Some of my clients on my programmes were talking in a Facebook group this morning. Many of them were saying just how few ‘good’ customers and how many ‘bad’ customers they work with.
I think it was an eye opener for them because most of us are just grateful in the early days that ANYONE will buy from us. It never occurs to us that we have a choice. But we do!
What you put out there is what you will attract.
If you aren’t specific about who you work with or sell to, and you’re not specific about what you’ll do for them then you’ll attract a random assortment of clients who either happen upon you by chance or get referred to you by well-meaning friends.
The impact of this on your business is that you haven’t got a clue about how you help people. I remember when I first started out as a marketing consultant, many years ago, and I was desperate for business. I’d just left a job I hated and I had spent a euphoric weekend loving the fact that I never needed to go back. Monday morning came around and reality bit me on the bum – I needed to make money, fast. I went to some networking events, I phoned around old employers and I generally just put the word out that I was looking for work. I priced myself good and cheap and sure enough, the work began to come in.
I attracted people who wanted cheap marketing. Loads of them.
And before long I was completely overwhelmed – I didn’t have enough time in the day to deal with these people.
They wanted ‘cheap’ so they didn’t value what I did. They were never satisfied. They were so needy. They wouldn’t sign off jobs, they always wanted MORE. And because I’d been so desperate for the work, I hadn’t put anything in place to manage their expectations. I hadn’t put targets in place or any boundaries to say ‘this is when I’ve done my part.’
I worked like this for a couple of years- every day, every evening and weekend, I didn’t take holidays because I didn’t have time and couldn’t afford them because my rates were so low and no-one was paying on time anyway.
I worked 2 Christmases with only Christmas Day off. I was miserable but I couldn’t get off the darned hamster wheel.
It Had To Stop
It all stopped when I had my daughter. I was just too tired to work this way, I didn’t have the energy and something had to give. I decided that I’d only work with those clients I liked, there were a handful and I’d start afresh with them once I’d come back from my 4 weeks maternity leave (I couldn’t afford to take any more time off). So I decided that I’d cherry pick the clients I wanted to keep. I chose small manufacturing businesses and an engineering firm because they treated me well, paid on time and valued what I did. I contacted them to say that I was changing the way I was working and it would be project based from now on. They said ‘fine’. I said, I’m only working these days – they said ‘fine’, I said here are my new rates, they said ‘great, we’ll take that package.
And that was a revelation to me.
I Changed My Strategy
From then on I decide to specialize in engineering and manufacturing businesses who didn’t have a marketing person but needed one. I got referrals from my lovely clients. I networked at engineering type events. I got involved in an engineering/manufacturing forum. I started to really specialize. I was THE marketing person in that sector. And I got more work, so I created some more expensive packages and people bought them. And that’s how I got off the hamster wheel.
The more specialized you become, the more profitable your business and the more you can cherry pick who you work with.
So, it’s up to you. Either spend your days on the hamster wheel working for peanuts with people who don’t value you OR take a stand.
Decide to specialize and choose to work with people who value you, working on stuff that makes you happy.
Which way are you going to go?
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.