“Adrienne gave me wonderfully fresh ideas for marketing my business at a big conference last Fall. They worked! I got two big clients from it!”

Janell Osborn White Space Graphics,LLC



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A couple of years ago, I was working with a couple on the East Coast in the remodeling business.  

The husband generated a fair amount of business with several sub-contractors, and the wife was in charge of the marketing.

Everything was fine for a year or so, but then the wife started to become distracted by myriad family situations that required her attention.

When we spoke, she complained that she really didn’t like working for or with her husband.  The job was uninspiring, and there were other things she’d much rather do.  She would agree to handle the assignments we discussed and then cancel several appointments, because she “hadn’t done her homework.”  In the meantime, the husband was working his head off, trying to satisfy his clients and compensate for what she was ignoring.

Finally, after several attempts at scheduling yet another meeting, she simply didn’t respond either to my phone calls or emails; and that was the end of that.

As a marketing consultant and speaker to small and growing businesses for more than 38 years, I’ve seen a fair amount of unhappy couples.  The husband is disappointed, because he depends upon his wife for the marketing or bookkeeping; the wife is resentful, because she wants to be free to do something else.  In many of these cases, the wife has been expected to work for no salary, because “the business benefits the entire family.”

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A few of those in my client base have timing issues.

Here’s what I mean.  

A client or prospect calls about getting remodeling work done.  Or it could be research, a survey, a website, market planning, public relations, social media assistance, whatever.

The caller asks when they can meet, and my client, afraid to keep this person waiting,  sets a time the next day.

Of course, this upsets all of the plans my client had for the following day.  Then my clients stress themselves out and lose sleep over all the work they have to do.  How will they ever get it done?

I ask them, “Who says you have to meet within 24 hours?” and that stops them in their tracks.  I question, “Do you really believe that people are so impatient and inconsiderate that they can’t wait an extra day or two?  All of us are on crazy schedules.  People have become increasingly understanding.”

Moreover, the person who actually demands an almost immediate meeting is showing the marks very early on of a potential client from you-know-where.

Just as important as knowing who your clients are is knowing who they aren’t.  At the first signs of impatience or lack of respect for what you do and how long your processes take, you should be backing out gently and quickly.

Of course, people who are desperate take anyone on and fervently pray that the attitude will change, but it doesn’t work that way.  Early signs are significant in revealing what the business relationship portends.

So, let’s try to change that mindset that makes you jump at anyone’s show of interest.  

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Have you ever considered that prospecting and servicing clients are very similar to a courtship and honeymoon?

During the “courtship,” everything is hunky-dory.  Lots of smiles, returned phone calls, emails and texts.

There’s something else, however: there’s the rose-colored assumption that you’ll be able to change a few undesirable qualities of the prospect, once he or she becomes a client.

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You get off the phone and remark to the people around you, “If I could only lose this client by attrition, I’d be a happy camper.  He’s driving me crazy.”

The next day you get off the phone and remark to the same people, “If I had ten more clients like her, I’d be in seventh heaven.”

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Yesterday I met with a prospect who’s starting a new business.  He’d done some serious thinking about what he wanted to do, but there were some flaws.

He told me that he’d been attending seminars and reading every business book he could get his hands on.  The more he spoke, the clearer it became that he was the recipient of too much information.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Research is commendable, and I applaud those conscientious enough to learn as much as they can before embarking on a new venture.

That said, it’s possible to hear and read so much wisdom that you don’t know where to  begin.  And that’s where this gentleman was in his start-up.

He had a demographic market in mind, but it was far too broad.  He really needed to define and prioritize his markets.  Moreover, the more narrowly he defined his markets, the more effectively he would be able to target those markets.

Let me explain.  

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