Friday, October 23, 2015

The Definition of Insanity

I've been having an email conversation recently with a resume writer who has been plagued with a PITA (Pain-In-The-A$$) client who is leaving negative reviews on her Yelp page. (I've written before about how to combat negative reviews here.) 

She reached out to me because this past client has been disparaging her on Yelp because she denied him a refund (and he lost the dispute with his credit card company about it) and Yelp is now showing this negative review exclusively on her page (and hiding all of her "good" reviews). We talked through some strategies for handling that, but the bigger issue is that she has expressed continual frustration with the prices she can charge in her area and PITA clients.

My advice to her is: STOP FOCUSING ON REVIEWS. "Live by the reviews, die by the reviews."

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. One of her top sources of clients is people who find her online using sites like Thumbtack (or Angie's List) and Yelp. As I explained to her, clients who find you through Google these days are the equivalent of clients who would find you through the Yellow Pages 5-7 years ago. ("Good" clients could be found through the Yellow Pages at one time, but that hasn't really been the case for me for about the last 10 years.) They often don't understand the difference between a $75 resume and a $750 resume. They're more likely to be tire-kickers or try to talk you down on your prices.

My message to her is: The first step is recognizing the problem. The second step is admitting you have a problem. The third step is doing something about the problem!

Instead of worrying about negative reviews online, I advised her instead to spend her time and effort cultivating prospects and referral sources. I had previously recommended the Get Clients Now! book to her as a system to help her organize and implement her marketing efforts.
In her most recent email, she expressed frustration that clients in her area (including executives) weren't willing to even pay $265 for a resume and cover letter. (The national average for a resume and cover letter is around $500, according to the Resume Writers' Digest Annual Industry Survey.) I told her:
I can assure you that there are prospective clients in YOUR AREA who are going online and paying $500+ for a resume and cover letter from a resume writer in another state. You offer more personalized service (FOCUS ON THIS!!) and there's no reason why you can't attract them. You're not going to find them on sites like Thumbtack, and many of them aren't going to find that Yelp review. Clients who find you through a Google search (that's today's version of the Yellow Pages) are more price-sensitive and are more likely to be PITAs.

When you rely on hoping prospective clients find you -- rather than attracting your ideal clients -- you're likely to find yourself working with clients who see you as a commodity, rather than an expert resource.

From teaching six sessions of the Get Clients Now program (five of them specifically for resume writers), the top sources for GREAT clients are:
1) Referrals from past, satisfied clients
2) Relationships with hiring managers and recruiters who will refer clients (most without expectation of a referral fee)
3) Speaking engagements you do (not on resume writing, but on other aspects of the job search -- LinkedIn, for example)
4) Writing (blogging, writing articles, guest posting, publishing content on your own website)
5) People who you know in your day-to-day life (friends, family, neighbors, etc.) who know what you do and refer people they know who need job search help

So, in order to attract better (higher quality, higher paying) clients, you need to:
1) Identify your ideal client
2) FIgure out where they "hang out" (online and offline)
3) Provide information/resources that make you a valued resource (to increase your "know/like/trust" factor)
4) Make it clear how you can help

As a homework exercise before folks start the Get Clients Now group training with me, I ask them to track how they've gotten their clients in the last 30 days. I want you to do that, but I want you to take a step further. Look back at your five favorite clients to work with. Figure out how you got them. Are there any lessons in that for how you can attract more clients like them?

As you work to attract more of your ideal clients (at a higher pay rate than what you're getting now), you'll get out of the cycle of burnout and frustration. But it doesn't happen overnight, and from now on, you must dedicate yourself to 100% quality and meeting every deadline. I don't care if these clients review you on Yelp or not. If they're happy, they will tell others. (And you will TELL them to tell others!)

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Your resume writing business can get better, but you have to decide what you want, and then act on it.

Are you ready to do something different?

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