Frustrated Because You Keep
Getting the Wrong Clients? Five Possible Causes
by Marcia Yudkin
Once upon a time there was a
shopkeeper who sold bicycles. However, everyone
who stepped into the store or called on the
phone was looking for kayaks. As you can
imagine, he felt frustrated. He couldn't figure
out why this kept happening.
You're probably thinking that
there had to be some reason why people kept
approaching this shop expecting to buy kayaks
instead of bicycles. Perhaps a kayak shop used
to be in that location. Perhaps a Yellow Pages
ad mistakenly referenced his shop as selling
I agree with you that there
probably was a logical explanation for the
bicycle/kayak misfire. There probably are good
(though hidden) reasons when something like this
is happening for you, as well. Here are some of
the dynamics I've observed affecting my clients
and colleagues when unsuitable customers keep
showing up and appropriate ones remain nowhere
in sight, or they come by and don't seem to "get
1. You vs. them. It's
easy to forget that you have a different
psychological and motivational profile from
those in your target market. For example, an
adventurous friend of mine leads packaged tours
to spiritual sites in South America and Asia
that he had discovered on his own. Until I
pointed this out, he never realized that those
signing up for his tours would inevitably be
less adventurous than he just by the fact that
they were going with a group.
Accordingly, it was important
for his marketing to discuss how well they'd be
taken care of on his trips instead of making it
seem like they'd be marching off into the great
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2. Old habits. Many
times you grow out of an earlier emphasis
and neglect to update your language and
imagery for your new focus. This happened
with a consultant I know who started off
serving low-budget startups and then shifted
her aim at mid-sized, more established
businesses. "Why is it that online, all I
get are freebie seekers and yet through my
local networking I am easily getting
million-dollar companies as clients?" she
once asked me in frustration. (She would
have preferred not to do the networking.)
When I looked at her home
page, I saw that, like the bicycle shop owner,
she was getting leads from the wrong people
because she was talking about marketing methods
that cost little or nothing. She eliminated the
word "low-cost" from her entire web site and
stated on the top of her home page that she
consulted with owners of businesses with $2
million or up in annual sales. Her problem was
3. A vicious circle.
Someone I know has been working for years to
build her coaching practice, keeping her fees
far lower than her credentials deserve. While
listening to her teleseminars, I was struck by
how often she aimed at creating rapport with her
listeners by recognizing that they are
"struggling." That's exactly why she mainly gets
clients who can't afford higher fees.
Those who are doing well don't
respond to such a pitch. It probably seems
simply a fact to her that "people are struggling
today." However, her attitude and word choices
help create, then reinforce her perception. A
different attitude and word choices would
attract a different clientele.
4. Resentment of reality.
Some highly ethical business owners lament
the mentality of typical clients, feeling that
they often want the wrong things, have
ridiculous expectations or fall too easily for
their competitors' scams. These entrepreneurs
feel hog-tied, unable to voice their true
thinking to customers, not believing that any
honest messages would work. Here you have two
viable options: Either accept the way most
people actually think as your starting point or
go after the few who think differently and get
them excited about your high-minded approach.
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5. Following the crowd.
Many companies and individuals mimic the
marketing they see from others in their
field, without giving thought to whether or
not that fits their offerings and talents.
For instance, one chiropractor used imagery
of a spine in his logo, despite the fact
that he actually spent more time running a
wellness practice than "cracking backs."
Likewise, someone who had just graduated
from a life coaching training program billed
herself as a "life coach," like her
classmates, even though this phrase didn't
capture the fact that she wanted to help
parents of troubled teenagers.
Don't beat yourself up if
you have one of the above blind spots. Ask
for help in diagnosing the reason kayak
seekers keep showing up at your door when
you are selling bicycles - or no one is
coming at all. Change the circumstances
causing the mismatch and enjoy greater
prosperity and satisfaction.
Copyright 2014 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
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