Tl;tbtr: (too long; too busy to read):
If you’re on the phone right now with a client while washing a softball uniform needed for this afternoon, here’s the summary:
- Everything you present to the public can prequalify leads
- Branding is pre-qualification
- Be intentional as you present yourself
- Think about how to attract your perfect client AND how to repel those you don’t want
When you think about qualifying prospective customers, you’re probably thinking about a list of questions that you need to ask. Whether it’s a form, a quiz, or a phone interview, this interrogation is what most folks focus on. But, there’s a lot more you can do to weed out the folks that aren’t going to be a good fit for you.
Remember – this saves you time and saves the leads from frustration. It’s good for both of you.
This article lists some of the more passive ways to pre-qualify leads. I really don’t like to use the word passive here because you still have to do the work. You’re just doing the work on your own time, not at the time demand of the leads. You have to set up and monitor, but the systems you build interact with the leads. Asynchronous work is more accurate, but “passive” gives you a better idea about what’s happening and why you would want to set this up.
Essentially, everything you present to the public starts qualifying business leads. As I was writing this, I realized that everything I’m saying could also apply to branding. A consciously-branded business is constantly qualifying leads.
AND, if you’re still working on your branding (as I am at the writing of this post), thinking about lead qualification can help you zero in on your branding. Cool.
Look & Feel of Your Website
(and all your digital assets, your printed material, etc)
The colors you use on your website do more than look pretty. Color has a definitely psychology that you can use to convey impressions of your business. But, even beyond that, you can use color to signal to the people you want to attract. Or, you can use it to repel.
The most obvious is when you want to work with someone feminine. Clearly not all women like pink. BUT, if you use a soft pink throughout your site, in the US you will be signaling that your ideal client is a woman. Men we generally get it that they’re not the target. This doesn’t mean that you must use pink if you have a women-centered business. It means that you need to think about who would be attracted and who would be repelled by the colors you use on your site.
The images you use are also qualifying signals. For example, if your coffee shop uses images of purple-haired 20-somethings all working on iPad Pros, your grandmother may disqualify herself and pick another place for her book club meeting. (Clearly, again, this is a generalization and depends on your grandmother.)
Words and Copy
As you write copy for the public, for your website, for printed materials, don’t forget about your audience. Would you audience like formal language or relaxed? Would a few four letter words sprinkled around turn away the folks you don’t want? (or the ones you do??) It takes a while to find your voice, and then after that, your brand’s voice. But you can pay attention to the basic tone and use of language right away.
For example, I’m not a natural writer, and I can see that comes through. But I’m giving it a try and since that’s what I encourage my clients to do, I think it’s okay for now. I also don’t cuss too much in real life since I’m a mom and other moms really frown on that around their kids. So, it doesn’t happen much in my writing either, since I’m writing for other moms.
Instructions on your Website
I notice this a lot when I visit other sites. Make sure your instructions (for whatever you want a site visitor to do) fit the audience you want. If you only want web- & tech- savvy leads, it’s fine to use industry jargon and give only a few high-level instructions. The non-technical folks won’t be able to understand or follow the instructions you’ve given.
The opposite is even more true. If you run a service for a non-tech-savvy group, write instructions that both your mom and your kid could follow. Don’t leave off any steps that “should be obvious” because to a non-technical audience, they may not be obvious.
The Way You Dress
I almost hate to include this one. Because I tend to dress like a 12 year old boy – lots of t-shirts. I’m working on being more intentional when I leave the house though because I know it reflects on my business and there are leads that I want who wouldn’t work with me if I looked unprofessional. When you take head shots and photos for your website and social media, think about who would be attracted & repelled.
Be intentional when you include testimonials with pictures on your site. You want your ideal leads to see the testimonial and think, “that’s a business like mine!” And you want the wrong folks to see the testimonial and wonder, “Who are these people? This is clearly not for me!”
Lead magnet or freebie
I believe a lead magnet or the freebie that you exchange for a lead’s email address should not only be useful to that person, but useful to you as well. Make the lead magnet do a little qualification work.
First, make your offer appealing only to your target client. But, then, make the lead magnet itself filter out folks that would not be right for you. It could be a quiz, it could be a checklist of things that the wrong client would never do (and therefore won’t contact you), or it could even include your ideal client requirements on the info page of a booklet or guide.
I like the idea of having pricing on your website because it too is a qualification signal. If you can’t give specific pricing, you can give a range or a starting point. This helps you and the potential lead. You will save time – fewer tire-kickers. And the lead won’t waste time investigating a service only to be disappointed they can’t afford it when they finally hear the price.
Social media platform choices
I know it’s cool to be everywhere, but there are hundreds of social media platforms. The ones you use signal something about who you’re looking for. Invest strongly in a few platforms where you know you’ll find your ideal clients. Then, you can post to a few more if you have the extra time or money to hire. But avoid the platforms preferred by the people you don’t want.
For example, I’m getting started with FB and Pinterest because I know business owning moms hang out there. I’ll probably add Instagram and YouTube and perhaps Twitter. But, I’m unlikely to use TicTok or Snapchat.
A big lesson for me
As I was writing and thinking about this, I realize all the work (at least at the writing of this post) that will need to be done in the coming weeks and months. Personally, I’ve started with a Project Planning Worksheet, designed to save me time and my clients time. I’ve added a tiny bit of styling to my website, but I realized I need to write more and work with even more people before I can make better decisions. And most of all, I need to up my wardrobe game!
I think this is going to be an ongoing process for me. And that’s okay. I hope this helps you to start thinking strategically about how you can pre-qualify the leads that come into your business. You’re so busy already, you don’t need to spend time with leads who are never going to be a good fit for you.