Inbox Chronicles – How to attract better clients?

Begin with the ground you stand upon
Sower with Setting Sun – by Vincent Van Gogh 


The Inbox Chronicles is a new blog category where I take an email I have sent in response to a question that has been asked by a peer or client. My hope is this gives readers some insight into my process, world view, and guiding values.

Today’s email is in response to a conversation that was sparked by a prompt in Seth Godin’s ForwardLink community about psychographics in marketing and how paying attention to them can help us sort and choose our clients. Demographics, which include surface-level qualities in a target audience, such as age, location, income, and marital status, don’t reveal the deeper wishes and pain points my clients need help with. It is much more effective (and difficult) to target psychographics, which include the world view and desired shifts in perception of status, confidence, and outcomes real human beings need help with.

QUESTION FROM A FELLOW TRAVELER: I’m wondering more about how your psychographics work. How you keep track yourself (are they just written traits? do you have some kind of scoring? how do you expand/refine over time?) And how do you share them with clients? I love the concept – and it’s made me curious to understand the mechanics more.*

Thanks so much for your questions. I went on a bit of a riff here, which has been time very well spent for me to clarify the way I think about my approach.

When it comes to attracting my best clients, my approach isn’t mechanical, it’s more practice-driven. Perhaps you will see a system or mechanics behind what I’m about to share – I’m looking forward to hearing how this lands for people. For me, it’s been a practice that continues to be influenced by teachers across a variety of disciplines –  Seth Godin, meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg, as well as philosophers, artists, storytellers, and poets such as Alain de Botton, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mike Monteiro, Terry Gilliam, Marshall Ganz, Mary Poppins, and Benjamin Zander. (And that’s just a handful!) Every person I have met or whose work I’ve seen or read has had a hand in influencing my current way of being. In this sense, yes, it changes over time. My vision of the people I seek to serve is always in process because the landscape we are operating in is constantly evolving. The basic values, however, remain pretty constant.

I’ve used the phrase, way of being, a few times in my comments in the forum this morning. Getting clear on who you wish to be in the world is key. How do you consistently show up for clients now? Do certain types of clients make it difficult for you to act consistently because they don’t share your values and drive you batty? Run for the hills because your ability to show up consistently is paramount. Trust is the result of consistency. And part of being consistent is saying no as often as is required for you to stay true to your values, which is the ground you stand upon.

None of us are perfect. I certainly am not and neither are my clients. Relationships are hard, which is why developing the skill of empathy and the attitudes which nurture its emergence are so important. Being in business is, I believe, a path which is self-revealing, and by that I mean there are myriad opportunities to see our bumps and bruises. We witness our confused and unskillful egos.

What I described above is a practice that helps me, using your words, “keep track of myself.” It’s a path of personal growth through which I become more aware of how the quality of how I show up impacts the quality of the clients who are drawn to me.

We all must make money to survive, so doing a radical turn of the table and refusing work from the not so great clients, at least for now, may not be prudent. Food needs to be put on the table and we all have responsibilities on multiple levels. Adjusting one’s inner compass is the first and most important step. The inner compass is the ground of motivation and everything sown into it will reap a harvest that rhymes with it.

Furthermore, as a human being walking through a world that is literally on fire, I have a responsibility to do what I can within my tiny spheres of influence to commit myself to serving individuals and organizations who are bending the curve towards beauty. We influence that curve one intention at a time, one conversation at a time, and one project at a time. Each action, both skillful and unskillful, is destined to ripple out. At first, the ripples feel insignificant and, quite likely, imperceptible. This is where a quality of faith in what is just and an attitude of trust in what matters most kicks into gear. You take a stand and plant your flag in the fertile soil of your vision and values.

If what you do–your craft–offers real solutions for real people, you will find your people. But the boulder of inertia has to move. Action first: curiosity, testing, experimenting and trusting what emerges. Believe what you see and feel and make accommodations. We may not have control of our circumstances but the pigment of today’s action has a way of staining the next action. So pull out your brush, crack open a tube of paint, risk making a brushstroke, and see what happens.

To act, to fly, requires two wings, not one. Knowledge is one wing, and the other is love.

What are your thoughts? What is your next and most natural step to create the ripple effect you want? How will you go about discovering the ripples your clients want?

“Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.”

– John O’Donohue,
To Bless the space between us: A Book of Blessings

PS … to answer your question about how I share my approach to sorting and choosing clients, please see a copy of my answer over on my website. 🙂

*Note: I will share my original concept in a follow-up post  

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