When Nothing Seems to Be Working

Jan 11, 2022

You're working day in and day out, doing all the things you've been told you need to do to build your business, but nothing seems to be working. I've been there, and it normally comes down to this simple thing that's so foundational but often overlooked.

 Hey there, and welcome to the Client Attractor Show. I'm your host, Jacob Ratliff, client attraction coach and author of the brand new book Client Attractor. If you haven't gotten your copy of Client Attractor yet, you can go to a clientattractorbook.com to get your free copy today. 

In today's episode, I am going to be talking a little bit about one of the biggest mistakes I made when I was first starting my business. This was a mistake that was ultimately the reason that a lot of the things I was doing, even though I was working really hard, weren't actually working. To start off, we actually have to go back well before I started my business to start to see the root of this problem. 

The health and wellness company I began my career working for had been around for 20 years by the time I came on board, and what that meant is that they had a long and really impressive track record of getting results for their customers and clients. By the third month working for them, my boss was actually in love with me. She was really impressed by the copy I was writing, the email sequences I was designing, and the new marketing campaigns that I was suggesting. She gave me a massive amount of agency to really experiment with all kinds of different strategies and tactics, and somehow, almost everything I did seemed to get results. 

One of the most memorable projects I worked on was a four-day campaign focused on promoting and selling their online course. I was convinced the campaign would be a flop, but my boss pushed me to give it a shot anyway. The day the campaign launched, I nervously checked the results, the sales numbers, every 15 minutes, and each time I checked, the numbers kept going up. After the second day of the launch, I looked at the sales numbers again, and I couldn't believe my eyes. The campaign had brought in $20,000 over the past two days. Some of the campaigns I worked on in that job performed better than others, of course, but none of them was such a big flop that I was ashamed to show my face in the office. 

Did I have a golden marketing finger that just turned everything I touched into new sales, or was it just beginner's luck? I started asking those questions even more fervently. Several years later, when I left that position to start my own business, I knew the ins and outs of selling online, and I was champing at the bit to get started. So when I sat down to work on my business, to build those key elements that would bring me clients, I jumped straight to doing what I knew best: email sequences, lead magnets, Facebook ads, website building, all those things that we’re told we should be doing if we want to have a real business. 

As I got into the weeds of building everything out, though, it kind of started to feel like I was pulling teeth. Everything I had to do felt 10 times harder than it had been when I'd done the exact same thing in the past for my previous employer. At my old job, I could turn out a lead magnet and an email sequence in one or two days, but doing it for my own business somehow felt impossible. When I did manage to finish something, to publish that lead magnet campaign or to build out an email sequence, I only heard crickets in response. Was it just luck after all, or had that golden marketing finger simply faded? 

What I slowly discovered was that the answer was neither; rather, something else was missing. The questions I had answered so instinctually at my old job were unusually difficult when it came to my own business, questions like what topic a lead magnet should be, how a landing page should be designed, how marketing emails should be phrased, and how copies should be written. I was lost, honestly, but not because I didn't know how to do the things. 

In fact, the problem had nothing to do with my marketing skill set. It was simply because I didn't understand my ideal client and my offer and my niche well enough to create a lead magnet for that niche, much less an entire email sequence. I had a vague idea that I was going to help entrepreneurs with their marketing, but that was pretty much as far as I had gotten. My understanding of ideal clients stopped at “entrepreneur” and “small business owner,” and my understanding of what I was offering them stopped at “marketing.”

That's all I had to go off of, so of course I couldn't build out an effective marketing funnel. Sure, I had built funnels like this in my previous job, but in that case, I was working from a rock-solid foundation that had been created and fine tuned well before they brought me on board. Their foundation was a crystal clear understanding of their offer and who that offer was for, which had been established 20 years ago and continually evolved ever since. It took me a really long time to really grasp this concept, and when I finally created this foundation for my own business, it immediately felt as though it had switched gears on a bicycle and made that pedaling infinitely easier. 

The resistance was suddenly gone. I was suddenly creating more effective content, having more and better conversations with prospective clients, and bringing on more clients than ever before, all because I really just took the time to create that foundation. Whether you're starting your business, or if you've been sharing your expertise for decades, it really comes down to the fact that if you don't have that solid foundation in place, your business is not going to succeed. 

Your business's foundation really only consists of four things: something to sell, someone to sell to, a way to sell it, and a way to deliver it. That's all there is to it, but the key is that while you need that solid foundation, it also has to remain flexible. One of the biggest benefits of growing a client-based business is that every experience you have is an opportunity to improve that foundation. Every strategy session or free consultation is an opportunity to get real-time feedback on your ideal client’s pain points. Every client you work with is yet another guinea pig for improving your process and practice. And yes, every client, even if you've been coaching for a decade. 

But before your foundation can evolve in that way, though, you have to have somewhere to start; you have to have a foundation before it can actually evolve. This foundation is the place where I begin working with all of my clients, again, whether they're brand new in their business or they've been in business for 10 years. And from both sides of that, I do get a lot of resistance. People who are brand new to their business are saying, “Well, I'm scared to niche down,” or, “You know, I really don't know what it is,” whereas people who've been in business for 10 years are saying, “Listen, I've got that foundation figured out. I really, really don't need to spend any more time or energy on that.” And in both of those cases, it's especially important to take that time to really focus on the core aspects of your business. 

Sometimes, you are taking a whole lot of time to build it from the ground up, and other times, you have to take a little bit less time, but it's more about that fine tuning and evolving your business's core components. For example, I recommend that every entrepreneur, every coach, every consultant, sit down every three months to revisit their ideal client and their offer so that they can continue to evolve it. 

I do this too. For example, my signature coaching program I have been running for about three years now. The way that that program looks now is entirely different than what it looked like when I first launched it three years ago. In fact, there are pretty significant differences between what it looks like now and what it looked like six months ago, and that's because I am constantly incorporating feedback from clients, from prospective clients, from ideal clients, and continuing to improve that foundation, so that in 20 years, every time I bring a new employee on, they can have that same experience that I had in that health and wellness club where I began my career. 

So if you're in this place where nothing you're doing seems to be working and everything you're doing feels a bit like pulling teeth, chances are that it's a problem with your business's core foundation. Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of Client Attractor. If you want to grab a copy of the book, you can get your free copy at clientattractorbook.com. All you have to do is pay shipping, and we'll get that out to you right away. Until then, I will see you tomorrow.

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