door offer
    Clients: group training, consulting arrangement
    Premium clients: retainer arrangements etc

    You can use your FREE offering to gain your target audiences interest by promoting it through ppc ads, facebook ads, direct mail, social media posts, leaflets etc.

    Something you could do as an example is offer a free brand audit, where you offer to do a basic audit of your prospects brand free. Create a template (for the audit) and set of steps that you follow so you work to a set amount of time on every prospect. Then only present the information to them in person (this is all you want in return) finish it with recommendations and pitch a fixed fee offer to them such as creating a set of brand guidelines for them for anywhere between $500-$2,500

    Hope that helps.

    Courtney Kim, post: 203752 wrote:
    Hi Everyone,

    I have been running my brand and web design business for the last 5 years. I’ve finally found my niche and become more of a brand consultant for small businesses, helping them define compelling stories and develop their vision into a strong branding – online and offline.

    Referrals have been good so far, and I have a soft heart for helping small business owners. But I always end up putting too much time and work for not enough money. I believe my creative work can apply on any scalable project, and I want to be able to attract bigger clients but don’t know where to start. Can anyone please suggest some tips or marketing perspectives that I should look?

    Thanks in advance.
    Courtney

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