When Referrals Aren't Enough....


Does this sound like you?


You run a business/are a senior leader of a business.

You’ve done well with referrals and repeat work with a great group of clients.

But client buying behavior has changed, and

you’ve exhausted your network.

You need more ways to grow the business.

Now what?


In my mind, it always comes back to defining a clear strategy for growth. There are a number of factors in developing a strategy, such as:

  • Define your ideal client

  • Understand your ideal client's pain points

  • Define a solution that speaks to your ideal client's pain points

  • Identify why your solution is different from competitors

  • Talk to ideal clients as often as you can


Let's start with defining your ideal client. Think about these key factors:

• Who is your ideal client?

• What is the problem they need your help to solve?

• What drives them to buy what you offer?


Here’s a subset of the questions I ask my clients about their ideal clients:

  • What industry is your ideal client in?

  • How much revenue does your ideal client’s company make?

  • Where is your ideal client located in the world?

  • Why do they buy? Is there a pain point you can identify?

  • When and how do they buy?

  • What makes them feel good about buying?

  • Are there places (physical or virtual) that you and your ideal client intersect? Professional associations? Conferences? Groups?


Think about 1 - 3 ideal clients that you’ve worked with in the past and create a buyer persona – a very detailed representation of your ideal client based on market research and real data about your existing clients, considering customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. Why? To help you understand their pain points, issues they face in their roles, and how you can provide a solution that helps them reach their goals.


Create a list of 50 – 100 ideal clients. Find out if you know anyone at these organizations directly, or have second level connections who could introduce you. Think about additional strategies to interact with your ideal client.

• Introductions from people in your network

• Networking events

• One-on-one meetings

• Conferences, workshops, events

• Professional associations


One strategy that has worked well for many is to join a professional organization in your industry. Just joining the organization typically isn’t enough, volunteer for a subcommittee or task force. Working closely with other members gives you the chance to connect and establish a relationship.


One important point – a mentor told me once that you get the most value by being the only one in the room that does what you do. A marketer in a roomful of marketers may create a strong sense of camaraderie, but may not get you new business. A marketer in a roomful of entrepreneurs might get you that business! It can be uncomfortable to be in a roomful of strangers, but over time, they won’t be strangers anymore!


Identifying and networking with ideal clients is a great way to start building a relationship, which to me is the ultimate goal. Relationship marketing is extremely effective and long term. It doesn't happen overnight but over time.


Thinking about your ideal client starts you on the path to developing a growth strategy. Next up is working on your differentiators to highlight your unique solution.



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