Sixteen years after I completed my work with a client named Phil he called me again. "The American Society of Quality is having a meeting," he said, and I'm the program chairman. I wonder if you'd be able to speak on "Making Your Job Secure in Insecure Times"? I gave the speech and got two new clients from people who heard me speak.
For sixteen years Phil had no reason to call me; then one day a career need popped up and my phone rings. How did he remember my phone number? The answer: My Newsletter.
The trick to building a successful private practice is to be the person "waiting in the wings," when a career need pops up. Especially when their job/career starts to hurt real bad! That's the "buying moment."
How can you show up at the very moment they say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!"?
Simple: just show up all the time! If you're there all the time, you won't miss your window of opportunity. By sending a newsletter each month you will remind people that you're "waiting patiently in the wings;" ready, willing, and able to solve their career problems.
You'll position yourself in your prospects' minds as the place to go when they (or someone they know) is in need. Then when the need hits - they know whom to call.
A word of caution, though, the newsletter must be done right or it will be seen as junk mail or spam.
Here's how NOT to do it: learn intricate desktop publishing software, design a fabulous logo, create lots of articles, typeset them in columns, make it four pages, use glossy paper, make an index on page one with teaser copy, and "knock the socks" off the reader with its excellence, beauty, form, symmetry, and comprehensiveness.
Why not? Because everyone will compliment you about how "great" it looks, but they may not be able to tell you what's in it. This newsletter needs to "digestible" in 1-3 minutes. Also, a fancy newsletter will become a chore. Pretty soon you'll do one only every other month, then you won't do it at all. Remember, keep it simple and make it no more than two pages. Make it look more like a personal letter than a magazine.
The key to getting a positive response is keeping the newsletter powerful, informative, and personal. Let's examine those three qualities.
Powerful. The information should be brief but very clear, practical, and useful. The type of information which, if readers put it into practice, they would immediately reap some powerful personal benefit. If they found this month's issue helpful, they'll read the next issue, too.
Informative. Not the same-old stuff about keeping a positive mental attitude. A fresh spin is needed.
Personal. Write from your heart. Include your own human side. (Think "Dick Bolles" -- he is a master of this type of communication.) Let your sense of humor show. Finally, include three other things:
People are worried, initially, about whether they can afford your help. So, make it easy for people to take the first step with a low cost introductory session. In this session you should promise to "get to the root of any career problem and make a practical plan to solve it." That way people realize that they don't need to sign up for hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars for career psychoanalysis, but can take a one-step "here's what to do next" session. [Want more info on this "fast start" session? Email me a request for C.A.P. Info at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I suggest your newsletter go out monthly, so when your prospect's boss piles on the straw that breaks the camel's back, and they say to themselves "I've got to make a change!" YOU WILL BE RIGHT THERE saying, "I can get to the root of any career problem and give you a plan to fix it."
Snailmail vs. email. Snail mail costs 50¢ a letter or more, still it is the preferred method and you'll get that investment back in new business. Why? Because at this time in cyber-history, people, in general, are more annoyed than delighted by email newsletters. Personally, I do both; send hard copy one month, and email the next.
Your newsletter will make the phone ring - how much business is that?
Let's conservatively say each client, on average, sees you 12 times, and pays you $80 a session. If your mailing list had only 365 people in it, and each one referred you just ONE person per year, your phone would ring 30 times a month. If 25% of those became clients, that's 7.5 new clients a month, or 90 new clients a year. Do the math, it comes out to $86,400 a year working only 21 billable hours week.
A newsletter can do that. Not too shabby, eh?
In honor of NCDA's 100th anniversary, Career Convergence is publishing articles of historical significance. This article and bio are reprinted from our debut issue in 2003.
Jack Chapman is author of "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute." He is a career consultant in private practice and runs ongoing support & training teleconference sessions for career consultants in private practice. He can be reached at 847-251-4727 or email@example.com
[For info about building your database of prospects, email a request for "home run speeches" to firstname.lastname@example.org.]