Fire Your New Clients Before You Hire Them
Do you love what you do? Maybe a better question is, did you ever love what you do? It’s a great question really, and one I urge you to ask yourself along with the next person that grumbles about their life. If you’re like me, there was a time early on when I really loved what I did. Internet marketing services is a fast, and always changing profession. In fact I couldn’t wait for each day to begin so I could go out and conquer new mountains. Over time however, this passion for quality consulting seemed to fade and it wasn’t until about a year ago when I met a wonderful couple that this really came to light.
Let me tell you the story…
About a year ago now, I met Brian and Nancy, small business owners that were (and still are) in the pool and spa sales and service vertical. I needed some repairs done to my hot tub and through a referral I found their company (I couldn’t find them online, but the company I did referred them). Brian came out to the house, and got my hot tub up and running in no time (it as in the middle of winter too). During our conversation I discovered that Brian, although an older gentleman and not internet savvy per say (but still very sharp) was trying to market online better than he was at this point, but was struggling. He wanted to be able to update his website himself, but wasn’t sure how to do it or where to begin. Well, functional website design and internet marketing was right up my alley, and so we made a deal for consulting services, to trade his bill (servicing of my hot tub) for a few one on one website training sessions in the evening. To this day, I’m not sure why I did that deal, as it was kind of out of the norm for me to give private lessons, but I just really seemed to connect with him and I wanted to get to know him and what he did a little better.
Over the next week, I went and spent time with him and his wife and taught them how to use WordPress, but during this time I felt like I too was learning, as they told me about their company, their family and their philosophies. It was fascinating to hear how they approached what they did with passion but also with a “this is my way of doing things” attitude. Initially I thought, wow, there is just so much I would recommend they do to improve things. But as each night went on, I realized they were running their company the way they wanted to run it.
Is this how you run your business?
Really that’s why we become entrepreneurs in the first place isn’t it? We have an idea, and we think we can deliver something superior compared to what we see being delivered? I mean, I know there are a lot of reasons to go into business, but certainly a main one is the desire to do something great.
So if improving things meant more customers, but less of the way you envisioned to be great, is this a winning formula? Sometimes in online marketing, we focus on the “more” so much that we forget the why. I know I’m guilty of this myself.
On the last night of their training sessions, we were discussing some funny stories that have occurred with customers. Let me tell you, the pool and spa market, has some funny stories. I realized in this conversation, that they weren’t trying to own the market. In fact, they would turn away new customers if they weren’t just right for them. I listened intently to this attitude, and how it affected them. It’s not so much what they said, as it was how they reacted to what they were saying. I left that night thinking about my internet marketing service clients. I made the decision that night that I was going to test this new theory with some definitive rules.
After all, marketing is all about rules, and testing… why would a major decision be any different?
The Rules to Growing Your Company
1. I was going to take on only a select number of new internet marketing services client projects over a given period of time.
– My thought was that if I took on a more manageable client list size, that I could focus more intently and achieve the results that I would be proud of. Note the theory here was I had to be happy with what I accomplished for the client, not necessarily meet what the client wanted (or so they thought) from me. This led me to my second rule…
2. Interview my clients before engaging in an agreement.
– This meant that I had to be straight with my potential future client. I mean really straight. Tell them what to expect with their internet marketing strategy (knowing I would deliver on it), what not to expect from the consulting relationship (so they don’t expect it), and describing in detail how the relationship would look and work. Here’s the hard part… if there was any inclination, that they weren’t hearing me, or that I didn’t think that we would be a right for each other, then I would turn them away! Essentially fire the client before they become a client.
Furthermore, I had to feel they were going to be hands on (not over our shoulder) but engaging in their future success. It wasn’t hire us, and disappear while we go and do all the work. They knew their company and their market best, and we needed to tap into this regularly. We were to be a part of their team, not outsiders who would succeed or fail by our stand alone actions.
3. Clearly define what I wanted to do. What did I really love about what I did and where could I bring the greatest value?
– Defining what I loved meant really discovering what drove me absolutely nuts as well. In internet marketing services industry that was easy – a client with an internet marketing strategy which I refer to as the “Build it and they will come syndrome”, or the “Hope marketing strategy”. In either case, these strategies would generate inferior results, and leave me feeling like a failure… had to go!
So now that I knew these new ambitious rules, I had to test them to see if I was about to put myself out of the consulting internet marketing services world or I would wake each day loving quality consulting all over again (kind of scary).
The Results Of Turning Away Marketing Clients
One year later, and we’re still here. That’s a good sign. But better than that, I love what I do, I love working with my new clients. I charge more, give more, and they in turn get more. I don’t dread their calls, and in fact I’m anxious to have our follow-up calls. The clients we work with now know we’re a team, a part of their team working on a common internet marketing strategy goal with short-term and long-term plans. They know we’ll disagree and debate their ideas if we think it won’t work. We also know that marketing is about testing, and we do it regardless of whether we think it will work or not. Failures get us closer to home runs, and our clients are right there with us as we are them.
It’s no longer about providing a product or service offering. In fact, we redesigned every marketing and design package we had into one all-encompassing solution. There is only one way we our internet marketing services now and it makes sense for our clients, and it makes sense for us.
We now get consistent referrals, and are growing at a moderate pace. Each week I sit back and evaluate new changes and how they affect the bigger plan of becoming greater than what we are. If the strategy or decision doesn’t resonate with that marketing plan, then we simply turn it down – No matter how good it sounds!
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t easy, and in fact it was down right scary. But the best part, and the reason I’m sharing this with you now, is I love what I do. I want you to love what you do too. And when you do – you’ll realize that you can carry out more than is believed possible, you’ll certainly achieve great results, but mostly you’ll gain massive satisfaction and pride. This lasts far longer than any pay check, any compliment, or any short-term thrill of a new deal.
I believe, at the end of the day, there is always more clients to be had, but just like marketing, and the traffic it brings, quality always outweighs quantity. Tell me if you dare, have you fired your clients before? What were the results?