Many of us have found that if we lose that corporate job – either through downsizing, cost-cutting or the business simply shuts down, finding another job is a daunting task. Most employers will look at a Boomer and a younger worker, and see dollar signs.
They know that they can get similar quality work (or – let’s be honest here – better quality) from a younger worker, and for less money. Yes, our experience in a job has great value, but perhaps not as much as we think. The market determines the value of our skills and talents very efficiently.
This can be a gut-punch to a Boomer who thought they were nearing, “the finish line” of their career.
So, we decide to strike out on our own and make our fortune. Far too often, we dump our life savings into a venture and come up empty. You see, we may have a specific and valuable skill set, but many of us have no idea on how to sell those skills on the open market.
I was hunting around the old Interwebs looking for information on carving out a niche for a business. Branding is the word used. This Buddhist Waiter understands.
What a Buddhist Waiter in the Florida Keys Can Teach You About Your Brand By Kimberly Ward Manning
I’ve heard this from too many women: I’ve taken umpteen seminars, poured everything I’ve got into building this business and I’m still not landing clients. What gives?
You spent beaucoup bucks on the online business school course designed to help you create the business you love. Signed up for Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ trainings so you can master the art of social media.
You hired a web designer to craft a website that will shine like a beacon, drawing clients to you like stargazers at a meteor shower. And what happened?
So many people, when starting a business, just follow a template they like but forget a key ingredient: Doing something different from the rest of the crowd. The only way you’re going to know how to zig when everyone else is zagging, is to know your customers.
You had every intention of creating a sustainable flow of great clients, which is why you invested so much of yourself and your resources in your business.
And when client attraction and retention isn’t happening, it feels… sucky. Like you did something wrong. Or didn’t do something. You think, “Maybe my clients don’t like me/my products and services/my website.”
If this feels familiar, you don’t have a client attraction problem – you have a branding problem.
Enter the Buddhist business coach
After a wonderful day of snorkeling in the Florida Keys, I stopped for dinner at a marina restaurant with an incredible sunset view of that gorgeous orange orb melting into the Atlantic. Dinner was delivered to our table by a nice waiter with lots of tattoos.
What really struck me was the wooden mala he wore around his wrist. A mala is a Buddhist bracelet, a meditation aid, and his was one of the most unusual I had seen. Large wooden beads in an interesting shade of green. I asked about it.
Turns out the dude is a recovering addict. Turned to Buddhism as a tool to get his life back in order and the mala, blessed by his teacher, was something he wears every day to remind him of his journey. Said he used to get pissed off by people, his reactions sending him down a destructive path. Now he sees everyone as his teacher. Nice people, difficult people, all kinds of people showing up with their stuff. They all have something to teach him.
Every customer at the restaurant is his teacher.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! If you’re not listening to your customers, not learning what they’re teaching you about what products they want, what level of service they demand, what kind of perks they expect – you’re going to be just another “also ran” business.
What’s the old saying? “You have two ears, two eyes and one mouth. Use them in those proportions.”
What that Buddhist waiter knows about your business
Every client (and prospective client) is your teacher. They will tell you everything you need to know in order to find them, engage them and attract them to your work.
Your prospective client will share what fires them up. And what keeps them up at night.
You can learn where they hang out. The language they speak, the dance steps they like to do.
You can’t engage and attract someone unless you’re engaging and attractive.
Seems so simple, but so many business owners miss this critical point.
Good branding is [client] attractive
When you take the time to understand your prospective client, you can craft your business brand in a way that resonates with your target market. You’ll find your work attracts more attention, your programs and services will see increased enrollment and that bank account that was stressed building your business can now enjoy deposits.
Kimberly Ward Manning, MA, CLC, is an award-winning marketing mind and coach who helps visionary women create successful businesses and lives that integrate with the authentic expression of their voice and energy. Kim helps women entrepreneurs with their marketing, branding and business building — so that their business attracts clients, produces a generous income AND aligns with who they are. Learn more at http://www.IntegrativeLivingDesign.com
When we were discussing opening up our precious metals store, my partners and I usually got the same response – “Ewwww, you’re opening up a pawn shop?!“
Huh? Not even close. But the perception of most people towards businesses that buy and sell gold and silver bullion and jewelry, is one of suspicion. They may have never been to a pawn shop or second hand dealer (which is our legal designation}, but they have a negative perception.
So, when we opened the store, we installed a nice lobby area with new couches, a coffee table with books and magazines, an air spritzer to keep the joint smelling fresh.
Everyone that walks in the door gets offered a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and a lollipop. Our belief was that this would make women, in particular, feel more at ease.
For most guys, it doesn’t matter. They love the extensive security systems we’ve got, that are apparent, but not intrusive.
Most importantly, we actually make our customers feel like we want them there. Virtually all of our competitors have the, “I’ll get to you when I get to you” attitude.
How’s this strategy worked? We’ve gotten the “Best Of” award from the largest newspaper in our county every year we’ve been in business. Over 70% of our business is repeat or referral customers. It costs a lot of money to bring in new customers, so once we’ve got them, we never let go!
Treat people right, listen to what they want and need, and fill that need as best as you can.
The money will follow.