Breakthroughs

It’s so simple that it’s crazy it took you this long to figure it out.

The breakthrough really does come when you’ve stopped looking for it. When you start doing something else. When you follow your nose and just do the thing that makes the most sense at the time.

Something tells me that you need to go through all the pushing and gnashing. Trying to mould what you do into a nice, neat, tidy package that’s valuable, that makes a real difference to your clients. That sense of it being okay but not quite it.

The breakthrough happens when you go from pushing your client through swathes of information to the crystal clear clarity when they reach the same conclusions you do but without the struggle.

Realizing you are finally in a place where you can take your client from point A to point B with ease for both parties.

It all seems so simple now. If only it was.

Why not defining your service process is costing you money

One of the biggest challenges most of my clients deal with day to day is the sense of not having enough time.

Between networking, writing proposals, providing value to their existing clients, administration and invoicing, they’re already into overtime. So when it comes to marketing and business development, it’s hard for them to see where they could possibly carve out the time.

When I bring up standardizing some of their processes to streamline operations, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard any one of the following responses:

“That simply isn’t possible in my business.”

“This is just the way it is in my industry.”

“Every client is different. Every project is unique. There is no way I could shoehorn them into one process.”

I’m not here to tell you that all of your clients are a homogenous mass. I completely agree that every single client you work with will have a unique set of needs, a unique problem for you to solve.

But here’s the thing. As long as you treat every client, every proposal and every project as unique, you will never truly be able to shift away from trading time for money.

You risk being a me-too freelancer forever at the whim of whatever project comes along - changing your process with the wind. To compound your problems, you will eventually be overtaken by those who have a defined offering and are able to get really good at that one thing by doing it over and over again.

So what’s the alternative? I’m so glad you asked!

First, let me say that I don’t recommend refining your service offering until you have taken the time to understand your audiences and their pain points.

For more on this, check out my post: What is an audience persona and why do I need one?

Since you are now starting to get a true sense of what your audience segments are looking for, where the gaps are in the market and what’s stopping them from buying, you can create streamlined service packages that speak to them, address the unmet needs created by other options on the market and eliminate the sense of risk in trying something new.

Creating a set and repeatable service process will also help you realize the benefits of repeating the same process over and over until you can truly say you’re an expert.

Your competitors are not who you think they are

If you search online for how to write a marketing plan, the essential elements of a marketing plan or how to write a business plan online I guarantee, you will always find a section devoted to analyzing your competition.

For brick-and-mortar stores and product manufacturers, it’s super important to know who else is on your street or which brands your product will sit next to on the shelf.

When shopping for a product, a customer can easily compare one list of features to the next. They can line up their options side by side and easily determine which item will best suit their needs.

But when seeking a service provider, things get more fuzzy. Services are based on experiences. It’s difficult for a client to objectively determine (even after they have paid for a service) whether it was the best option for them.

In his book Selling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith says service businesses have three main competitors and if you’re a massage therapist, a financial planner or an architect, two of them are certainly not who you think they are.

When searching for a service provider, clients are deciding between

1. Doing it themselves.

2. Not doing it at all.

3. Others in the same space. 

So when you’re creating your marketing plan, it pays not simply to think about what others are doing, but what barriers you can remove between you and your clients either doing the work themselves or not doing it at all.

You’re selling a relationship, an experience. Not necessarily just features and benefits.

Priming

The thing you have invented - it has to be better than the alternatives, it has to be different, it has to work so well that it turns one customer into two, then four, eight and so on.

But it also has to be packaged in a way that people recognize. That helps them overcome the fear of switching, the cost of making the wrong choice.

Because believing you are better isn’t enough. You also need to communicate why you are better in a way your customers are primed to hear.

The knowledge trap

It’s not usually required that you share everything you know with a client. They don’t need access to every aspect of your expertise to get value from your services.

When we first encounter a client’s problem, it’s so exciting to view it from the perspective of all the things you could do to elevate their situation. If they just get with your program, follow it from start to finish, never skipping a step or going off on tangents, the change could be astronomical.

It’s true that clients may view you as the silver bullet for whatever their situation. They want everything you know. The challenge then is knowing which knowledge they need to know and when they need to know it. And when they don’t respond in predictable ways, knowing how to guide them.

It’s not what you know. it’s knowing what to share and when.