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Less Critiquing, More Listening: How to land small business marketing clients without tearing them apart

Landing new business is a pretty key part of living this iMarketer life. After all, no clients = no work, and no work = no money. But finding the right approach to pitching your small business marketing skills can be tricky.

It’s probably obvious to you how much more vibrant and clear their brand voice could be. Or how a few simple strategies could re-energize a lifeless social media presence. But you’re not looking to tear them down; you want to build them up. It’s entirely possible to pitch the future potential without pointing out all the current mishaps.

Let them talk first

The best way to connect with a prospective client is not by listing all the things you can do for them or all the ways you can improve upon what they’ve already done. It’s by learning more about them and their specific goals.

Let them do the talking while you do the listening. Ask them why they originally started the business and what they envision for the future. Ask them about their customers or how they hope to grow. Ask them who they’ve worked with and what their biggest marketing hurdles have been.

Then, really listen to their answers. If you read between the lines, you’ll start to figure out that they’re pretty happy with the designer they’ve been using but they’ve been writing all the copy themselves and it’s been a drag. Maybe all the nuts and bolts are there but they’ve suddenly realized they haven’t really thought about their long-term goals for a while; their overall strategy could use a refresh. Asking the right questions will guide you toward the best possible pitch for their individual needs.

Protect their time —  and their passions

There’s a reason you work with subcontractors, right? You’re the strategizer, the big-picture-thinker, the one who keeps all the moving pieces flowing in the right direction. Can you write a little copy here and there? Sure you can, and sometimes you do. But most likely, it’s neither your greatest talent nor your deepest passion. Every minute you toil away with word choice is a minute you aren’t managing projects the way you really need — and want — to do.

It’s the same for your small business clients. The more intentional they are with how they’re spending their time, the higher their enjoyment and earning potential will be. If they can make $100 per hour out on the sales floor but instead, they’re spending two hours fiddling around with a flier in Publisher, they’ve just wasted $200 of their time. Meanwhile, you or your subs could have created a more polished flier in less time while your client spent those two hours making money by doing what they do best.

When you put it that way, you’re not judging the salon owner’s lack of marketing prowess; you’re getting her back to styling, which is where she’s most productive, most successful and most happy.

Craving more guidance on finding (and keeping) clients, along with a built-in community of other iMarketers like you who are figuring these things out along the way? That’s what we’re here for!

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