At a recent meeting of independent consultants the topic of the day was getting clients online. Everyone agreed that attracting prospective clients to their website or business blog was essential. But most people didn’t know how to do it.
Since I work with service professionals who want to attract more prospective clients online, I had a few suggestions to make. Here’s my list of the:
7 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When You Want to Attract Prospective Clients Online
Outbound marketing “pushes” information or sales pitches to prospective customers. It includes direct mail, cold calling, and other one-way communications. It’s inefficient and costly. And it makes people think of you as a pest. Focus instead on creating value for the people you serve by posting client-friendly content…which they seek.
Inbound marketing is the practice of drawing new clients to your website by providing valuable content. It positions you as a thought leader and a resource. Learn how to create problem solving content and to make it easy to find on your business blog or website.
To market yourself online you have to create a conversation. Post website or business blog articles that visitors can comment on. Or, ask insightful questions in an article to start a conversation.
Make regular online contributions. Be generous with your ideas and comments. If your clients use LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers, participate there. Identify industry specific sites your target market visits and regularly contribute to those. Here’s just one of the LinkedIn Answers sections for business operations. Many other categories exist.
In Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn founder) and Ben Casnocha’s book, The Start-up of You, they recommend that you post one article each week to your LinkedIn connections. They note that sharing interesting information with your network increases the chances of others sending you valuable information.
You build credibility on the Internet with your content. A strategic planning consultant I know attracts more clients through his website than through his in-person networking. It’s because he updates his website with new how-to articles regularly.
To test your online credibility, Google your name and your subject area. Study the websites and kinds of content it displays. And know that business buyers search the Internet to see who has the most helpful online content. It’s hard to beat using a well-maintained business blog to build your online credibility.
What topics are your competitors discussing online? What new websites do your clients turn to for answers? Set up Google Alerts and monitor the main topics and industry keywords in your subject area. These Alerts will keep you aware of new developments and issues your clients are facing, new publications, and problems highlighted by thought leaders. Monitor the names of your current and prospective clients.
Busy executives looking for answers to problems will click away rapidly from your website if your content doesn’t address their question. Your business blog shares timely information and demonstrates your expertise. Keep it up to date with your best ideas and contributions. Stay current with your prospective clients’ problems and goals.
Here’s an example of how one professional shares timely content with her prospective clients. She’s published an important industry calendar on her business blog.