Getting a steady stream of clients is one thing.
Getting your first clients when no one knows who you are and your audience is next to zilch? Yeah, that’s another.
I remember this time, when I was just starting my coaching and consulting business. Even though I had co-founded and built a multimillion dollar marketing firm from the ground up, I hadn’t started from zero in years, and this time I was fully on my own.
So there I was in 2017, new to business coaching, and ready to grow my list of first clients. The trouble was:
- I didn’t have testimonials
- I didn’t have online reviews
- I didn’t have case studies
- I didn’t have an impressive online following…yet
I knew I needed to get creative to reach my audience, so I got started.
That’s Key #1 – Putting the pedal to the metal. Taking actual steps.
Because that’s the difference between a startup idea and a startup business — ACTION.
So many businesses fail before they even get off the ground, because the starting line seems so dang daunting.
Well I challenge you to take steps…right now. There are plenty of things you can start doing today to grow your audience, increase your following, and land your first clients.
Zero doesn’t have to feel scary. And it doesn’t have to feel impossible.
Instead, it can (and should) feel exciting! Especially when you have a list of known steps to take and clear moves to make.
So here it is. Your list of actions you can start taking right away to land your very first clients, even if you’re starting from virtual scratch.
It’s go time!
How To Get Your First Clients
1. Shout It From the Rooftops
Growing your business begins with outreach, online and in-person.
Talk to everyone you know. Announce your new business in conversation, emails, social media posts, etc. Let the world know you’re here and ready to solve their problems!
I know, I know…this part can feel really strange. Especially if you’re just starting out, and you’re not used to tooting your own fabulous horn.
Believe me, I get it. Reaching out feels new. It feels vulnerable.
But you’ll be pleasantly surprised at: a) how effective this can be, and b) how it gets easier over time.
I advocate for keeping it simple, and using a template if it helps keep you on track. Something like:
Hey, I’ve started a new business helping people with _____. If you know of anyone who might benefit from something like that, please feel free to send them my way!
Use all the outlets at your disposal, including Facebook, Linkedin, local networking groups, your email address list, etc.
You never know who your biggest advocates, your greatest sources of leads, or your potential partners might be, unless you make it known you’re here, you’re in business, and you’re ready to solve your clients’ BIG problems.
Find Your Partners & Collaborators
Make a list of potential partners, and begin reaching out and engaging with them online. These can be industry experts, complementary businesses, influencers or networking groups.
Tag team with these partners, and work together to bolster each other’s efforts by sharing information to both of your audiences.
Here are some pairing/partnering examples:
Graphic Designer > Web Designer, Copywriter, Print Shop
App Developer > Coworking Space, Graphic Designer, Industry Magazine
Nutrition Coach > Gym, Farmer’s Market, Personal Trainer
Realtor > Lender, Local Bank, Interior Designer
Wedding Photographer > Flower Shop, Wedding Venue, Hair Stylist
And on and on…partnering with complementary businesses helps you strengthen your brand, and expand your reach to their super-relevant audiences.
Try hosting a co-sponsored event, either virtually or in-the-flesh, to give your target audience a complete look at what they can gain from enlisting each of your services. You might also:
- Co-author an e-book
- Co-create an infographic
- Co-attend a networking event together
- Co-develop a service package
Playing off of each other’s strengths does more than help both of you grow your audiences. It also establishes credibility (“They’re the best in ___________. I’m really fortunate to be here with them today.”), and positions you to offer complete, tag-team services (“She does ________, and then I help with __________.”)
Get Active on Social Media
Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter…all are awesome outlets for connecting with communities interested in what you have to offer.
They’re also inundated with every other business that’s trying to reach their audience on social. Talk about a needle in a haystack.
So my recommendation for standing out from the crowds?
Be your authentic self, and speak to your specific, niche audience. Rather than becoming part of the “noise” online, interact with people who you know can truly benefit from what you have to offer.
Your ideal clients and brand evangelists will follow (literally).
If you’re starting from ground-zero, give some of these community-boosting ideas a try:
- Join Facebook Groups where your audience spends time (take a really deep dive into Facebook Group Marketing here)
- Comment and engage with other like-businesses
- Be a guest on an industry podcast
- Hitch a ride on a partner’s YouTube channel
- Broadcast a Facebook Live session with a special guest
Believe me when I say that getting active on social is a great way to create a community around your brand, and also meet TONS of entrepreneurs like yourself.
In my first year of coaching and consulting, I was able to use the ideas above to grow my page followings into the thousands – on each platform.
These are now people in my circle who regularly give excellent feedback, share and recommend my services, and help me sign new clients on the regular.
Get started by joining my Facebook Group, Business Profit Engine, to dip your group-joining toes in the water!
Optimize Your Website and “Calls to Action”
Do you know there are over 1 billion websites in the world?! And that number grows every second. Kind of mind-numbing, right?
So in order to stand out, you’re going to want to play by the internet’s SEO (search engine optimization) rules.
It is well worth your time to make sure your website is optimized for search engines, with a focus on the specific niche keywords your audience is going to use to find you (think “experienced small dog walker in the bay area”).
Do your research, or hire a team to keep your website up to date.
And once people land on your site, be sure to let them know up front exactly what you’re offering and why you’re the best. Don’t be shy.
Get crystal clear about who you are and what you do. Let them know immediately how you’re going to help them solve their one BIG problem.
Then, make sure your calls to action are front and center. What do you want your website visitors to do? Schedule a call, download your app, make a purchase, join a webinar, visit your location…?
Whatever conversion (visitor action) is most important to you, make it clear and oh-so easy to understand, right on your homepage.
Be THE Expert
To grow your influence and your audience, you want to be known as the “it” person for your specialized services.
What do you do uncommonly well?
Whatever it is, it’s time to write about it. Raise the bar. Up the ante. Answer the questions no one else is able to answer.
When you create content that can’t be found anywhere else, you’re going to rank higher in search engines for those specific queries, and also showcase your expertise in your specific field.
Need some inspiration?
First, find questions people are asking your competitors. Browse their social media pages, or look over comments on their blog articles. Do they want how-to’s, guides, reviews, cost comparisons, etc.?
You can also use this WAY cool tool, Answer the Public, for finding questions related to your topics.
For instance, type in “health coach” and you’ll find:
- What does a health coach cost?
- Can a health coach give nutrition advice?
- Is health coaching covered by insurance?
- What is a holistic health coach?
And so on…
I also encourage you to create your own Ultimate Guide to showcase your talents and expertise.
With an Ultimate Guide, your goal is to deliver so much information on a certain topic, that there’s nothing left for anyone else to say. It establishes you as THE expert, and demonstrates that you have more than enough knowledge to help your audience with their issues/challenges/pain points.
Want some examples? Here are some of mine:
Grow Your Influence & Build Your Following: The Ultimate Influencer Checklist https://wendymaynard.com/become-an-influencer/
The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Visibility https://wendymaynard.com/fblikes/
Go Get ‘Em
Getting your first clients doesn’t have to be rocket science, and it doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars in paid ads, conference fees and more.
What it does take is your initial investment in time, content and action.
Get started now building momentum (and confidence), and in a short while you’ll find your first clients ready and eager to work with you, utilizing your Super Power services.
And if you’re ready to take your efforts a step further, join my FREE Master Class where we talk about all the ways in which you can organize your life and your business to rapidly reach your goals, and free up more time to actually enjoy your new lifestyle as an entrepreneur.