Do you feel that you're wasting valuable marketing efforts on tire-kickers: a large and growing market segment? They subscribe to all your free offers -- but leave their credit cards behind.
Early in my business life, I talked to anyone and everyone, enthusiastically. I gave away classes, e-books, articles, and more.
But soon I was forced to confront the reality of opportunity cost. While I was chatting happily with the freebie-seekers, I lost the opportunity to update my websites, create new products, and write more articles. -- activities that would most likely bring "real" paying clients.
1. Communicate “professional” and “commercial” on every page of your website.
Like many professionals-turned-marketers, I was nervous about sounding too sales-y. But when I began learning more about copywriting, especially copy for the web, my style became more direct. As soon as you arrived on my website, you knew: Sales were happening here.
What I learned: Serious buyers rarely got turned off. They want to be sold. Freebie-seekers and tire-kickers got the message quickly: You have to pay to play.
2. Create low-cost or no-cost products that deliver bite-sized portions of your expertise.
Serious buyers want to assess your style and expertise before buying. They may want to develop a relationship before handing over their credit cards.
So you need the basics: website content, ebooks, ezines, and audio. You may even offer one-time consulting sessions so prospective clients can get a sense of your style.
3. Donate services for everyone’s benefit - not to help a single needy visitor.
Back in the early days, I felt sorry for everyone who called. But soon I discovered a hard truth. These “needy” folks were paying large sums to more experienced consultants who knew how to say "No!"
If you genuinely want to help others, donate your services through nonprofit and charitable organizations where you will get recognition, testimonials, and possibly future referrals.
When I volunteered with a pet adoption center, many years ago, the coordinator warned, "Those who volunteer for selfish reasons will do better in the long run than those who bring dreams of saving the world." She was right.
Clients will get better service from a non-profit agency dedicated to filling their needs than from a reluctant but sympathetic consultant.
4. Clarify your business status as soon as anyone calls.
Some folks will call before they visit your website. Maybe they’ve seen an article or heard you speak – and they’re psyched. But often they're confused about what you offer.
Typically, your caller begins with, "I need help! Can you advise me about my career change?"
If you're a career consultant, your best answer will be, "Probably yes. Please visit my website and review my schedule of programs and fees."
Serious buyers will appreciate this message. "How much does it cost" is a signal of intention to buy.
5. Turn discount services into promotion tools.
Every so often clients present unique, interesting problems. They can’t pay -- but you’d enjoy the challenge of finding solutions.
You may be tempted to offer discounted service in return for a testimonial or referral. These clients rarely value what you offer, so they deliver lukewarm testimonials.
Instead, get permission to record a call, which you can use as a demo on your website. Or ask to write up their stories as a case study, which can be sold as a Special Report.
Finally, pay attention to the way you choose your own services. Most of us unconsciously send messages that attract people with similar attitudes.
Recently “Ernestine,” asked me how to network with coaches she admired. “I’ve seen their websites,” she said, “and I’d love to chat with them as colleagues.”
I advised Ernestine to subscribe to their ezines instead. “Then maybe buy an ebook or two,” I suggested, “and perhaps take a class. But the days of free mentorship are long gone.”
One of Ernestine’s role models sent a warm thank-you following an ebook purchase. Ernestine responded and they had a brief email exchange. Another coach encouraged participation in a Q&A class.
Most of all, Ernestine's ebook purchases helped her decide how to choose her paid mentor. She didn’t waste her time – and theirs – and she presented herself as a professional, not a needy person.
By Paul W. Abernathy, CMECP®