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STAGNATION is not a good thing

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Hi Folks -- Guru here...


So I've been in business for a year, and I know the stories of how long it takes to get a good client base and new income, etc. I'm just a little down because my projections for my 1Q are COMPLETELY off the mark. With all the specials I've run, holiday specials 2x month, I'm not generating NEW income. So I'm trying to revamp my collateral [biz cards/brochures/flyers/etc]


My biggest issue, is that I've spent ALOT of my budget on trying to obtain clients, I've hosted networking events where ppl just ate my food and left. I've taken significant potentials out for coffee to discuss, and again, they've eaten at my expense and simply kept it moving. So perhaps its MY ability to "bring it home" or "close the deal".


I don't know, I just see my business accounts dwindling, and I'm not making any deposits and this concerns me. I understand the first years of business I may have to dip into my own [personal] money. I feel like I did that by saving upwards of a few thousand as I was starting my business, and put it aside for business only purposes. Well, every expense can be justified [not necessarily written off] but again, funds are going down, and I'm still sitting with no clients for 2011 and its almost MAY! This doesn't move me any closer to being a Corporate DropOut if I'm unable to sustain consistency in clientele & income.


Sigh.. perhaps I'm venting, but even so, I still welcome any feedback or two cents you may have to get outta a rut!

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Hi (Sorry, don't know your name)


What types of services do you offer? I didn't see your website URL in your signature so I can't visit your website to see who you are to offer more specific suggestions.


With that in mind, I'll take a shot in the dark and ask a few broad questions . . .


+ Perhaps the potentials you're speaking with are a mismatch for the services you offer so it could be beneficial to better qualify your leads.


+ Perhaps the message of how a VA would best work with the prospect isn't clear in their mind so it's hard for them to grasp how much you could do for them.


+ Are the prospects you've met cold calls or warm leads?


+ Are you marketing where your ideal client will see you? And, think of you when needing XYZ service?


It sounds as if your goal is in local marketing and finding local clients. Have you joined local business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce or a Business Networking (BNI) Group in your area?

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I'm sorry for not providing details.. I thought my signature was automatic..


Randa S. Lee

President & Get It Done Guru,

Excellence Without Excuses

E-mail: Get It Done Guru

Website: www.excellencewithoutexcuses.com



+ Are the prospects you've met cold calls or warm leads? -- COLD CALLS..




+ And, think of you when needing XYZ service? I DON'T KNOW..



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Hi Randa,


Cold calls can be tough and I understand your frustrations.


Marketing to your ideal client means very specifically identifying who can best use your services. Yes, small business owners is a start but if you narrow it down more, and more, and more you'll quickly see, for an example, that business owners, aged 25-45, who have 1-3 employees, in the landscaping industry who want to send newsletters to new gardeners in the Baltimore area are your ideal client. See the difference?


Knowing this type of information about your ideal client would lead you to send a flyer or intro packet to Baltimore based landscapers, attend Flower & Garden shows in that area to meet landscapers at their booth to learn who's doing a newsletter and gently inquire how they stay in touch with gardeners in the area like yourself, check the Chamber of Commerce directory to see if any landscapers are listed members, determine where landscapers are getting their printed newsletters created and chat with that biz owner about being their resource contact, etc. Basically, put yourself where landscapers are, get to know them and their needs, and become the solution they are seeking.


I'd suggest focusing your promotions on three of your core services, to start, and see how you can build business off of those. Once you get a client, don't be shy about asking for a referral to their friends. Clients often hangout with like-minded individuals. ;)



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Okay, so my :penny: :


What you are doing is obviously not working. IMHO, you need to revisit SEVERAL things.


1. Your target market. 'Small Businesses' is not a target market unless you offer specialized services, and even then, it's rough. From your website, I see that you are a generalist, so you need to have a tightly defined target market. When you think about your 'ideal' client, who is that? What do they do? Where do they live? What does their business look like (industry, size, revenue, employees)? If you're talking to everybody, nobody is listening. This is the voice of experience talking. I had to completely refocus and rebrand 6 months after I launched my business because I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Try this exercise: write a profile of your 'ideal' client. Give him/her a name, an age, everything you can think of. It will help you narrow down who you need to look for/work with. I know it seems counter-intuitive to market to less people when you're having trouble finding clients as it is, but trust me, it works. Once you know who you are talking to, you will know what to say to make them listen. You need to be able to speak their language, and talk to them in terms of solutions that will solve their problems. While it is true that almost any biz can benefit from a VA, different markets are going to have different problems for us to solve.


2. Your marketing plan. You do have one, right? If not, you need to get one ASAP. Not to be harsh, but "I hang around Office Depot" is NOT a marketing strategy that is going to get you clients. You need to figure out where your clients are and go there. Are there industry forums you can join? Chamber of Commerce events? Get on a good marketing plan ASAP - your business depends on it. Also, reconsider running a bazillion specials and discounts. Are you trying too hard? Maybe you're coming off as somewhat desperate? How do you market on the internet? Are you talking "at" people, or with them? Are you building relationships? Trust=buy. Book recommendation: "Trust Agents" by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Read it, learn it, read it again, treat it as your relationship-building gospel.


3. Your service offerings. Make sure that you're only offering services that add value to your clients' businesses. Right now, with this economy, if they see it as an 'expense' and not an 'investment' (I think I heard this phrase in a VAvirtuosos seminar this week, and it is TRUE), even if they hire you, you're not going to last long. See points 1 and 2, your services should be tailored to your market and marketing plan. Make sure you're saying the right things.

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I have to agree with what Ruth and Amanda have said.


I would add the following ...


Just having seminars and letting anyone attend is not a good idea. You need to make sure that most of the people who receive invitations to your seminar/workshop are in your target market, need the services that you offer and have the money in their budget to afford to sign a contract with you.


Hosting networking events is not an avenue to get clients. The purpose of networking is to meet other business owners and to form a relationship with them. Which it another topic entirely.


Also, are you qualifying those potential clients? Do you have a process from finding the client to closing the sale?


Last of all, have you written a Business Plan?

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