“How do I find more clients for my WordPress business?”, he asked.
The folks sitting in the room shifted in their seats as if it were some choreographed routine.
“Hustle!”, someone blurted out.
There was a collective laugh with a taste of pain and uncertainty. Like we’ve all been there before and we know what that means.
So I quickly agreed, but for some reason I wasn’t happy with that answer. Like saying hustle was a scapegoat.
There is no magic to all of this, you do have to hustle and you do have to bring your A game. However, that doesn’t mean you’re out there beating the streets and knocking on doors 14 hours a day.
Hustle comes in all shapes and sizes and that’s what I want to talk about today.
I wasn’t happy with that answer
This all went down at the WordCamp Providence 2013 talk I gave on Landing more clients while working from an island. The slides are actually from the same talk I gave at WordCamp Chicago a few months prior.
The gentlemen that asked me how to get more clients, was genuine. I could tell by looking at his eyes that he was honestly looking for an answer. It was an obvious pain point for him.
This is what we all struggle with when we start out, even though the answer is right in front of our eyes.
We can’t blame ourselves for asking this question, it’s a lesson we learn over the course of time. We get jaded from internet marketers and looking at the big companies announcing their 200,000th download or 45,000 paying customers world wide.
How. Do. We. Get. There. Too?!
First, there’s no magic wand. If you’re in the service business, you don’t have a product that you’ve built in your garage for the last 90 days with a particular market segment in mind with an ad budget at launch day.
You’re someone who know’s how to build a WordPress website, help the client understand your solution and hopefully lead them to success on the web.
It’s going to take some time.
I’m not talking years, but certainly some months until the machine starts rolling.
So if I could take back the short answer I gave the gentleman in my session, here’s what it would be…
You want to get paid. I want to build a legacy.
For better of for worse, every little thing I do I see it 50 steps out.
I don’t just want to build a business, I want purpose and I want others to see my purpose. If I wanted to just build websites to profit, I would have outsourced everything 5 years ago and cranked out templates ad nauseam.
Back to being jaded on the web — folks are too convinced about there’s this measurable formula where the client enters a funnel at some point, we get paid, and they ship off never to be heard of again.
Like after a few clicks of a button, some SEO keywords and blog posts customers come rolling in.
Wrong. You need to sell something first.
You need to be honest with what it is you want out of this business. Do you just want to make a pay check or do you want to help others realize their own potential.
You decide on just getting paid or building a legacy.
Your first customer is gold
Treat your first customer like gold and not just because she is paying you for your service.
You have to realize that this is an experience that will make or break you for months and years to come. This is the deciding point of who you are, what you offer and how you’re going to tell this to the world.
You should be evaluating every step you take with your engagement.
Why are they really hiring me? Is it for design or development talent? Neither?
What are my conversations like? Am I spending time talking about the technology I’m using or selling them on the value of what they can accomplish with my solution?
Where are the pain points I’m spending time on? Is it teaching them WordPress, why they should blog or are they literally having trouble booting up their computer?
Project budget. Did you undersell or over sell your services? Was the customer shopping around or did they say yes too quickly?
For those of you that follow me, you know my family owned a car dealership for 50 years. That’s where I grew up learning how to sell and build relationships.
No, not the cliche cars salesman — so get that out of your mind.
I learned a tactile skill that I can’t teach anyone, but comes with time and experience. After many, many, many cold engagements with customers — you start to get the “feel.”
You know who they are by their body language, where they focus their questions about particular features and how long they’ve been shopping.
This is why I want you to pay special attention to that first customer. Record this experience as best as possible and then pick it apart before you engage with your next.
It’s why NFL teams watch video for hours upon hours. Breaking this down will only help you get better.
Use your first customer as the hub
So that’s one customer down, how about the next?
Hopefully you passed your first customer experience with flying colors. If you did, chances are you can use them as a referral engine to find the next customer.
This is your first portfolio piece, rock it out and be proud.
Don’t short change yourself either. The design isn’t the only thing you put in your portfolio to entice the next set of clients. Use this as a platform to showcase why people should choose you:
Long term support
Training for 3rd party services (Mailchimp, Google Analytics, etc)
Now back to the hustle. This time, the virtual hustle.
Start to explore Google and get yourself a nice list for cold calling, e-mailing, following, and in-depth discovery.
Who do they know?
Who are their customers?
Who are their customers customers?
Who is their competition?
Who is their competitions customers?
Looking at this data ask yourself, “is this a vertical I can pursue?”
Did you like this market and is it something you think you can offer others in a nice systemized manner? If you can let’s go for it.
Casting a wide net
When we start out, we want all the business we can get.
We cast a wide net and pull back all the big fat fish we can onto the deck of our boat. We don’t care what’s on board — we’ll take it and eat it — we’re hungry.
I say this is fine in the beginning, but you need to have a plan to stop pulling in scup along with Tuna.
Who wants to spend their time frying up 100’s of little bony scup while your Tuna sits there rotting?
Become the Tuna fisherman as soon as possible.
Turn your clients into an audience
Have you landed 10 or more of the same type of client yet?
If you decided to pick a vertical and you’ve been successful at it, you have a treasure trove of data in front of you.
But before we get to what we’re going to do with that data, let’s talk about the audience factor.
If you’re truly looking to scale, short of hiring a sales team, you need a marketing and sales machine.
Something that’s going to fit into your workflow, accessible to the client and provides value to a prospect.
Your own blog
Weekly or monthly newsletter
This is why I told you to pick a vertical. You’re no longer “I help all small businesses ever invented.” but “I help Tuna Fishermen land more leads.” (imagine that — you get the point.)
Ok, back to the data.
Because you’ve landed 10+ of the same client, not only do you know what their needs are, you can evaluate their customers as well. You can pull from your experiences working with their shared pain points, industry issues and what really makes them tick.
Now you build the content and distribute it your audience.
You blog twice a week about their top industry headlines, launch a podcast interviewing their colleagues and every month you wrap this up in a nice little e-mail newsletter package delivered to their inbox.
Want to go further?
You create video tutorials or training that sits behind your own membership site. Now you can offer this as added value or you guessed it — a new revenue stream.
You’re the expert, people are going to come to you from your content and the referral engine that’s in place.
Sound familiar? That’s what I do on this very blog, my company blog and our YouTube channel.
Be the connector
Something that’s so often overlooked is connecting other people.
I always keep a running rolodex in my head of people who I think could be a fit for one of my clients or even a vendor.
Someone or some company that could be a great fit if they came together. If you’re listening to your client’s pain points or know their opportunity, you can make these connections so much easier.
If you have your marketing machine going this is a great platform to do it on. Team up with other service providers and see if you can offer a fit that makes sense.
Happen to see someone looking for a job? See if a client would want to hire them. See some industry news or something entertaining to pass on to your last buyer? Shoot them the link or video.
It’s a way for you to stay connected and provide that extra value faceless organizations can’t offer.
Now get out of your seat
Let’s get back to reality for a minute.
And just like a nagging parent, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
And guess what, a lot of people are. So you can’t just be behind your computer all day. You still need to get out and network, find new people and introduce yourself.
I don’t mean 100% 24/7 pitchy pitchy selly sell.
I mean “Hey I’m Matt and I solve problems with WordPress.” or “Hey I’m Matt, I run a podcast that helps startup agencies or solo entrepreneurs.”
Though I’ve landed A LOT of business just from Twitter, my largest deals have come from local networking and meetups.
Chamber mixers (if you have a good local chamber)
Other industry events like a Blog World or SXSW
Don’t feel like doing any of these? Start your own!
You can use Meetup.com to host your own event and if you’ve selected a strong vertical — you have a base to market to already!
Go. Do. This. Now!
I do apologize
So I’d like to apologize to the gentlemen in my talk that asked how to get more clients.
We all said hustle because that was an easy answer at the time. Probably a bit selfish because folks might not be in tune to share what really works for them.
Scared you might go and take their client list away I guess.
Hustle is physical, mental and accessible.
When people say it, it’s because it’s true. But only half true if you’re simply working harder and not smarter.
We’re in a new age of online marketing and it’s bleeding over into reality.
We have to have a great product/service that is simple to understand and backed by the story of who you are as a human being.
In the end, you can take my advice to become a better human marketer or you can go buy Google adwords and radio airwaves.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
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