Small Business Marketing – Stay Away From 'Heart Sink' Clients!

Do you look forward to working with every single one of your clients? I mean really look forward – as in getting excited that you'll be speaking with them again soon? If there are any that do not fit that category, they may be what are known as 'heart sink' clients – which describes rather well how you feel when you see their next appointment is imminent in your diary.

When the order book or diary is not as full as you'd like it to be, there's a temptation to forget why you prefer to work with a certain type of client and say 'yes' to every inquiry. You know it's a mistake almost as soon as you sign them up.

Good clients can be hard to come by, and not only because they're being more thrifty these days, but they are still out there for you to find and work with. This is where having a system can help, one that could include the following:

Know Who Your Ideal Client Is

This may be simply clients who most want what you're offering – but not necessarily! Who do you most enjoy working with? Men or women? What age group? There are several ways to profile your ideal client using traditional demographic and psychographic measures. When I suggest doing this exercise to new clients, there's always a slight hesitation – until I reassure them that it does not mean they can not work with other types of clients if they want to!

Make it Clear Who You Work With

Once you have identified your ideal client, you need to make sure they can find you! Start with a brief statement on the Home page of your website that clearly says what you do and who you do it for, so visitors to that page can quickly know if they're in the right place. Continue adding more details to the message on a 'Who We Work With' page and use Case Studies your ideal client will be able to identify with.

Have a Qualifying Process

This is the bit many consultants and coaches miss out – and yet it saves wasting valuable time on inquiries that are illegally to result in business, as well as weeding out those potential 'heart sink' clients. Use a short questionnaire on your website for anyone wanting to have an initial free consultation. Asking the right questions will enable you to see in advance if the inquirer is a potential match with your ideal client profile – or not.

© Louise Barnes-Johnston, 2010

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