Isn’t it amazing how being “busy” has become almost a mystique? The assumption is that if you aren’t busy all the time, you aren’t important enough, or working hard enough. So we hang this badge of honor around our necks like a yoke and tell ourselves we are really going places.
While there has been some pushback against the mystique of busyness, this still seems to be the dominant perception in business, and it can almost be perceived as needy to be actively seeking new clients. Yet, I know very few business owners who have the luxury of a list of people waiting to start working with them and are, therefore, not always on the lookout for new clients. Yet, for most of us, it is essential to always be seeking out new clients to keep that sales funnel full. So how do we communicate capacity while retaining our dignity?
1. Create original, meaty content about what you do.
One way to signal that you are open to taking on new business is something we do with every blog and newsletter we create: we describe what we do and put it in the context of services a client might need. With the wealth of information available online, you can assume that potential clients will do some research into you and your business before even reaching out. Therefore, they must find content that positions you as an expert and differentiates you from your competition.
Starting a blog is an easy marketing tool that every business owner has access to. If you have a website, it’s as simple as adding a blog page and creating your first post. Then share the post to your go-to social media platforms to reach a wider audience. What if you don’t have the time to write a blog post every week? It might be worth investing in a good marketing team that can provide ongoing marketing support. A good team will help you think through strategy, work with you to come up with topics, and provide ghostwritten content.
2. Looking for something a bit bolder? Be direct.
There’s no shame in sending a humorous, well-written email letting your subscribers know that you are accepting new clients. Or if this just makes you feel too desperate, another tactic could be to ask happy current customers to introduce you to others. If you have someone specific in mind, say so. Before you send off that email, though, ask yourself why you’re going after this person. In my experience, if I draft an email that doesn’t “feel right,” I hold off on sending it until I’ve tried drafting it a few other ways. Then, when I circle back to why I’m doing what I’m doing, the words come more easily.
At Spring Insight, for example, to communicate capacity for our website creation services, we might send an email with the subject line: “Looking for a few great clients.” You can, of course, be selective about who receives the email. It takes time but going through your list of contacts to find a customized list of people who would be most interested in your program or service is a solid plan. Of course, the narrower your list of recipients, the more you can really tailor your message to tap into their needs and expertly frame the ask.
3. Something in between? Send an email to a particular list of potential clients.
It is a great idea to keep a “nurture” list of those you want to keep in touch with and gently remind them that you are available. This list would have potential clients you have had conversations with or who have taken you up on a free consult or another free offer.
Ideally, you can set up a customer relationship management system (CRM), a handy tool to keep track of information about your potential clients, clients, and contacts in one secure central place. But keep in mind that a CRM is only a tool. You still have to work to build relationships. For example, if you keep good notes about each of your potential clients, you’ll be able to send a well-worded email at just the right time. Or, when you come across a resource that would be helpful for one of your ‘seedlings,’ send it their way, letting them know that they are on your radar. You can even set up a Feedly account for each potential client to alert you to additional resources.
4. Communicate capacity on social media.
I always chuckle when I hear business owners suggest that social media doesn’t work for them or their business. In the same way that ‘old-fashioned’ networking events don’t work for you if you try to awkwardly blend in with the walls and only speak to people you know, social media won’t do much for you if you just stand on the virtual sidelines.
What works is engaging with others online and communicating what you know in a thoughtful, relatable way. It might seem intimidating at first, but once you dive in, you’ll find that it’s not so scary. First, figure out what social media platform your potential clients prefer if you don’t know already. Then make yourself a visible presence in these spaces. Let others see you as an expert, and before long, they will start seeking out your expertise.
One last thought before I head off to send my email: while you might think it’s obvious that you are open to receiving new clients, keep in mind that you may be inadvertently sending signals that you are at capacity, especially if you’re very good at keeping up the “mystique” of busyness. It might never have occurred to you to actually tell people that you are open to more business.
These four low-key ways to say that you’re open to more business are a good start. Before you know it, you’ll have a list of people waiting to work with you, and you’ll no longer have the luxury of feeling needy. Yes, you’ll be busy, but you’ll also totally be in control.
What strategies have worked to help you attract new clients?