Understanding the Prospective Client

by Autumn McGarr

Before we engage with prospective clients, we have to attract them. 

To accomplish that, marketing experts including Marcus Sheridan, Danny Iny and Jonathan Christian say that we must start with a detailed description of our ideal clients. If we know who our target clients are, we have a better chance at attracting and working with them, they believe. 

To begin, compile a demographic list, and include their age and generational group. Also, list their location, education, career and income, family information and hobbies. Next you need to research your ideal clients’ psychographic information: attitudes, beliefs, values, aspirations and fears. 

Donald Miller, the author of Building a Story Brand and Marketing Made Simple (https://www.storybrand.com), emphasizes the importance of telling a story about our brand and how we can help clients. It’s about them, not us. Both books helped me improve content. 

How to Attract Clients 

There are steps you can take to attract clients. Take control of your marketing. Create or update your website and portfolio, the foundation of your marketing efforts. Commit to writing one blog a week and include case studies; these stories are essential because they show how you’ve helped homeowners solve challenges. 

Search for “how to write a blog” and “inbound marketing” to get inspired. Everything you write should end with a single, strong Call To Action, like “Subscribe to my newsletter” or “contact me today to talk about your project.” 

We are fortunate to have the technology available to help us market our services. Social media is the best marketing tool we have! Select one platform and post daily with short videos about recent projects. Include a link to an online calendar so people can schedule phone calls and virtual meetings. 

Analytics is another fantastic tool that can help you pave your way to success, but learning to read, understand and use analytics can be challenging. I’m still learning. But if I can overcome technophobia to learn new skills, so can you! It’s definitely worth putting in the time.

It’s also important to avoid the advertising trap unless you want to pay social media sites a massive amount of money. If you’re going to advertise, choose wisely. Advertising is passive – it relies on who is seeing your ads and whether your message is strong enough to motivate them to contact you. 

Also, I recommend avoiding subscription services that provide referrals. They want to lock you into a contract to pay a monthly fee or pay per recommendation. While you may get prospects, the chances are high they won’t fit your ideal client description. 

Hypothetical Success Story 

So, let’s take a look at what might happen when you connect with the right client.

You created a new blog targeting your ideal niche market, and you verified it has excellent SEO (I recommend Rank Math). You recorded a two-minute video synopsis of your blog and wrote a catchy title for Instagram. Then you posted the video and linked it to your blog. Your video has a strong Call To Action and links to your website’s “Contact Me” page. 

Several weeks later, you get a call from a prospective client. This person will likely fit your ideal niche market. Why? Because your blog proves that you understand their problems and confirms you’re the right person to help them. 

What do you do before you answer the phone? Take a deep breath. Then smile as you answer. Your smile will be audible! 

After stating your company name and your name, follow with, “How can I help you today?” Now you’ve established an immediate rapport with your caller! 

During the phone call, ask questions about the age of their home, where they live and how long they’ve lived in their home. Then ask them about specific obstacles they have, how long they’ve coped with the issues and the goals they want to achieve. Finally, don’t forget to confirm where they discovered you and ask for their email address. 

Your primary goal is to listen and take copious notes during this conversation. Make appropriate, authentic, compassionate comments to affirm that you understand and care. Never use anything they say as an opportunity to launch into a sales pitch. 

After thanking them for calling when the conversation has reached a logical conclusion, you have two options. First, if you’re interested in their project, tell them, and ask for an appointment. If you’re not interested, tell them that you can’t help and give them a valid, compassionate reason for your decision. Then, refer them to the NKBA members’ website – https://www.nkba.org – and wish them good luck in their search. 

Be sure to send an email thanking the prospective client for the conversation. Confirm your appointment, and don’t forget to recap their predicament. Close the message with how excited you are to meet them in person. Then include a Call To Action to visit your “About Me” page, with a link. 

The appointment day arrives. Get everything ready to go, including sample plans. Allow enough time to drive around the prospective client’s neighborhood. 

Once inside their home, thank them for inviting you to this meeting. Then, ask them to show you the area they want to remodel. If you notice apparent defects they didn’t include in their list, ask to inspect the issue. Then, offer a solution, or mention another project with similar irregularities and how you solved them, which will verify that you’re a creative problem solver. 

Review their problems and ask about their time frame and budget. Invite them to ask you questions. If you believe it will be a good working relationship, tell them you want to help. Finally, promise to send a proposal by a specific date and follow through – no excuses. 

If you feel uneasy about them (unrealistic expectations?), thank them for the meeting and tell them why you cannot help them. It’s challenging to do, but we cannot help everyone who calls us. Promise to send an email with a link to the NKBA members’ site to find other qualified designers. Send the email as soon as you return to your office. 

In these challenging times, new marketing trends are tough to assimilate. I have spent the past two years reading books and white papers about marketing. I’ve attended 10 webinars and classes, and I’m involved in a six-month master marketing class. As a result, I have renewed confidence to try new marketing models. I’m happy to say that it’s finally starting to pay off. 

My final words of advice, using alliteration: During COVID, find the courage to step out with confidence and compassion to conquer marketing confusion. ▪

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, CAPS, NCIDQ is the principal of D.P. Design in Oregon City, OR and has over 35 years of experience as a kitchen and bath designer. She is the author of the award-winning book, THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling, and has been the recipient of numerous design awards. Named a 2019 KBDN Innovator, Plesset has taught Western design to students of the Machida Academy in Japan and has a podcast, “Today’s Home.” 

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