How to get clients without advertising or cold calling

To make a meaningful difference through your work, you need to have clients to help.

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You know it’s not enough that you just exist. You get that people need to know about you first. But when your mind turns to promoting your good work you think of cold calling or dishing out business cards at networking events. Or perhaps you imagine yourself forcing flyers into the hands of unsuspecting shoppers outside Sainsbury’s. Or you contemplate setting some of your hard-earned money aside to pay for an advert in your local paper. You’re not alone if these options don’t appeal. If budgets are tight.  Or if the mere thought of cold calling gives you hives.

‘Cold marketing’ (where there’s no pre-existing relationship with the people you’re approaching) is unsustainable on so many levels.

Think of it as ten units of effort for one unit of reward. Yes, you may well strike lucky with a flyer or an advert and find a new client. But when you consider the cost of producing it, the time you spent writing, re-writing, editing then deleting It, and all the other people who saw it and didn’t visit your website, call for more info or book an appointment – the cold approach isn’t how the most sustainable businesses grow. Plus, we’ve all become deeply cynical of these marketing techniques. You’ll know this from your own experience of being bombarded by sales messages. We’re suspicious when we know someone stands to gain from us saying yes. It’s like; “Well you would say that wouldn’t you. You want me to book an appointment with you. You want me to pay you.”

The bottom line is this:

It’s harder than ever before to stand out, to get noticed, to be believable and earn trust. You want to get people’s attention but they’re subjected to so many messages on a daily basis that they’re walking around in a bit of a haze. And getting through that haze can be really hard. Of course, all of this is excruciatingly frustrating when you’re actually trying to help them.

Thankfully, getting the attention of the people you’re best placed to help doesn’t have to equal outrageous things.

It doesn’t have to mean shouting the loudest, networking the hardest or resorting to techniques that are un-you or cost money. You can attract more of your ideal people in no-cost, integrity-filled ways so you don’t have to spend a bunch while you’re growing.

Don’t fancy cold calling or advertising? Try this:

  1. Start where you are. Use what you have.

Getting more bookings doesn’t have to start with getting new clients. If you have a list of existing clients who have benefitted from your approach and expressed an interest in keeping in touch, contact them first to offer follow-ups or something new. Much as we’d love to think we’re infinitely memorable, if we don’t keep the conversation going then people are likely to forget who we are. This is also a good place to start looking for referrals to new clients. Remind your previous clients how you help and ask them to recommend you to people who would be a good fit for the service you provide.

  1. Don’t shy away from niche

The thing is, if you’re busy trying to be known for everything then you can’t be known for just something. Relevance is absolutely critical in marketing and so having a niche gives your entire business focus. If the messages you put out there speak directly to the problems, challenges or cravings your potential clients have, they take notice. You also become easier to refer and more sensitive to opportunities that will connect you with your right people.

  1. Buddy up

If you know someone who offers services that complement yours, teaming up with them could be a win/win. We’re all stronger together and collaboration is a powerful way of getting on the radar of people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.

  1. Figure out where their attention is already going

People with problems want solutions. They’re already looking for a way out. When you’re clear about the problems you help people with, it’s far easier to figure out where these people are already spending their time, their money or their attention.  What problems do you solve? Where are your ideal people already looking for solutions to the problem you can help them with? Who do they already know, like and trust (within the context of this problem)? That’s where your marketing is going to have the greatest impact. That’s where to position yourself to be found by more of your ideal people (so you don’t have to run yourself ragged searching for them).

  1. Gift people something they want and need

Package up something super-helpful and valuable for your niche. Then offer it to people in a way that’s easy for them to pass on. PDFs, checklists, tips, audios, videos etc. all work well. Be careful not to confuse this free gift with offering your core service for free or at a reduced rate. It’s about offering something as a taster – something genuinely useful that gives your ideal people a true feel for who you are, what you’re all about and how you can help them. If they like it, it just so happens you run a business that can help them even more.

About Lisa Barber

Lisa Barber - Roots and WingsLisa Barber helps complementary, sports and holistic beauty therapists to get more perfect-fit clients and to set up their businesses for the long term. Her video course, ‘How to Market Your Holistic Practice’ is currently available for FHT members. For affordable, DIY marketing techniques and smart, sleaze-free strategies that work, click here to get her online video series.

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