The question I get most from clients is how to create consistent income.
I get this from my RE clients, from marketing clients, from entrepreneurs, from creatives…the industry doesn’t matter, the idea of having reliable income does.
Ready for the big secret?
The path to consistent income comes from consistent marketing.
Not so revolutionary.
Coca Cola, Toyota, Netflix – all of them spend tens of millions a year on marketing. All day, every day, their message is spread across all mediums. They stay top of mind by marketing.
Small businesses don’t have those same financial resources – but they do have the ability to take a page from the big guy’s playbook.
Sure, the big brands can outspend you all day. But as a small business, you have three big advantages:
- Small businesses can be more nimble with their marketing – and double down on what is working.
- Small businesses can often capitalize on trends before the big guys.
- Small businesses can focus on specific geographic or demographic information to micro-target their customers.
So how do you create consistency in your marketing?
Everyone serves a particular client. Really, you don’t serve everyone.
- Real Estate agents serve people in a small geographic area – and may further specialize in neighborhoods, or types of properties, first-time home buyers or empty nesters.
While Real Estate agents may network and refer to agents in other areas, their bread and butter are very specific to a small geographic area or type of buyer/seller.
- A fitness expert serves people who have weight issues, or who are interested in cross-fit or parkour or gymnastics. They may have a local gym serving a small geographic area or do online coaching for postpartum women.
While some of these customers may fit into more than one category (guys with weight issues who are into cross-fit) typically you want to narrow focus on the problems that are most painful for your customers.
- A spa serves people interested in health and wellness. They may specialize in certain types of massage or older women athletes or organic products. Their clientele may be traveling to a destination spa or serve locals. Maybe they sell a line of exclusive products.
But their messaging should speak to their primary client. For women athletes, the spa might want to focus on recovery treatments, sports massage, and wellness around diet and skin products. If their market is organic, the message might be around holistic health and wellness and the benefits of using natural organic ingredients.
These businesses all have a constant need for new leads and business. Some businesses, such as Real Estate have a longer sales cycle with more expensive sales. Some businesses such as the spa rely on small ongoing sales. The gym owner probably relies on a a membership with an upsell around services such as personal training or coaching.
Once you know precisely who you serve, you need to tailor your message in a way that speaks directly to the problems that your clients have – and the solution you provide that solves that problem.
It’s not enough for the gym owner to talk about how many treadmills he owns, or the hours of the gym. Instead, the gym should be demonstrating success in solving the client’s problem: how they have running clinics to prep for marathons along with specialized services for people who are new to running or are running their 20th marathon. They offer personal trainers who specialize in rehabbing from sports injuries. They have a child center where children can get fit while dad works out on his own.
Understand the pain that your client faces, find a way to solve that, and then tell people about it.
And once you have your message, you need to work consistently so that your business becomes the go-to source for solving the problem. The gym that promotes sports conditioning challenges, marathon preparation, ski season conditioning programs establishes its reputation as the place to go if you are an active athlete rather than just another place to jump on a treadmill.
Most important: stay on message. Be consistent in what you’re telling clients and potential clients. If the gym owner who promotes sports conditioning challenges suddenly starts talking about barre, Zumba, and yoga classes, his target audience begins to see him as a commodity, a gym that tries to attract everyone rather than a place that is catering to their needs as an athlete.
Once you know your audience, you need to get in front of them. Consistently.
When I tell clients this, immediately they think I am talking about constantly spending a ton of money on ads. While ads are a component of marketing, they are not the only piece of the puzzle.
Instead, you need to think laterally about where your client hangs out and their interests. The gym owner who wants to attract marathoners could:
- run specialized clinics in partnership with local shops that sell running shoes and gear
- promote on social sites around running
- offer couch-to-marathon training program at the gym pairing new runners with experienced trainers
- fund raise for a local charity supported by the marathon
- partner with nutritionists to create healthy diets for both weight maintenance and peak performance
- offer specialized branded running gear
- Run an online webinar around planning your training schedule
- Do an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on her Facebook Group and answer questions online.
- Track her own progress on Instagram with posts around your marathon training.
These are all ways to think about marketing. It is not just advertising. It is being everywhere that your audience hangs out so that you become the obvious choice when they need to solve their problem.
While advertising will let you get in front of a vertical audience – in a general or a very segmented way. But unless your audience already has some awareness that they have a problem AND that you are an ideal way to solve the problem, it can be a more expensive way to attract your ideal customer.
Instead, think about all the places your audience is – and how you can get in front of them most effectively.
You need to think about your client’s fears. concerns, and worries. What keeps your client up at night? Are they worried about injury, embarrassment, failure? Engage them on the pain and solve it for them.
Pitfalls to avoid:
#1 Don’t forget: you are selling to and trying to attract customers. Don’t try to sell to your peers.
This is a big one that businesses sometimes forget. They tailor their messaging and engagement to their peers.
The gym owner might be listening to “industry experts” rather than their clients. They may not focus their marketing to attracting ideal clients rather than just filling their space with bodies.
Real Estate agents might be worried about discount brokers, increasing mortgage rates, or slowing market trends and create content about how to overcome these issues. Your fellow agents might be interested in this, but clients don’t care. Instead, do a deep dive into the neighborhoods you serve – and provide excellent advice and service to your clients.
Spa owners might be chasing the latest trendy thing because “everyone else in their space is doing this.” Instead, understand the needs of their local clients. By listening and focussing on your clients, you might uncover a missing service that other spas are not providing.
#2 To get consistent clients, you need to build awareness.
Awareness is the first rung on the customer ladder. The climb happens one rung at a time.
Rung One: Awareness that they have a problem.
While this might feel obvious, sometimes clients have been living with their pain or aggravation for so long that it becomes noise in their life that they think they have to live with. Your job is to make them aware that what they are experiencing is a problem so you can nudge them up the ladder to the next rung.
Rung Two: Awareness that there is a solution.
Now that you have made them aware that they have a problem, you have to tell them that there is a way to solve this. There are solutions. This is where your business begins to edge into their consciousness.
What to avoid: pushing YOUR solution as the only solution. The client is still in the discovery process. It is highly unlikely that they are ready to buy. Just like you don’t get married on the first date, they are still getting to know you and are most likely not ready to buy.
Rung Three: Awareness of you as a business.
You have now educated them that they have a problem, and that there are solutions to their problem. Now it’s time to begin to introduce your ability to fix their problem. Create awareness that you can uniquely solve their problem.
This is where you demonstrate your skills, abilities, AND your unique connection to their needs and desires. At this point, you can begin to offer solutions – but again, the buyer probably is not quite ready to buy….yet.
Rung Four: Comparison shopping,
The customer is problem-aware, solution-aware, and now is trying to decide between you and the other guy.
This is where you clearly differentiate what you do.
- If you have clear competitors, you might set up a comparison table on your site that clearly shows your superiority.
- You might offer specific free offers – a training session at your gym, a mini-spa treatment or YouTube video instructions around self-care, a free home value walk through, new homebuyer seminars – that demonstrate your skills AND give potential clients a view into why they should consider your business.
- You might invite the potential client to a webinar or to a discovery call.
- You might send information (or maybe a sales rep) to talk with the client.
Marketing is all about becoming the best solution to the customer's problem. Click To Tweet
You know you’ve succeeded when your client tells you “I needed this and you were the first business I thought of.”