What often scares entrepreneurs launching their business the most is the question of “how to attract customers”?!
For ethical entrepreneurs – who launch their activity with the main objective of having a positive impact on society – “marketing” or “selling their services” often creates a sort of internal debate:
- I want to have customers… but I don’t want to have to “sell myself”
- I want my project to be successful… but without having to convince (in other words “manipulate”) anyone
- I want people to purchase my products/services… but without having to spend time on marketing/communication #yuck #notmything
Values such as benevolence, collaboration and equity, which happen to be very strong among ethical entrepreneurs, are actually too often associated with sales and marketing in general: to put oneself forward, compete, take money from poor-small-customers.
When combined with an introverted personality or the fact of not having any business experience, you may find yourself feeling rather uncomfortable when it comes to introducing your business…
The good news is that there are numerous ways to be commercially successful.
Taking part in various networking events with your business cards at hand or “prospecting” clients is far from mandatory!
This is only one of two types of marketing: PUSH versus PULL
As a strategy consultant for ethical entrepreneurs, I advise my clients to find the marketing style that best suits them. Most often, it is the PULL marketing strategy that is adopted: it allows to attract customers without having to prospect.
- Not only is it less tiring, but it’s also a lot more effective: whereas you have to make about a hundred phone calls to get a dozen prospects and transform 1 customer into a PUSH version (1% conversion rate), the PULL method allows you to interact exclusively with prospects who are already interested in your services and who have come to you on their own behalf (basically clients you did not have to “push”): on average, out of 10 prospects, you can land 4 to 8 customers (in other words, a conversion rate of 40% to 80%).
- Another strong argument for ethical entrepreneurs is that it also has a much greater impact. Although in PUSH marketing the people contacted and uninterested are a waste of time (for both sides), actions in PULL marketing that have an effect on people who don’t necessarily become customers, do however have a positive impact in terms of changing attitudes, market education, inspiration to take action…
This is why PULL marketing is also called “authentic marketing” (or “content marketing”): it’s about feeding your ecosystem and inspiring people who are ready to take action instead of “prospecting”.
So, how EXACTLY do you attract customers without prospecting, thanks to the PULL marketing strategy?!
There are 3 essential steps, which I describe in this article created in collaboration with Caroline Gaujour, Creators for Good’s favorite illustrator ;)
Step 1 – in order to have customers without having to prospect: Create inspiring content (free)
Firstly, the idea is to create inspiring content. This content is shared freely so as to provide access to as many people as possible to one’s expertise and allow interested parties to learn more about your unique approach.
The advantage is that nowadays with the Internet, it’s very easy to create content via your website (starting a blog, like the article you are currently reading!!, a podcast for those who would rather listen than read or even a Youtube channel).
It’s also very easy (and free!) to make your content visible to a large number of people who are potentially concerned thanks to social networks where you can very simply share your content (whether on your own personal page(s), but also in groups which bring together people who share a particular profile/interest).
By doing so, you can easily reach tens, hundreds or even thousands of people “in one go”. With Creators for Good, for example, several thousands of Internet users benefit from the content I publish on this blog every month. Even if I don’t have the capacity to offer my services to this many people at the same time, I at least have the satisfaction of being able to impact – even slightly – all of them and thus contribute positively to the growing ecosystem of sustainable entrepreneurship.
This applies to both online entrepreneurs and those who sell their services and products locally: if your customers use the Internet, then it’s a very good way to make yourself visible and useful to them.
My advice: Don’t hesitate to be very qualitative (the idea is for this content, despite being for free, to be of such high quality that it makes people want to know more! Whether they wish to share it, send the link to a potentially interested friend or simply say “Wow, if it’s already so inspiring despite being free, what must it be like when you’re actually a paying customer!!”).
Step 2 – in order to attract customers without having to prospect: Encourage your most motivated prospects to take one small step towards your offer (free)
The trap to avoid at all costs is to be tempted to talk about your services/products directly. Creating awesome quality content AND offering amazing services/products is great but it’s too early to speak about it “directly” (except for products at a very low price, and even then…).
Your potential customers are certainly impressed by the quality of your content, but they do not yet trust you. They first need to get to know you and also reassure themselves that the “transformation” you offer through your products or services is well and truly possible for “them”.
For this to happen, nothing could be easier: Encourage those who feel concerned to take a first “small step” which isn’t too binding and would allow them to “test” or learn more about your approach. This can occur in the form of a downloadable freebie (white paper, mini online course, checklist…)
The advantage of offering a freebie to your readers is to actually “filter” the people who are the most interested in your domain & approach. This allows you to draw a list of interested parties to whom you could then send some content by email (as long as you inform them when they register and give them the opportunity to unsubscribe easily ^^).
For Creators for Good, for example, I created two online courses for both types of clients: a 10-day email course on the Sustainable Business Model for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to be able to combine ethics and financial sustainability, as well as a 4-step video series “Pricing For Good” to set fair prices once and for all, for sustainable entrepreneurs who have already started their business but are struggling to earn a living.
Every day, and without me having to do something, a few dozen individuals sign up for my “freebies”: They receive my help free of charge and without it being time-consuming for me, get to know more about my method and personality, so I can then offer them other contents as well as offers adapted to their issue :)
Step 3 – in order to have customers without having to prospect: Encourage those who have already taken a small step to get even more involved (free + paid offer)
Now that you have made your expertise visible to people interested in your domain (step 1), and attracted a number of individuals in search of a solution and willing to take action (step 2), it’s time to turn your prospects into customers!
To do so, the ideal is to offer – always free of charge – to test your life-size solution: open days, test samples, free diagnosis, discovery workshop… there’s a format suitable for each activity!
The idea is to make your clients’ very first step towards action a lot easier by encouraging them to try out your approach or method.
For this format to be sustainable, it must be limited: in time, and/or in the number of beneficiaries. You can rely on the fact that 40% to 80% of the prospects who will make the effort to try out your solution will then decide to use your product or service: do not hesitate to offer it clearly at the end of the trial phase to those who seem to need it and to whom your solution corresponds to 100%!
For Creators for Good, for example, I offer 5 discovery sessions every month. Naturally, I use 5 hours of my time “pro-bono” (plus the money I pay to my assistant who organizes the logistics of these different appointments). But in exchange, I get to meet wonderful people who tell me about their entrepreneurial projects (which are often very inspiring – hence why I love what I do!!) and with whom I share my diagnosis of their activity.
On average, I tend to offer my mentoring services to 3 or 4 of them (I only do so if I am convinced that my services can sincerely help them!) and therefore land 2 to 3 new clients every month. This is in perfect alignment with my strategy and objectives (financial & impact), but of course, these figures have to be adapted to each individual’s business model (some companies need a few customers per year while others need hundreds every month!).
To conclude, you now know how Creators for Good attracts clients all the time, has new prospects who are interested and motivated on a very regular basis while inspiring (more broadly) thousands of individuals who are sensitive to the topic of ethical entrepreneurship :)
I truly hope that this insight is inspiring for your respective activities: do not hesitate to share your impressions or questions with me in the comments below!
Are you longing to apply to PULL marketing strategy but don’t yet know what sustainable business to launch?
Sign up for my free 10-day email course to define your own Sustainable Business Model and (finally!) structure your ideas!
Do you enjoy the concept of Pull marketing but your offer isn’t really sustainable?
Regain confidence in terms of your prices thanks to the free 4-step video series “Pricing For Good”: 4 videos to help you define your prices once and for all!
Solène is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Creators for Good.
She developed a methodology that allows Global Citizen to start and grow their own impactful businesses from anywhere in the world – and with no need for investors or government support.