Weeding out the riffraff

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I heard a radio spot the other night by an ad agency describing how they helped a client company increase their sales dramatically, and inviting listeners to consider hiring them for their business. At the end of the spot, the announcer said, “…starting at just $9,000 a week…” and then gave the phone number to call.

My first thought was, “What kind of small business (which are the bulk of the advertisers on that station) have that kind of an ad budget?”

The answer, of course, is small businesses that are making a lot of money. And there are a lot more than people realize.

Plus, if you have a successful ad campaign, as new sales are made, you re-invest the initial week’s $9,000 ad buy over and over again. You can thus do a half-million dollars of annual advertising with a fraction of that much to start.

Anyway, next question: why did the ad agency announce the minimum investment an advertiser would have to spend to hire them? Because if they didn’t, they would talk to a lot of people who think they can get started with $1000 or $1500.

If you get a lot of calls from prospective clients who can’t afford you and don’t hire you, you should consider doing something similar.

In your ads, on your website, in your presentations, or when anyone asks, tell people what it takes to hire you. No, not your fees precisely. The minimum retainer or your smallest “package,” so they know whether or not they are in the ballpark.

There are times when you may want to keep things a little fuzzy, however. Some clients might get sticker shock when they first hear “how much” but have the money and pay it, once they consider the alternatives.

Another way to weed out prospective clients who are too small or otherwise “not right” for you is to spell out who you’re looking for in terms of revenue, number of employees, locations, or other factors that relate to size and ability to pay.

You can also do this with consumer-oriented practices. If you do estate planning or asset protection, you could promote your services to people with assets in excess of a certain amount. If you handle family law, you might promote your services to clients with a child custody dispute.

You can also target wealthier clients by running ads in publications for investors, direct mail to people who own larger homes, or by networking with accountants, financial planners, and insurance brokers who have the clientele you want to attract.

If you want bigger clients, stop promoting your services to “anyone” and start promoting them to bigger clients.

Here’s how to get bigger referrals (and more of them)

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