At a certain point in self-employment, one can experience a dip in clients – it may only be temporary, or if you don’t have a long-term gardening program (planting marketing seeds), then it’s more serious. What I learned in small business class is that without marketing, businesses will lose on average 19% of their customers per year!
You only needs a few active clients – for me I feel safer with 6-7, in different industries, that way if one industry suffers then there’s backup.
If you’re getting back into marketing for your own business, or if you’ve been a lucky duck and haven’t had to do it for a while, it can make you feel shy or like you’re bothering people. So that attitude isn’t going to work. Here’s one that might help.
In a Parade article a few weeks ago, George Clooney said everything changed for him when he stopped thinking “I hope they like me” and started thinking “I’m the answer to your problem” when he went in for auditions. Here’s the actual quote:
Parade: “You’ve talked about how lucky you are. What have you learned from your failures?”
GC: “It’s hard when you get thumped. I’ve been proficient at failure. But the only thing you can do is say, “Here’s what I won’t do next time.” I was a baseball player in school. I had a good arm, I could catch anything, but I was having trouble hitting. I would be like, “I wonder if I’ll hit it; just let me hit the ball.” And then I went away for the fall, learned how to hit, and by my sophomore year I’d come to the plate and think, “I wonder where I want to hit the ball, to the left or right?” Just that little bit of skill and confidence changed everything. Well, I had to treat acting like that. I had to stop going to auditions thinking, “Oh, I hope they like me.” I had to go in thinking I was the answer to their problem. You could feel the difference in the room immediately. The greatest lesson I learned was that sometimes you have to fake it. And you have to be willing to fail.“
That really hit home for me – I’ve been focusing on that “I’m the answer to your problem” (and also where do I want to be the answer to what and who’s problem), and it’s helped. I also can see more clearly when I encounter a problem that I’m not the best person for…and then I can refer the client to someone else (so I’m still providing a service). When I do see something that I want, I”m going in with that attitude of being the best able to solve their problem. I’m finding I have more energy and passion and go after it more.
I’ve also been noticing what doesn’t work and stopping that – since it’s not, why bother? – and focusing on what will work. And knowing the difference between what isn’t working in the short term vs marketing (which can takes time to pay off).
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