Not more clients, but the right ones

Sharon Tanton

More of the right clients

I’ll let you in on a secret. All this time we’ve been telling you how creating valuable content will win you more clients, but that’s not its real super power. In fact, if you get your content really spot on it may well attract fewer clients. That’s the secret.

Fewer? Yes, but the right ones.  Let me explain.

Valuable content as a filter, not just a magnet

In recent years, content marketing has been seen by many as a fantastic way to get your message out to as many people as possible. Businesses saw viral video as the holy grail of marketing success – your message being seen by millions, without having to pay huge advertising budget prices. Content marketing and social media is stretching the potential reach for your message far beyond what was possible five years ago. Write something now and it could be read all over the world in the next five minutes.

The possibilities are intoxicating, but the trouble is, the world’s got rather drunk on them.

We’re living in an era of information overload, vying for space in jam packed social media platforms, and trying to get noticed amidst the clamouring noise of everybody trying to speak to everybody else. The party’s so crowded these days, you really need to find your people or it becomes a joyless and unrewarding experience.

Social media has changed for us. Twitter has stopped being a place where we seek out conversations with strangers, to somewhere we sneak off to chat in a corner with friends.

Smart businesses are finding ways to cut through the noise too. Selectivity is the order of the day. Forget about getting your message out to the world, instead train a laser sharp focus on the people you really want to connect with. You might say, there’s nothing new in that. But the smartest businesses are setting their sights tighter and sharper then ever before.

It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Two businesses making the focus much tighter

I interviewed the fabulous Doug Kessler at Velocity recently, and his comments underlined this approach. Since Velocity began using a psychographic approach to content (appealing directly to people’s values and opinions, rather than ages and job titles) they’ve attracted the types of people they want to work with, not just any old big B2B businesses who want to do content marketing. They’ve deliberately made their content ambitious, confident and powerful to draw in the kind of confident, ambitious and powerful people that they love to work with. And it does the trick. (More coming soon from Doug. Watch this space.)

Digital marketing guru Chris Brogan’s recent blog The Single Most Effective Change I Made to My Digital Presence struck a similar note.

‘The biggest change I made to my digital presence is that I stopped trying to please everyone and I started serving the very specific community I’ve had the pleasure to serve.”

Making the focus much tighter – Chris is on a mission to find his freaks – has been the single most effective change he’s made.

That’s the way we’re feeling too. In this age of information overload we’re seeking out the people we really click with.

Who we’re focusing on at Valuable Content

Here at Valuable Content we’re not looking for dozens of new clients. Right now, we’re saying ‘no’ more than ‘yes’. We’re after five new clients this year, that’s all.

  • Five fascinating independent businesses looking to disrupt the way things are done.
  • Five passionate business owners who want to change the world a bit (or their part of it.)
  • Five fired up marketing teams who are ready to roll up their sleeves and work with us for the long term to create the best and most compelling content that will drive their business to the next level.

We’re not looking for huge growth, we don’t want to become a content farm – we want to enjoy doing great work with good people. We want to make a difference that matters.

Content-wise, it means we’re writing with very specific people in mind. That’s the advice we’ve always given, but we know them even better now. From their views on W1A (they’d love it BTW) to the filling in their sandwich!

Find your people

Don’t be scared to exclude some people with your content, or your approach. You know that you can’t please all of the people all of the time – but you need the confidence to believe that the right people will like it. Getting it right demands a mix of focus and attitude. A belief in what you’re selling, and a deep understanding of the people you genuinely want to help – get that right, and you can use your content to find the right clients.

This isn’t new – it’s a change in emphasis, not a change in approach. Use your content as a filter, not just a magnet. That’s the real super power of valuable content.

And Happy Easter – we hope you get to enjoy some sunshine and time with the people you love!

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9 Comments

  1. Bravo — the idea that content can and should be a filter is really important but under-discussed.

    It has dramatically changed our business.

    Best of luck with your magic five! If they like this post, they’re your clients.

    Reply
  2. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Doug! Your words inspired this post, and helped crystallise our thinking.

    It’s both liberating and a bit scary to stop being general crowd pleasers, and to aim for the people that are just right for your business.

    Fun though! And I was delighted to be able to fit a bit of Siobhan Sharpe into the post!

    Reply
  3. Great post. Very reassuring for me as I use my blog as therapy and I know a lot of people find what I say hard to take (‘cos I find them hard to take…). You’ve now given me permission to be me – thanks ever so much. Now it feels less like letting off steam and more “strategy in action”…post rationalised.

    Thanks also to you and Sonja for flagging up W1A. I love/hate it. The hate bit is it’s just too near the truth. I think I’ve become allergic to the type of people who inhabit this kind of world. And an increasing number of them seem to be popping up (like a rash?) in marketing/design/brand world. Thankfully I seem to be getting most of my work from people running real businesses.

    I starting to sound really horrible in print. But I can actually be quite nice face to face. I’m meeting someone tomorrow night who I upset by blogging about something they said on LinkedIn to buy them a pint – just to prove I’m OK really.

    Anyway, conclusion – great post that makes a very useful and valuable point. Thanks (I probably owe you and Sonja a pint now too)

    Reply
  4. I completely agree with everything in this article. The more we focus on just the sort of businesses e want to work with, the number of leads we generate reduces.

    However, the leads we do generate convert quicker, are highly committed and prepared to pay higher fees for our services.

    The challenge that we and others who want to go down this path is having the bravery to really focus your content on the clients, and only the clients, you want to attract.

    Reply
  5. Spot on Sharon! You write so well!

    My resistance to building a website was because of two fears: I didn’t want to spend time writing mountains of Valuable Content which would then attract a mixed bag of clients. This is really a shotgun approach. 🙁

    But, with Sonja’s help, I am now designing a laser! Step 1 is to define exactly what types of people I want in my sights. These are my Valuable Clients. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Well said.
    That said, the very point of marketing is to get focused and not just punt out any old generalised message. So the point I feel you’re underlining and reiterating is the power of going niche and the reward for the bravery it takes to do this.

    I’ve always said, the more specific and relevant you can make your message to the most targeted market imaginable, the greater success you’re going to achieve.

    Its the basis behind the art of winning the work you really want and getting paid what you’re really worth (i.e. what you so eloquently helped me realise that I did/do so well for my clients!).

    I salute your willingness to ask for what you want and learning the art of saying ‘no’ more often – I promise you it will pay dividends and only increase you’re magnetism.

    Reply
  7. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Jim, you have my full permission to be yourself – your writing makes us smile and is always spot in. (And we’re on for that pint too!)
    Thanks Heather, you’re so right. It is about bravery – and that bravery pays off once you take the plunge and start focusing purely on the work that brings out the best in you.
    Thanks for the kind words Robert, and good luck with designing your laser. We know how valuable you are to the right people, and you deserve every success.
    And thanks again Ryan. Here’s to attracting the clients we love and the lives we want. Cheers!
    (And blimey, that made me feel a bit like Gwyneth Paltrow – in awards acceptance speech mode, not a conscious uncoupling way!)

    Reply
  8. We found another secret over the years of building our business. Service businesses rely on client referrals for a big chunk of business. When we ensure the client is the right fit for us chances are they know other business owners in their circle that are just as great as they are. After a while you grow a wonderful client base. Life’s too short not to do what you love with people you want to work with.

    Reply
  9. That’s so true Richard – great point! Thank you.

    Reply

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