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I talk a lot about prospecting. In fact, most of my podcast episodes and articles about landing clients are focused mainly on prospecting.
But sometimes I fear that this focus on landing work today takes the focus away from an incredibly important aspect of marketing your business: attraction marketing.
Attraction marketing = getting prospects to come to you.
Let’s talk about the dynamics of each.
Pros of attraction marketing:
- Prospects come to you
- By requesting info or downloading something from you, prospects self-qualify.
- In some professions, it’s really the only viable way to market your services. For example, high-end book ghostwriters and business or writing coaches have to rely almost exclusively on attraction marketing. Prospecting is not a good option.
- You’re in a position of strength because they came to YOU.
- You end up with a larger pool of prospects to work with over time.
- You can turn it into a “machine” that works for you day and night.
Cons of attraction marketing:
- You don’t have total control over who responds.
- Most leads won’t be ready now, so you have to follow up and stay on their radar over a long period of time.
To do it right, you should set up some marketing automation and deploy some smart strategy. That takes time and resources.
Pros of prospecting:
- You can target very specific prospects you personally handpick.
- You can dial it up or down based on your workload and pipeline health.
Cons of prospecting:
- Takes time, discipline and courage.
- The prospect is in the position of strength, because you’re the one pursuing
You need a mix of both. You need a “lead generation machine” that delivers a steady stream of prospects. That way you can end up with a larger pool of potential clients you can follow up with over time to turn into clients.
And you need a targeted outreach effort that enables you to hand-select prospects and dial things up or down based on your current or expected situation.
The Dynamics of Prospect “Readiness”
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of any kind of marketing (prospecting AND client attraction) is that most prospects aren’t ready to hire you today.
In other words, if you take a bundle of, say, 100 prospects, only a handful are ready to discuss actual work with you.
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
Well, you’re not alone. Everyone struggles to find prospects who are ready and willing to engage.
And that’s not just in the world of creative services. It’s also true in virtually every B2B market. From medical devices to software, manufacturing, consulting and advisory services, heavy equipment.
We talked about this recently, when I explained the importance of nurturing your not-yet-ready leads over a period of months or even years.
The point is that when you’re marketing a “considered purchase,” only a certain percentage of the target market is actively looking for what you sell.
Vorsight: According to research by business development agency Vorsight, only 3% of qualified prospects are actively searching for someone who provides your services.
What about the other 97%?
Forty percent will probably have a need for your services sometime in the next few months. These are your not-yet-ready (NYR) prospects.
And the rest—a whopping 57% of them—won’t be looking anytime soon!
Cahners: An in-depth study by Cahners Business Information of more than 40,000 inquiries generated by ads and press releases uncovered the following pattern:
- 11% purchased within 3 months of inquiring (not far off from the 3 percent “ready now”)
- 17% purchased within 4-6 months.
- 25% percent purchased within 7-12 months.
- 47% percent took more than a year to buy.
Inquiry Handling Service: A lead conversion study that was done by a service that handles millions of inquiries across all different kinds of industries.
They found that 50% of people who inquired about a product or service bought that product or service within 18 months of inquiring about it.
But only 15% bought within 90 days of inquiring.
That means that 85% of the value of a group of leads today is in the period of time that starts 90 days from now—not anytime sooner.
Marketing Donut: Finally, there’s more recent data on this. Marketing Donut found that 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months. And 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.
It’s a Long Game
The point of all this? Most prospects, regardless of the industry or what they buy, are NOT ready to buy today!
In other words, you have to treat any kind of marketing (both prospecting and lead generation) as a long game.
Because it takes a lot of time, effort, energy and resources to generate a bundle of leads. And if all you’re focused on is who is ready NOW, you’re spending a ton of time and resources on just a handful of “ready now” leads.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s just take a rough average of the studies I’ve talked about here: 3%, 11% and 15%. So let’s say we’re roughly talking about 10% who are ready now.
Your job is to start a conversation with those who ARE ready now (the 10%). And then stay in touch with the other 90%, until those who will eventually buy will identify themselves.
And the most efficient way to kick-start this process is by deploying a methodical client attraction strategy. One where you leave a series of breadcrumb trails that lead the right kind of prospects to your website … and gets as many of them as possible to identify themselves.
Breadcrumb trails lead the right kind of prospects to your website, where they can then identify themselves. Examples of good breadcrumb trails include:
- Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
- Your own blog
- Guest posting
- LinkedIn Publisher
- Guest podcasting
- Speaking/participating in panel discussions
- Smart networking/business cards
Lead people to a page on your site where they can download a relevant and useful piece of content in exchange for giving you their name and email.
That piece of content is often called a lead magnet or buzz piece. It accomplishes a number of things:
- It gives the prospect something of value.
- By requesting the lead magnet, they’ve essentially raised their hand (identified themselves).
- You now have their contact information so you can follow up.
- It enables you to showcase your knowledge and expertise, which is the seed of building trust with that prospect.
Here’s a hypothetical (but very realistic) comparison to give you a very general idea of the power of playing the long game:
Again, attraction marketing gives you a bigger pool of prospects to work with. And it gives you an opportunity to build trust and credibility with them until they’re ready to engage with you.
I can’t overemphasize that point. Having a bigger pool of prospects to work with. And not just prospects but actual leads, because they’ve actually raised their hands and indicated direct or indirect interest in your services. This is one of the best ways to maximize the return on investment on your marketing efforts.
Not only that, but take another look at the first line—the “effort” row. In the “attract via a lead magnet” column, we’re talking about 100 visitors you’ve attracted to your lead magnet offer page. The same row in the “Prospecting” column shows that you’ve “knocked on” 100 doors.
Your Goal: Get Them to Raise Their Hand
Which one took more effort? Driving 100 visitors to a page organically is a heck of a lot easier than knocking on 100 individual doors, isn’t it?
It makes sense to have some kind of lead magnet strategy in place. But most freelancers don’t do this because they don’t have a system in place to make it happen—or the simple marketing automation to enable it.
The heaviest lifting of this whole process is getting someone to raise their hand. Which in this scenario means getting them to request your lead magnet. From there, it’s easier to get them to start a conversation and eventually buy.
Prospecting is great. And it’s an essential strategy for most freelancers. But without an attraction marketing strategy in place, you’re missing out on a proven and systematic way to generate quality prospects—one that can work for you 24/7 … and help position you as the obvious choice.
As simple as it sounds, this process I just described has many moving parts. So many, in fact, that solo professionals will often avoid the whole thing… or they’ll give up halfway through building it.
One of the things my team and I have had to get really good at doing over the past five years is designing and deploying these systems. As a business coach and trainer, prospecting for clients is not really an option. It doesn’t work well for the services I provide. So my team and I rely 100% on attraction marketing.
And that got me thinking. We’ve developed this attraction marketing competency in house. As a team, we’re excellent at it. Why not offer this expertise to my tribe? Why not help some folks design and fully deploy their own “lead generation machine”? That way, they can focus on what they do best… and allow us to take on the pieces of the process that cause so much heartache and procrastination for most.
So that’s what we’re doing. I’m looking for a few established writers, copywriters and marketing professionals who see the value in having a powerful attraction marketing system in place … and who would rather let someone else do it for them.
Someone who already has this skillset and has a proven track record deploying these systems.
This is an experiment. I’m looking to try this out with a few people. And I’m specifically looking to create some exciting success stories we can all brag about. That way, if I offer this again, we’ll have some awesome case studies to showcase.
If this sounds interesting, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org … put LEADS in the subject line … and I’ll reply with all the details.