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Client feedback, ‘fringe benefits,’ and testimonials

Over the weekend, I started to reread my copy of Value Based Fees (link), and I opened to this quote:

Constantly survey your past clients to determine your full breadth and scope…. We are often ignorant of what the client feels has been the true impact of our partnership. Clients will often say, “What surprised me is that we were able to do this in addition to what we discussed. That was a great fringe benefit.” Fringe benefits to one party are primary benefits to another.

As Alan Weiss points out in VBF, this feedback from your past clients helps you better understand aspects of your services to highlight to future clients AND how your services are more valuable than you think (so you can charge more).

How to make a habit of surveying your past clients

Is it just me, or does the idea of surveying your past clients feel a bit… uncomfortable?

To make this feel more natural, what you can do is take a standard, expected process (e.g., asking for a testimonial) and add a few additional questions to understand what the client feels has been the real impact of your work together.

To get you started, Meg Cumby (testimonial titan & case study celebrity) and I put together the Ultimate Testimonial Guide (a 100% free resource).

This guide outlines a repeatable process you can follow to survey your clients and gather feedback and insights. While the questions we recommend are meant to help you get a great testimonial, this process also enables you to learn more about your partnership’s true impact with your client.

Here’s how to use this:

If you’re looking for the best way to get started with testimonials, the (free) Ultimate Testimonial Guide has the information you need https://kaidavis.com/courses/client-testimonials/ultimate-testimonial-guide/.

Or, get expert testimonial help

If you’re looking for expert help to get testimonials and client feedback, check out Meg Cumby’s services (https://megcumby.com/work-with-meg/). Meg specializes in getting you high-quality testimonials and case studies without the awkwardness.

Her Client Success Stories are great to read through https://megcumby.com/clientstories/.

Here’s what one of Meg’s clients has to share about working with her:

My biggest fear was having someone else talk to my client without me there. What put me at ease was seeing that Meg had a clearly defined process for the service and that she conducted herself professionally in our conversations. I could see that she knew exactly what she was doing and would get better results than if I were to collect the testimonials myself. — Mike Julian, CEO, Duckbill Group

Excelsior!

Kai

Revisiting The Law of Raspberry Jam

Again and again, I’m drawn back to Gerald Weinberg’s The Law of Raspberry Jam.

The more you spread it, the thinner it is.

As indie consultants & freelancers, the law of raspberry jam is one that we violate at our peril. Think about the essential marketing items that you need in place to market your business, grow, and generate leads:

  • A narrow, specific target market for your positioning
  • An expensive problem that you solve for your clients
  • An ideal client that you’re trying to get in touch with
  • Specific marketing channels you’re consistently using to reach your target market

If you spread any of these out, your marketing starts to get… thin. Would you want:

  • A broad target market? (e.g., small business positioning kaidavis.com/small-business-positioning/)
  • A not-so-pressing problem to solve for your clients?
  • Just a fuzzy idea of who your ideal client might be?
  • A new marketing channel each month (or week)?

The more you spread your marketing, the thinner your marketing gets.

But, you can always identify where your marketing is thinner than you want it to be and define a plan to improve (https://kaidavis.com/levels/).

That is to say, if you have a broad, ill-defined target market, you can look at your past clients and identify the best. You can then update your positioning (e.g., target market, tagline) to focus on this narrow, more specific target market.

Likewise, if you’re suffering from a general, vague idea of who your ideal client is, you can take the time to think through the attributes (e.g., market, maturity) and qualities (e.g., friendly, pays invoices on time) of your ideal client. You can then update your screening/application process to help you better identify who is a fit and who isn’t before you start working together.

Excelsior!

Kai

Talking Testimonials (And Celebrating Successes)

One thing that I’ve long believed (but failed to practice) is that when you receive a new testimonial, you should take the time to tell people about it.

As Directive #8 tells us:

Be the first to celebrate your own successes. ‘If I ain’t cheering for me, why would anyone else?’

Today? I’m delighted to share a pair of new testimonials (and a slight reworking of the copy on my Marketing Clarity Call offering https://kaidavis.com/services/call/).

Here’s what Mitzi Perdue shared with me as a testimonial right after we finished our Marketing Clarity Call:

I’m thrilled by our time together! I calculate that with the five super-tips you gave me, that your time was worth to me roughly 50 times what I paid for it. You are so personable and knowledgeable and helpful. — Mitzi Perdue, Businesswoman, Author, and Professional Public Speaker

And here’s what Jakub Zajicek shared about his experience with the Marketing Clarity Call when I sent him over the testimonial questions from The Ultimate Guide to POWERFUL Client Testimonials (https://kaidavis.com/ultimate-testimonial-guide/)

“In the first 10 minutes of the call, I immediately saw a positive ROI”

I booked a Marketing Clarity Call with Kai because I was unclear on some steps in my Podcast Outreach process. I had a bunch of questions about Podcast Outreach and I couldn’t find answers online simply because my questions were too specific.

I decided to speak with Kai because of his level of experience and the overall vibe around his communication: no hyping, no income claims, and clearly stating the price. Plus, I had purchased a couple of his materials in the past, so I was sure that it would be money well-spent. ๐Ÿ™‚

After the call, I have more clarity, more confidence, and actionable steps to take with my outreach. I thought that my process and numbers sucked, but thanks to Kai, I can see that I’m above average. With the tips from Kai, I’m sure that I can become one of the best podcast booking agencies in the long run.

I strongly recommend having a Marketing Clarity Call with Kai. In the first 10 minutes of the call, I immediately saw a positive ROI. The level of his preparation and ability to answer even the most complicated questions surprised me in the best possible way.

— Jakub Zajicek, Podcast Outreach Consultant

If you’re looking for actionable, specific, and helpful advice on marketing and growing your business as an indie consultant, there are call times available starting on July 1st.

Run, don’t walk, to https://kaidavis.com/services/call/, and schedule your 1-on-1 Marketing Clarity Call today.

Excelsior!

Kai

p.s., If you’re thinking “Hm, how do I get POWERFUL client testimonials,” then you’ll want to check out The Ultimate Guide To Testimonials, a free resource that Meg Cumby and I created, right here: https://kaidavis.com/courses/client-testimonials/ultimate-testimonial-guide/

Getting rid of that pain in your neck

Not a pain in the neck client (though if you have that pain, you should most likely fire that client).

I’m talking about a literal pain in your neck.

A few months ago, a friend (and fellow Indie Consultant) mentioned that their back, neck, and shoulders started to ache.

They had been pulling late nights working on a large project, and their posture while working at their computer had degraded into that uncomfortable hunched back and leaned forward head.

I shared a slightly unorthodox recommendation with my friend: get thee to a physical therapist!

For most of my life, I assumed that physical therapists were there to help you recover from the more substantial injuries in life (e.g., car accident, slip and fall, muscle tear).

Turns out, they also help their clients improve movement and posture as well as manage pain.

If you’re feeling more and more aches from working on your computer (at a desk or on the sofa) or craning your neck down to use your phone, a physical therapist can help. They can recommend posture tips for your unique situation and specific exercise routines to follow to fix up your posture and unwind the tangled mess of knots in your neck, back, and shoulders.

The other resource that I strongly recommend you explore is yoga. My yoga habit changed for the better and become consistent once I discovered Glo (https://glo.com). Glo’s extensive online library of yoga classes and Yin/restorative yoga1 makes it super easy to practice. During my workday, I’ll often go to my living room and do a ~10-15 minute Yin session to unwind my back.

Yoga (especially Yin/restorative yoga) can provide a lot of relief for your back/neck/shoulders if you’ve had bad posture while working at your computer.

And, dear reader, if you see a Physical Therapist or start Yoga and realize that you have two pains in your neck (one from bad posture at your computer and one from a hard to work with client), I recommend you let that client go to make space for the new, better, higher-paying clients in your future.

Excelsior!

Kai

  1. Restorative yoga helps an unhealthy body, or an injured body, restore itself to normal, back to healthy, back to uninjured. While Restorative yoga focuses on restoring bodies with particular ailments, Yin yoga works deep into the connective tissues to activate change at that deepest level. โ†ฉ

Premium Pricing For Priority Projects?

When it comes to client projects, what do you do when you get booked solid, but the leads keep knocking on your door? Tap reply and let me know, I’m curious what you do.

Thinking on this (and talking about it in https://freelance.camp, my micro-community for indie consultants and freelancers) three options come to mind:

One option is to turn new clients/projects away.

I’m booked solid right now. I can provide you with a few referrals to other folks who might be able to help you out.

Another option is to let folks know that you’re booking X weeks (or X months) out.

I’m booking new work for <s>August</s> September. As a next step, let’s get on a call, discuss what you need help with, and see if our timelines match up.

But! There’s a third option. What if you had intentionally set a client slot aside?

With this, you’re selling time that you’d typically use for working on your business. If a client wants to buy that time out and get ‘priority access,’ they can pay a premium and start working with you now (or, soon) instead of not working together at all or waiting X months to work together.

If you usually charge $1,500 for a project, you could sell this priority access for, say, at $2,000 or $2,500 for the client slot.

This isn’t a new idea by any means. You can look at service providers in almost any industry out there and find examples of premium pricing for priority access.

But I’m curious, what do you do when you’re booked solid, but someone wants to work with you now? Tap reply and let me know and feel free to share as much or as little as comes to mind.

Excelsior!

Kai

p.s., there’s also a fourth option of ‘start work with the new client now at your normal rate even though you’re booked solid,’ but that’s an unhealthy, stressful option that is in no way endorsed by your friend Kai or The House of Consultants.

Onboarding You

We’re recording an episode about Client Onboarding on Secret Kai Davis Podcast Project #1. (Fan club members, mark the appropriate spot(s) on the 2020 secret-project bingo card you received in the mail. (Level 5 fan club members: you also received a frperg qrpbqre evat.))

Anyway, client onboarding

Onboarding is important because it lets you set the stage for your working relationship and answer common questions both you and your client have.

Like any relationship, your first few meetings do a lot of the heavy lifting in setting the tone and tenor for your relationship, sharing expectations, and setting boundaries. If you spend the time, effort, and attention on optimizing your first few interactions (e.g., kickoff meeting, information request, initial check-in meeting), you will have better relationships with your clients.

I think of these optimizations like getting a haircut or watching a funny episode of Seinfeld[1] before a date. These are steps that will help you start on a good foot with your client. But no optimizations on earth will save you if you routinely find yourself in an adversarial relationship with your clients. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, dear reader, get thyself to a therapist.

That said, onboarding is where you can calmly point to the wrought iron fence of boundaries you’ve built between ‘your business’ and ‘yourself’ (e.g., “I’m relentless about deep work and only check my email once a day at 3pm”, “I work from 9 am – 4 pm, Mon – Thursday. I take Friday and the weekend to myself to recharge and spend time with my loved ones.”)

$ize of Engagement Kinda Doesn’t Matter

In terms of your onboarding experience, there’s a world of difference between a $500 project and a $500k project:

  • The $500 project is getting an automatic email (e.g., “I’m looking forward to working together and…”) along with a nicely-designed PDF of next steps + what information to share with me.
  • The $500k project is getting the consulting team flown in for the on-site kickoff meeting and information exchange.

But, no matter the $ize of your engagement, you’re aiming to meet the same objectives:

  • Explain how you’ll work together
  • Answer + ask common questions
  • Share information
  • Confirm the timeline and next steps
  • Build a strong(er) relationship

Onboarding for Indie Consultants

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re the owner-slash-marketer for a small boutique consultancy: an Indie Consultancy. That means you’re looking to generate a polished, professional experience, with minimal ongoing time commitments for you. That means automation, templates, and Standard Operating Procedures (https://kaidavis.com/standard-operating-procedures/) are your friend.

Start by writing down your current onboarding process (as robust or brand new as it might be) as a standard operating procedure. Write it down so you can remember it later. That way, next time you onboard a new client, you can reference the SOP, follow the steps, and know that you’re tackling the right things.

Then, over time, progressively iterate on your SOP. Update what you do, what you ask, and how you move the client from payment through kickoff. Keep what works, and discard the rest.

Here are the essentials I focus on:

  • Your onboarding starts immediately after they pay. What’s the experience like right after they pay? It should serve to transition them into expectation setting and information sharing for the engagement. For 4-figure and under engagements that I sell through my website, I point people to an onboarding page that sets expectations and confirms what they should do next and sends them an email with similar information.
  • Your onboarding should last through the first project check-in meeting. You’re not done after the kickoff meeting. Think through the points of contact, interactions, and meetings you’ll have with your client over Month 1/Month 2.
  • Always have a kickoff meeting. Seeing faces makes a night-and-day difference in the quality of your relationship. You want to be more than just an avatar in Slack and a voice on a Zoom call.
  • Take the lead with onboarding. You’ve worked with lots of clients; this is your client’s first time working with you. Spell out how to best work with you, what your boundaries are, what types of questions you can help them answer, and what the next steps look like for your project.

Recommended tooling

Start simple and add more flare with time. I like:

  • Zoom for calls
  • Calendly so they can book a kickoff meeting
  • A page on your site that you direct them to after they pay
  • A nicely designed PDF that you email to them that outlines next-steps
  • A well-written agenda for the kickoff meeting

If you have any top of mind questions about Client Onboarding, tap reply and send them my way.

Excelsior!

Kai

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marine_Biologist

How on earth do you get people to respond to your outreach (without feeling slimy, sales-y, or overly self-promotional)?

A reader writes in asking about outreach.

Specifically, how on earth do you get people to respond to your outreach messages (without feeling slimy, sales-y, or overly self-promotional)?

In the outreach campaigns I run for myself (and for my consulting clients), there are a few essential rules I’ve picked up over time.

One of the most important – and often overlooked – rules is that you want to start with small asks.

Often (too often) an outreach sequence starts with a Large Ask:

  • “Can we have a call?”
  • “Will you sign up for this with your credit card?”
  • “Do you want to buy this from me?”
  • “Can you answer this intimate question about your business for me, a virtual stranger?”

If your ask is too massive, people will ignore it and ignore your message.

To show empathy for and understanding of the person reading your message, start with a small ask. Make your ask as specific and relevant to the person you’re emailing as possible.

Something in this vein often works well:

Can you answer this one question about…? I’ve already tried A and B, and I’m reaching out to you because of C.

Then, if they reply, keep the conversation going. Follow a stair-step pattern and ask larger questions over time and as you build up the relationship.

That could look like:

  • Can you answer this one question over email?
  • Can I ask a pair of follow-up questions over email?
  • Would you offer feedback on this idea?
  • Are you open to getting on a short 15-minute audio call (I’ll share an agenda w/ 3 questions)
  • Can we jump on a video call, and I ask you a few questions?
  • Hey, I’m going to be in (city) in a few weeks. Would you like to meet up for coffee near your office?
  • You’ve mentioned (problem) a few times. That’s something I specialize in solving for my clients. Are you up for a conversation about how I might be able to help you?

You’re starting with small asks first (kaidavis.com/small-asks-first/).

Then, as the relationship starts to form, you’re asking progressively more substantial and more significant asks.

By the way, if you’re struggling to get replies to your outreach emails (or, you aren’t sure where to get started with outreach), you’ll want to grab a copy of The Outreach Blueprint (https://kaidavis.com/products/outreach-blueprint/)

In The Outreach Blueprint, you’ll have a system you can follow to:

  • Email people and start a conversation with them
  • Stimulate future conversations around their pains and problems
  • Turn those initial conversations into an opportunity to see if they’re interested in your services

Outreach, at its heart, is about understanding the needs and wants that the other party is experiencing and stimulating a conversation around helping them by solving that problem.

And The Outreach Blueprint is your guide to polite, persistent outreach (https://kaidavis.com/products/outreach-blueprint/).

Excelsior!

Kai