Burn-out and the search for new clients

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein

Dear Niche Doctor,

I’ve been a real estate agent for nearly 25 years and have weathered every up and down in the economy, even our most recent near disaster. Despite the erratic nature of our business, I’ve done well. Some would say very well. I have a solid personal financial portfolio with no financial worries of my own. So what’s the problem? I’m really worn out and don’t like the idea of going to work anymore – at least not doing what I’m doing. I think I’m burned out. The real issue is I don’t have a clue what I’d do if I weren’t selling houses, even if I don’t enjoy the process anymore. This is all I know. Help!

First off, we need to get something cleared up. Real estate isn’t all you know. It’s a lot, but not all. Given how tired and likely bored you are with where you are now, I suggest you get started with your transition pronto. It strikes me that after all those years in the trenches along with your great track record, that you’ve got some valuable information that could be very useful to your colleagues in real estate and other service professions. My guess is you could give some powerful and practical advice that would help others come closer to achieving the same kind of success you have achieved, even in rotten economies. I’m suggesting that you are a perfect candidate for consulting and teaching; for helping others with the knowledge you’ve learned through experience. That wisdom you’ve accumulated over the years (and that you probably take for granted) can make all the difference to those yearning for their own success in today’s world. You have the keys. I hope you will consider helping others open their own doors to success and prosperity, as well.

Dear Niche Doctor,

We are a young, local startup. In essence, we are visual designers of interactive media for mobile platforms. Our platform is so easy to use, you’d think everyone would want to go digital and mobile, but the issue is our platform can do too much. When we talk with local magazines they are happy with PDF versions of their media. Our platform, however, makes media come alive through interactivity and could really help them. How do we find clients who “get it?” What do you suggest?

Thanks for your important question. I definitely have a few tips for you. First, the issue isn’t that your platform can do too much. It’s that you aren’t making clear to your prospective clients how your widget can help them solve their perceived problems. So, an obvious question: Do you know what they perceive to be their issues?

People rarely make a significant change when they feel comfortable, and the people you’re talking about sound quite satisfied with their status quo. The first thing I suggest you consider is giving them a hands-on experience – maybe a by-invitation-only private seminar or webinar? An actual hands-on experience (not just talk) could be quite effective.

Secondly, in addition to you “finding” clients, it’s even better when they find you. So, how does this happen? You should be having stories about your work show up in trade and professional publications that your clients read. Maybe your own column? The question is, do you know what they read? Do you go to their conferences, whether on-site or online? I tell my own clients they need to go where their clients live – sometimes that means geography. It always means where they live inside themselves. You need to know your prospective clients’ goals, ambitions and perceived problems. Once you know those, you are set to help them get there. Most importantly, you have the essential raw material for your own marketing; the kind of marketing that gets the right clients calling you up – and lots of them.

Dear Niche Doctor,

I’m a lawyer here in town and getting sick of people expecting me to give them free advice. Sometimes I feel like telling them I work at Nordstrom and let it go at that. I doubt that they would expect me to give them anything from there free! Your suggestions for avoiding being pillaged for free advice would be much appreciated.

My answer is simple: Shut your mouth, smile and say, “You know, that’s a really important question. So important, in fact, that I don’t feel comfortable answering it here over wine and cheese. I suggest you give me a call Monday and schedule a professional appointment, so we can address this fully.”

Do this and at least two good things will happen. First, you’ll be done dishing out free advice and secondly, you’ll have converted a nuisance into a paying client.

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein is a business consultant and author of NICHECRAFT: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market, and Make Customers Seek You Out. To contact her with questions or comments, email DrNiche@vbjusa.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 503.781.0966. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal and Dr. Niche reserve the right to publish your letter or an edited version in all print and electronic media.

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