In my Elevate online business training program, one strategy I often recommend is to take on a Beta Client—this is a practice client you can take on pro bono, or for a small fee. The point of a Beta Client is to introduce your services out in the real world, and generate word-of-mouth referrals.
Taking on a Beta Client might not be for everyone, but if you’re just starting out, it can be a great way to get the word out about your business fast. And implementing this strategy during the slow holiday period could prove to pay off in the new year with a few new clients. Here’s how to get started…
I’ve found that the fastest way to attract paying clients still comes down to good old-fashioned referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. So, first, I recommend that you ask your friends, family, community, former colleagues, etc. if they know of anyone who may be interested in your services—and that you’re looking for new clients at an introductory or “referral rate”. Here’s an example…
Let’s say Lisa the nutritionist just started her own private practice and is looking to snag a few new clients. A smart first step for Lisa would be to send an email to everyone in her circle, announcing that her services are now available, and right now, she’s offering her services at a special introductory, or “referral rate”. Lisa would explain that in return for her reduced-fee service, she will be asking for referrals, assuming the client is satisfied with her work.
The point is you want to get out there and have people experience what you do or offer, so more people can hear about you. Don’t underestimate your immediate network—you’d be surprised who knows who, and just how happy people are to help connect you with the right people.
Going back to our example, let’s say Lisa gets a lot of bites, especially if she offers her service for free. How does she pick who to work with, and who to decline? (She certainly shouldn’t book her entire schedule up working for free).
The KEY for Lisa, and for you, is to narrow down your beta clients into only those people who fit your target market. Who are the people who will be able to pay for your services eventually, or connect you with the people who will happily pay for your services? And who will connect you to people who will happily spread the word about your services? Using these standards, you should be able to easily cull the optimal people to take on as beta clients. To start, I recommend you aim for 3 beta clients.
Before you contact any potential beta clients, make sure you take note, because there are 3 KEY pieces to making this work for you…
The first part of the deal you negotiate with your beta clients is that they will give you feedback over the phone for about 10 to 20 minutes on a regular basis.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask them:
*What benefits/results have you experienced from working with me?
*What’s working (and not working) in my services?
*How can I make what I do truly extraordinary?
*How would you describe my services to a friend or colleague?
Getting feedback from a beta client can give you surprising insight into how your service is perceived on the outside. Oftentimes, we as business owners are so inside of our product/service that it’s difficult to narrow it down to the essence of what benefit we truly offer. Your beta clients can be a very valuable resource for you, especially when you’re first starting out.
Second, you also want to ask your clients for a testimonial. Let’s assume they were satisfied with your work. You can ask them to write up one with specific parameters—something results focused, that includes numbers, clear benefits, etc. You could even ask them to record an audio testimonial, or invite them to shoot a video testimonial.
It always helps to give people a template to follow, so they can just plug in the information that you want. In Lisa’s case, she might want to send her beta clients a few template testimonials, like these:
“After working with Lisa, I was able to shed [XX] pounds in [XX] months. I have more [energy, confidence, radiance, etc.] than I did before. Thanks Lisa!”
“What I love about Lisa is that she gives you the [confidence, tools, plan] to easily achieve your weight loss goals. I was able to lose [XX] pounds in [XX] months!”
Finally, what you want to make clear is that you’re giving them a discounted rate or free service at what we call the “referral price” in exchange for them offering a few referrals. Obviously, this is assuming that that they are satisfied with what you have provided them. If they are, you both can agree on a set number of referrals. I recommend asking for three.
Your script for this can be quite simple. You could say, “I really enjoyed working with you and I’m thrilled to hear that you are satisfied. As you know, I’m just starting my business, and would love it if you could tell a few friends about my business. Can you think of 3 people in your circle whom you think would be a good fit for what I offer? I’d appreciate it!”
Following the steps above will get the ball rolling for you in your business. But don’t rely on these methods alone! While you’re contacting these referrals, fine-tuning your services, and generating new testimonials, you should be putting into action other marketing methods to continually build your business.
QUESTION: Do you have experience working with a Beta Client? What were the pros and cons? Would love to hear you share your experiences—and any of your favorite client-building strategies below.
© 2012 Ali International LLC
“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com”