Adam asks: I own a new video production company- how can I get new clients? We have SD + HD cameras, Final Cut pro editing systems, a great reel and resources- but no clients. How should we go about getting our first clients in the door?

Answer: Looks like you fell into the trap of “Buy the equipment and they will come” syndrome.

Many freelance media professionals or small video business owners, like yourself, love their work, believe in the need for their product or service, and are strongly motivated to be self-employed. But a few months down the road they run into problems because they have never learned the essential skills they need to find clients. This can be a rude awakening!

Statistics suggest that only 1 out of 5 of you make it to their first year anniversary! Fortunately, marketing and sales is not rocket science.

Here are a 6 tips to start finding clients easier!

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1. CREATE A STRATEGIC PLAN: Useful is better than elaborate. Your strategic plan should include your goals for the next month, six months and 12 months. You should also clearly define what you are selling and your pricing. Finally, you should spend some time really thinking about your ideal target clients and why they (hopefully, desperately!) need your product or service. People with strong feelings about a problem or challenge make the best target clients.

2. BUSINESS COMMUNICATION: Ideally, you should be ready to talk about your business in any situation that comes up! Think: Anyone, Anywhere, Any Time! The best communication about your business has three simple components. (1) It tells people your name and company name (that’s the easiest part!). (2) It gives them a brief description of your business in plain and simple English. No buzz words or jargon. No complicated explanations. Any person on the street can understand immediately what you do. (3) It paints a picture of your target clients and the reasons they purchase from you. We human beings are hardwired to listen to stories. Tell quick, vivid story about who needs your product or service and why.

3. MARKETING: Your business needs three to five marketing strategies that get you in front of your target clients and people who will refer them to you. Once you have chosen good strategies you need to work them consistently over time. You have to be smart about what marketing strategies you choose. Ask yourself: Does this strategy connect me with the right people? Does it bring in business quickly? How expensive is it? Will I be present or absent when this marketing strategy touches my target clients? You have to understand that marketing is often more like gardening than hunting and that it takes time to cultivate relationships with your target clients. And one final tip: Yes, do the strategies everyone else in your industry does (there is probably a good reason these are common strategies for your business) but also look for and be open to doing marketing-outside-of-the-box!

4. SALES: Sales does not come naturally to most small business owners. If you haven’t taken any sales training, my number one tip is to do so. Secondly, understand that you don’t have to be a flaming extrovert to do sales well – but you do have to have a structure you can depend on in a sales conversation and know how to be a professional. Thirdly, you have to be the one who is comfortable talking about money in a sales conversation. Is you are not comfortable, you will trigger money issues in your potential clients. Fourth, It is more important to ask good questions and get your potential client to tell you why they need your product or service than to bombard them with facts, features, and benefits. Fifth and last, sales gets complicated because both the seller and the potential client often have strong feelings about selling and being sold to. This is why it is really important, if you are uncomfortable with sales, to find a business skills trainer who can help you over time. It takes time and practice to learn how to do sales well. It is difficult to learn how to do sales from a book.

5. ORGANIZATION AND TIME MANAGEMENT: There is so much to do when you are running your own business that it is really important that you create a structure and a schedule so you can get everything you need to do done. A part of organization includes developing a really good contact management system so that you will be able to keep track of all the potential clients and contacts you make when you are out marketing. Especially as you start becoming more successful, you will need to always set aside time to do your marketing, even if you are really busy otherwise with clients.

6. WORKING WITH YOURSELF: Many small business owners find they love certain parts of their business and don’t like others. Sadly, if marketing and sales happens to be one of your aversions your business is not going to thrive no matter how good you are at what you do or how wonderful is your product. Here is an important thing to understand: You CAN change your mind about what you dislike. It is a good idea to cultivate the attitude: If I have to do it, I’m going to find a way to enjoy it! Work consistently at changing any beliefs, attitudes, or habits that hold you back from being successful.

Again, a consultant or coach can be really helpful at moving you forward more quickly because we often have blind spots about the things that hold us back the most. By taking a “How do you eat an elephant? – One bite at a time” approach you can change pretty much anything that keeps you from being successful!

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