It is easy to get lost. Lost in the myriad of media options available to you as a business owner fishing for clients.
Youtube ads and Youtube Channels. Facebook pages, and Facebook ads. Google SEO and Google Adwords. Outbrain and Sitescout. Yellow pages, and direct mail. Newspapers, and magazines. TV, Radio and Multimedia. Billboards, flyers, and pamphlets.
Yet, despite of having virtually dozens of choices of media to acquire clients, it is harder than ever to gain a new client today.
Well, today we address that.
Because a reliable client acquisition system is the backbone for any business that is going to thrive. Unless you know you can pay X number of dollars to acquire Y number of clients every week, you can’t really build a business.
Clients are the most important asset in your business. What they think of you is your brand, not your logo. Whatever they like about your company is what your USP is – not your tagline or slogan. Whatever you have in your company that serves their needs, wants and desires is an asset, everything else is a liability.
I was recently staying at Hyatt.
Pretty much every employee at Hyatt is very well behaved, polite and honestly… impressive. Except one. We had a myriad of bad experiences with just this one employee, who works at, perhaps manages a bar on the Lobby floor.
The very first time I went into this bar, I disliked him. I had not yet seated, and he, rather rudely, asked me if I would like to order something. That tone, his demeanor, his lack of courtesy, was rather conspicuous.
This behavior continued throughout my stay at the hotel. My female colleague felt like he was staring at her legs, and I experienced hostile behavior from him more than once.
While every other employee at Hyatt is an asset – they basically do whatever they can to make you feel good… this particular employee is a liability.
I may actually never visit that particular Hyatt hotel ever again – largely because of this one employee. It’s all just bad business.
Now, I fully realize that I sound like a crybaby when I complain about a rude employee. And for the most part, I don’t complain. But not when I am paying over two hundred dollars a night to stay in a five star hotel. And not when I am paying over ten dollars for a slice of cheesecake.
If I pay top dollar, I expect top class treatment. That is it.
And so do all your clients.
Or at least, your best spending clients. The ones who you should be focusing a lion’s share of your attention, as well as resources on.
If you are not charging top dollar for whatever you sell, you are doing yourself, and your company, and your family… and your employees a huge disservice.
Because you are not paying yourself as much as you could be… and your family is not enjoying the same degree of financial freedom and stability it could have… your employees aren’t taking home the same packages that they could have… and your company can not grow as fast as it should have…
But that’s not all…
I am a very loyal client. I also happen to be a big spender. And a big tipper. But I am also one of the hardest to acquire clients. I am not easy to sell to – the first time.
Once you make the first sale to me, though… once you put in the effort… your company might just find that it only takes a handful of clients like me to fund literally all your growth.
That I am loyal as a client becomes absolutely clear when you realize that I drive ten extra miles to buy ice cream from a particular vendor who treats me very well over others that do not. Ten extra miles. For an ice cream. Every single time.
It’s not like I don’t have ice cream joints near my house. There are dozens of them around. But I refuse to buy from any of them… simply because they won’t treat me like a rockstar. Sure, they sell cheap ice creams. And to be honest, as far as taste and quality of their product goes, they don’t do a bad job either.
But it’s the treatment I get at this particular ice cream joint ten miles away from my home that charges well over fifteen dollars for a three-scoop ice-cream that makes me loyal to them.
Over the years, I have literally delivered at least twenty new clients to them. I have had my clients meet me in that joint. I have taken my dates out for dessert. I have taken friends and family members there.
More than half of these people actually eat there more frequently than I do now.
Do you want to know how they won me over in the first place?
By simply filling a void.
If you think it’s hard to sell ice creams, or that there is a lot of “tough” competition in that industry, then you are thinking about cheap ice creams. It may be hard to sell those because there is so much competition. Personally, I have always hated having to buy a box of ice cream, waiting in a queue to checkout, going back home and serving it into a cup myself before finally eating it.
One day this guy comes knocking at my door and offers me a free ice cream. “No obligations”, he says “We just opened a new store. And we hope to have you as a client for life. So just come on over with friends, family, clients, whoever you want… and pay nothing, and have as much ice cream as you want. It’s on us. Just ask for me when you get there.”
So a couple of weeks later I am passing by that street, and I see their outlet. I don’t really trust them to honor their word, but then I like ice cream… and so I’m thinking, “If he doesn’t remember, I’ll pay. Who cares.”
I walk in and ask for the guy by his name, and lo and behold, not only does he show up to honor his word… he actually remembers my name. I mean… come on! Who does that?
He walks up to me with a big smile on his face and shakes my hand firmly, and says to me, “Mr. Behl, I am so glad you decided to come down. I have been worried you would have forgotten about us. In fact, I would have come up to your place personally to invite you once again. How are you, sir?”
I couldn’t have cared less if the ice cream was average or good. Of course it would have hurt them if the ice cream were bad. But it wasn’t. It turns out to be, not the best I have ever had, but a close second. Case closed.
There are fewer ways positioning for client acquisition can be done better in business.
All they have to do now is to maintain consistency in their behavior. As long as nothing worsens, they have me for life… or at least as long as I can drive to an outlet within a few minutes.
Last I heard, the little ice cream joint already has seven branches throughout the city, and the company is rapidly expanding.
The backbone of any business is a system that works hard – very hard – to acquire clients like me.
Look at the amount of effort this company was willing to put in just to get me in their door. They weren’t just investing financial resources, they were investing attention, energy and time into it. They wanted me to try out their ice cream, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get me in.
Now, how much did I spend on that first visit? Nothing. It was free.
Was it worth it?
You tell me.
Over the last six months, I have gone there at least once a week on an average, and spent at east $30 on each transaction, on an average. That’s over seven hundred dollars in revenues for the company.
As I put these numbers on paper, I feel slightly embarrassed at how much money I have spent on ice cream.
It’s just ice cream. Or is it?
Was I paying $15 for a cup just because it is better looking, better tasting ice cream? Or was it something else?
Was it the personalized attention they paid me, and continue to pay me? Is it the few times they offer something complimentary for me? Is it the free cute little toy they gifted my six-year-old cousin when I took her there? Is it because they never mention my dates to my clients, or to other girls? Is it because I am respected enough to not to have to stand in a line to basically buy ice cream? Is it because even when they pack it for you to take home, they don’t just lump it in a big box… they put it in cups, and pack those cups into a box, so that you don’t have to serve?
I am sure it is a combination of all these things. Positioning For Client Acquisition often is about stacking many things together.
There is nothing I can think of that they can do to make it a better experience for me as a client.
And that is why they have gotten seven hundred dollars out of my pocket over the last six months. Selling just ice cream.
Could they have gone to as great lengths as they did to acquire clients, had they not been charging so much? No way!
The economics wouldn’t have worked out at all.
In order to be able to – firstly – acquire the best clients for your company, and – secondly – serve them extremely well, you must charge higher prices. There is no question about it. There is no other way to do it.
If you are in a business where you don’t control the prices yourself, and are governed by an external agency, such as government, or corporate headquarters, then perhaps you shouldn’t be in that business.
We have already seen how spending more money and energy to acquire the right clients can mean higher profitability for your business.
Now let’s see how that helps you grow faster.
If you charge a hundred dollars for your product or service, and it costs you fifty dollars to serve the client, then essentially you have fifty dollars to pay your employees, acquire the clients, pay yourself, pay your taxes and take care of emergencies.
You’d be more likely to behave miserly with employees, driving away the really talented people.
You would try to cut costs on serving the client, inevitably degrading your clients’ experience sooner or later. Consequently, you would yourself make it easier for them to go over to a competitor.
You would constantly have to worry about not having enough funds to take care of the next emergency… and that stress would sap away your creative energy.
Your own financial situation wouldn’t look too good.
And most importantly, what would you have left over for acquiring a new client? Ten dollars? Twenty? That’s it. And that’s perhaps the best-case scenario.
It would be easy for a large chain to just eat your lunch and force you to declare bankruptcy within months… because they could easily provide a better experience at lower costs. The economies of scale would be working in their favor.
Firstly, I could easily spend a hundred dollars, or even a hundred and fifty dollars to serve my clients. Do you think that would enhance their experience with me? Absolutely! I could do so much more to enhance their experience that they would start despising the experience they have to have with you, or with other sellers who’d compete with me.
Secondly, I would be weeding out the price conscious buyers. People who must necessarily buy the lowest price option out there, simply because they can’t afford anything better.
Thirdly, I would be attracting, just by pricing high, an audience of clients who like to spend money. People who like to pay a premium to get premium service. It doesn’t take a lot of skill to sell more products or services to such a hungry audience.
It’s not rocket science. Everyone LIKES spending money. But only affluent people can actually AFFORD to spend money.
Pricing high is in and of itself a great strategy for positioning for client acquisition, especially if you want top class clients.
Fourthly, even if I spent a hundred and fifty dollars to serve my clients, I would be left with another hundred and fifty for other things.
I could simply devote seventy-five dollars to acquisition of new clients. Compare that to the twenty you could devote, in your best-case scenario. Do you think I would have greater reach and influence in the marketplace? Of course I would.
It would also be easy for me to acquire top talent, since I could offer them perks and packages you could never afford to offer them. These men and women would make it easy for me to grow my business rapidly, and to serve my clients better. My company would be comprised entirely of rock stars.
I would have a decent fund being built up for emergencies, and I would certainly take home a lot more than you would.
Without the financial stress, and with help of talented team members, I could get really creative with every aspect of my business. On top of that, I would have more money to acquire clients with.
So unless the economies of scale are working in your favor, and you can serve a mass market on a statewide, nationwide or a worldwide scale… it is absolutely foolish to try to cut prices.
The only choice you have as a small or medium sized business is differentiating yourself from your competitors, charging way more than them, and then having a huge impact on your clients’ experiences.
Of course if you charge three times as much for a similar, or worse – a worse experience than your low-price competitor, you’d be out of business sooner than the aforementioned competitor. You necessarily have to create a supreme experience for the client. But once you engineer that kind of a desirable, seductive, attractive experience, charge as much as the market will pay.
When I started out as a consultant, I used to charge my clients $300 a month. Today I charge more fifteen times that amount. At $300 a month, I needed at least ten clients to survive. At $4500 (and increasing) I don’t take on more than six under any circumstances.
Which means I can focus on growing their businesses with a much more relaxed state of mind. I have time to give them. I have attention to give to their businesses. I can sit and strategize for them on a monthly basis. I can monitor their campaigns myself actively – be it a tiny $200 a day campaign, or a giant $30,000 a day campaign.
And every market is more flexible about pricing than you can imagine.
That’s how business is grown rapidly.
And again, what is the backbone of such a business?
For instance, I know for a fact that I can spend ten thousand dollars today, and within a month I will have four more clients. It’s just basic numbers. I am probably the most expensive business growth strategist in the world, and I command a very high fee. Yet, I can acquire any number of clients at twenty five hundred dollars apiece.
Now, I am booked out for 2015, and I won’t be accepting any new clients till 2016 – which may or may not happen, since I might end up keeping all six of my clients through 2016 as well. I only work with six clients, or fewer, at a time, and consequently, what we have here is a system that works extremely well.
But even if I didn’t have a waiting list of prospective clients, and even if two of my clients dropped out tomorrow for some reason, or if I had to kick them out for some reason, I could easily go out and get new clients by spending some money.
The question, then, that you need to ponder over is this –
Do you know how much it takes to get a new client today? Or within a week, or a month, or a quarter?
Do you know how long it takes to get a client?
Do you have a system to get clients predictably?
And finally, are you providing the most premium option of products or services in your marketplace?
If your answer to even one of these four questions is NO, then your business needs strategic realignment.
If your answer was NO to any one or more of these questions, then I can predict… That you feel uncertain about your company’s, and maybe even your own financial future. That you feel like something is missing. That you experience significant stress in running your company, and trying to grow it.
Very recently I had a conversation with a business owner who said, “it’s like surviving the jungle when you are a gazelle. There are dangers everywhere, and everyday is a struggle for survival.”
When I asked him how his business was different fro all other competitors, he told me that USP’s don’t work in his industry, since his business was different. That I wouldn’t understand.
As soon as someone tells me their industry is different, or their business is different, I just give up. It’s just not worth my time to explain to them why it’s not. I see that line of reasoning as a justification and an excuse, and I really do not have time to deal with excuse-makers and backward rationalizers.
I would much rather talk to and help someone who accepts that there is a need for help.
Nevertheless, I hope you yourself are not falling into the trap of thinking “My business is different.” In virtually all cases, it’s not. You need to differentiate, and you need to communicate those points of differentiation to your audience.
And if your audience comprises significantly of price sensitive buyers, then you need to change that. Otherwise, you’d better be a global sourcing corporate giant, or you WILL be out of business soon enough.
Look for the best buyers, and charge more. Significantly more. Also provide a significantly better experience.
Of course the number of sales you get will be smaller, but the number of dollars you make will be larger. But more importantly, the kind of people you will end up working with will be better.
And most importantly, you will grow your company faster. Much faster. Because you will have a stronger marketing message for your audience. Secondly because you will have more money to communicate with them. And finally because your own clients will be raving fans who will do a lot of the heavy-lifting for you by bringing in new clients for you – day in and day out.
P.S. If you have just skimmed to the end… or just skipped to it, then consider this.
As a small or medium business owner… there have never been more options, ways or media to acquire clients and grow your company – ever! Yet, it has never been more difficult to acquire clients in the history of mankind.
This issue of The Behl Newsletter clarifies why it has become so much more difficult to acquire new clients today. And how to make it simply much more rewarding and faster than it ever was to grow your company using the very reasons that make it impossible for most companies to grow rapidly.