How do you find a market for your business? Do you determine your products or services and then go out and beat the bushes for customers? Sitting behind a desk, cold calling potential leads all day is one method of business building. But, is there a better way?
In my continuing interview with Christine Clifton of Client Centric Growth, she shared part of her entrepreneurial journey where she discusses her experience with those confusing questions. How she started her business from scratch and discovered exactly what her clients needed from her is a story that will help you.
Kalynn: Christine has some very specific remedies for small business owners so that they can really get more out of their business, maybe with even less effort than they imagined they had to. I want to talk more about Client Centric Growth. How did you come to create it?
Christine: I mentioned earlier that after closing my wellness studio, I came back from a sabbatical. My savings was running out. My home had been on the market for 18 months trying to sell it. The easiest thing would have been going back to corporate. I said, “You know what. I can’t do it. I just don’t want to go back to corporate America.”
I started networking again. Going back into those [previous business] communities that I spoke of earlier and just started asking them, “What do you need? What’s your biggest challenge? Most of them said, “I don’t have time to do the marketing that I need to do. The money I’m spending on marketing right now isn’t really netting the greatest result for me. I really want to plan. I really want some ideas and I need help.”
What I did was start Client Centric Growth with the intent of making it a marketing services company. Specifically doing outbound [marketing], what I call warm call approach, on behalf of businesses, representing myself as their business. But doing all that activity [for them], the phone back and forth, the e-mail back and forth as well as some direct mail marketing to build their business. That’s how it started.
Kalynn: Something that you said struck me. When you’re trying to make that decision between going back to corporate America or continuing your entrepreneur’s journey, you went back into your networking circles. But rather than talk to those people about you and your needs, what you just told me is that you started to talk to them about what they needed.
In the position you were in, what prompted you to do that? Why weren’t you asking how they could help you? Why were you asking how you could help them?
Christine: I think it’s part of my DNA, Kalynn. People call me the community connectrix because I’m so natural at connecting people to others that they need to know – at least I think that they need to know. Usually my first outreach is point of service. What do you need? How can I connect you?
Some people just need to talk through what they’re facing. As I was starting to talk with them, it was real natural. They asked, “Where have you been? We haven’t seen you in six months.” I’m like, “Yeah, I know. I’m coming back.” It’s just something that I did. It’s coming from the point of service.
Maybe I look back to my work experience having started in restaurants throughout high school, college and that was my first career out of college, and department stores of course service based as well. Quite honestly whether it’s a product or a service that you offer in your business, there’s service that has to back it. I’ve had my own culture of service excellence my whole career.
Kalynn: I like that. I like that a lot. Something else that you talked about was conducting warm call marketing campaigns. You and I have talked about the fact that I personally have a phobia — I’ll call it a phobia — about making what I call cold calls.
I don’t like talking on the phone in general even with people I know. People who know me really well realize that. Caller ID was one of my favorite inventions ever. I know whether I really need to pick up the phone or not.
Conducting warm call marketing campaigns. How do you go about just in general structuring that?
Christine: What I tell business owners is that when you’re always going after the new, new, new, new, new it’s exhausting. It wears you down. It’s like you’re chasing after strangers for business.
When we look within our own realm of people we already know, which is similar linking back to what I mentioned about building your own support networks, that is the more rich soil for potential business whether it be people we know, joint ventures, former clients, or new prospects.
Actually, when I started the business I had a group of pilot clients so I could test my theories. I had two cold call campaigns I was running and two warm call campaigns I was running. The “from campaign to appointment rate” for cold call campaigns is about 2%. My warm call campaign results 30 – 50%.
Kalynn: That gives me hope. That warms the cockles of my heart.
Market Research and Building a Business
Looking at an existing market and actually asking them what they need, is a sure way to make certain you’re providing the products and services that market wants. One of the common mistakes those starting a business make, is assuming they already know what the market wants. It’s less work and more successful to just ask your market what they need help achieving. Then you don’t have to find a market for your business, because they will most certainly find you.