Imagine the perfect scenario… you’ve got clients you love, work you believe in, a team you trust, work-life balance that’s sustainable…
If this sounds like you, stop reading now and treat yourself to a generous helping of ice cream. You’ve made it.
I’ve encountered a lot of people, many of them creatives, who have left stable 9 to 5 jobs they didn’t love, so they could pursue greater freedom. But, after a few years, they’d run into a very common problem: they felt trapped again, but this time, they didn’t have the stable salary and benefits anymore. They’d given up the comforts of employment for greater autonomy, and yet, the freedom part wasn’t finding itself.
I found that the core of the problem was frequently in their storytelling. By telling the “wrong” story about themselves, they were attracting the “wrong” client — and the wrong client often meant a lack of creative freedom, time, or budget to do their best work. But of all three of these ingredients, creative freedom (read: trust) was the key missing link.
So how do you tell a story that attracts the right client?
That’s a discussion we had the other day via webinar, in partnership with an organization that supports lawyers branching off to start their own firms.
If I can sum up the thesis of the webinar, it’s this:
Figure out what your unique story is.
Tell it well.
Many people think that step 2 is the hard part, and yes, I’ll agree that storytelling is a nuanced and challenging endeavor. But the real challenge for many people (and companies) is…
Identifying what makes you unique in the first place – largely because it’s hard to know whether what you think is unique is considered unique by others;
And understanding oneself. To understand yourself as a person (and/or as a company), you need to ask some deep questions, which is not something we’re all used to doing.
And look, I’ll freely admit, I’ve certainly been the “plumber with leaky pipes” before, telling everyone else’s story while forgetting about the importance of my own. Not to mention, it’s hard telling your own story when you’re so close to it. It’s hard to see things objectively.
A new friend of mine put it perfectly at lunch the other day…
“You’re in the bottle, so you can’t see the label.”
Which is why sometimes it’s helpful to have a friend or colleague, someone you trust, to help you see things from the outside. After all, prospective clients are outsiders. Taking a moment to look within, to assess your values and beliefs, is the beginning of great storytelling.
Simon Sinek brilliantly said…
The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.
And this brings me to two additional points about attracting the right people. You need to…
Know what you believe;
And have the courage to share it.
Why do I put the word “courage” in there? Because in order to stand for something, it often means not standing for something else. It may mean someone in your audience disagreeing with your belief.
But here’s the beauty of it. If you’re more concerned with attracting the “right” client than “just any” client, then good riddance! If someone decides not to reach out to you because you’ve been open about what you stand for, that’s less time wasted on a client who could have been all wrong for you. Instead, the people who do align with your values get in touch (in droves), and you find yourself surrounded with clients and projects you love.
Business doesn’t have to be a blind popularity contest. Prioritize quality over quantity, determine your ideal client, and tell your story in a way that attracts just those.
Thankful for the amazing clients I have,
PS: if you found this post interesting, scroll up and watch the webinar recording for additional insights.