Did you know it’s at least five times more expensive to acquire new customers than to sell to current ones? While marketing to and booking new clients is often necessary, our primary goal as creative entrepreneurs should arguably be delivering value to our existing customers. In other words, we need to focus less on chasing after the next big sale and more on serving clients from the heart so we can give them an incredible experience—and encourage them to keep working with us. So, how can you build loyalty with your existing customers and stay top of mind with prospects in your community?
Well, Jen Szpigiel has plenty of great advice for maintaining relationships with your clients while being helpful to and authentic with your followers. Jen has built a career out of forming intentional connections with her customers as they grow and scale their businesses. She is a wife, a mother of four, the founder of Becoming Iconic, a business mentor, and the host of the Becoming Iconic podcast. Her mission is to help entrepreneurs, especially women, build profitable and aligned businesses.
What does it mean to build a profitable & “aligned” business?
Of course, we all want to make a profit in our work, but what does it mean to have “alignment” in your business? And, how can you set yourself apart as more than just another creative entrepreneur in a particular field? Well, Jen would encourage you to find alignment by seeking fulfillment in both your business and your life, then taking the time to look inward for unique ideas that you can share with the world. She explains each of these concepts in this episode:
1. Seek fulfillment in your business & life.
In this episode of Priority Pursuit, Jen explains several ways creative entrepreneurs can seek fulfillment in both their business and personal lives. While I highly recommend listening to the full episode via the audio at the top of this page or wherever you listen to podcasts, in this section, we do want to detail a couple of Jen’s strategies.
When it comes to fulfillment and prosperity in her life (both at work and home), Jen focuses on five pillars: health, wealth, relationships, business, and spirituality. She suggests taking time every day to ask yourself, “Have I done three things today to work toward prosperity?”
For example, perhaps you were present with your children as they told you about their day at school, so you strengthen your relationships with them. Or, maybe you finally connected with a dream client and get to work with them, so you’ve had a business-related success. Whatever pillars you decide to focus on each day, Jen would encourage you to become better today than yesterday—in other words, work toward the best version of yourself!
2. Look inward for unique ideas & inspiration.
Many creative entrepreneurs feel frustrated when they’re stuck in a rut, but they see others in their industry putting out unique and beautiful work. However, Jen reminds us that someone else’s success doesn’t make you a failure! You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do everything exactly like everyone else in your industry. “To want to do something just like somebody else is doing robs the world of your greatness,” Jen tells us.
Rather than comparing your business to another professional’s—which only leads to that panicked feeling we mentioned earlier—Jen recommends taking a step back to realize what you bring to the table. While it’s great to follow other professionals for educational and inspirational purposes, try building on what you’ve learned to create something unique.
For example, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer who admires another photog’s style. Instead of trying to copy her exact lighting and angles, see how you can use that inspiration to play with your own photos’ lighting while reflecting on (and then showcasing) your signature posing and details. Not only will you be respecting her work, but you’ll also be taking unique and refined photos because you’ve relied on your skills and knowledge to deliver even more value for your clients.
How can creative entrepreneurs create waitlists & lifelong clients?
By connecting with your customers and focusing on your unique talents, you can start to build a profitable and aligned business. But, how does that translate into getting more prospects on your waitlist and booking more lifelong clients? Well, according to Jen, you can grow your community and find long-term customers by:
- Selling with purpose and building relationships
- Giving every client an exceptional experience
- Being grateful toward your clients and community
1. Sell with purpose & build relationships.
Jen explains that when you’re selling with purpose, you’re simply being present with clients and serving them from the heart as you help them find a solution to their situation. While making sales is obviously critical to your business’s success, so is building and maintaining relationships with your customers so they can take comfort in knowing they’re a priority to you. After all, when people know that you genuinely care about them (and not just their money), they’ll want to work with you!
According to Jen, you’ll form better connections with your clients when you’re honest, passionate, and confident in every interaction with them. “We all have the capacity and the call to be the fullest, most beautiful versions of ourselves,” she tells us. By showing up as your authentic self, you’ll be able to create trust with your customers and help them feel confident in working with you.
2. Give every client an exceptional experience.
It’s all too easy to compare yourself to others in your industry who are booking clients left and right while your calendar remains emptier than you’d like. And, you may be tempted to keep chasing after new customers instead of focusing on (and being grateful for) the ones you already have. However, Jen repeats how important it is to take care of your current clients and respect them. “How you treat people matters!” she tells us.
Most of Jen’s business comes from lifelong clients, and she’s very grateful to have strong relationships with each of them (AKA she’s focused on quality over quantity when it comes to customer connections). When you prioritize impacting others’ lives more than making tons of money, you won’t feel the need to obsess over how much you’re earning or how many clients you have. In fact, if you give your client incredible service and make them feel valued, they just might want to work with you over and over again.
3. Be grateful to your clients & community.
Jen tells us that respecting customers and creating connections with them is always the best path to take—even when they decide to no longer work with you. “It matters just as much how you end a relationship with a client as how you start it,” she says. A simple “Thank you so much for working with me, and I wish you the best!” will go a long way in showing gratitude and letting your client know you have no hard feelings over their going in a different direction professionally.
Even if a customer stops working with you, they’re still a valuable member of your community of “heartbeats.” (Jen explains that she prefers the term “heartbeats” to followers because people actively choose to stay on her platforms to learn; they’re not just blindly scrolling or following her.) The same goes for “heartbeats” who never become paying customers but still engage with your content and trust you as an expert in your field. While these community members may not be a source of income, they’re still supporting you and your business—and that’s something else to be grateful for!
How can creatives serve their current clients & “heartbeats” (followers) well?
Telling your customers and community that you’re grateful for them is essential, but your actions will speak even louder than your words. When you show up authentically (and consistently) for your “heartbeats” and take your client responsibilities seriously, the people in your sphere of influence will be able to trust you even more. Jen explains how we can serve our clients and community to the best of our abilities:
1. Show up authentically & consistently.
One of Jen’s least favorite expressions is “Fake it til you make it.” In other words, she doesn’t believe in always putting on a happy face when she appears on social media, no matter what’s happening in her life. Jen prefers to be honest with her “heartbeats” when she’s going through a difficult situation, or if she needs a break from social media for a day. She explains that your community can support you even more if you’re showing up as your authentic self.
Now, Jen reminds us that social media is not the place to process divorces, deaths in the family, and so on—a therapist or a trusted friend is a more appropriate outlet. But, you can teach through the painful experience by sharing what you’ve learned from the experience with your community. For example, if your loved one has passed away, you can tell stories about her from your childhood, or remind your “heartbeats” to tell their family and friends often how much they love them. Jen also suggests hiring a social media writer or a virtual assistant (if your budget allows) to help you serve your community while you take the time to step back and process difficult situations. This will not only allow you to share (and honor) your authentic self, but also communicate consistently with your “heartbeats” instead of disappearing for days or weeks.
2. Take your client responsibilities seriously.
Just as showing up for your community is necessary for maintaining relationships, delivering a valuable product or service for your clients is critical for your business’s success. Jen reminds us that by booking a customer, you’re promising them a specific result or solution that you’re on the hook for providing. “You have a responsibility to follow through on the very thing you said you would do,” she says.
Jen tells us a story that highlights how not doing so damaged a relationship. Her interior design client had hired a photographer who kept canceling on her, then took her to the site of the photo shoot without reserving the spot! As a customer, the interior design professional was frustrated with the photographer’s poor service, and she was no longer interested in maintaining a relationship with him.
According to Jen, the photographer’s line of thinking was backwards; you shouldn’t charge a lot to do as little as possible! Instead, she suggests asking yourself, “What can I charge that feels good for the client and me, and how can I make this experience extraordinary?” Remember, your goal is to serve your customers well and be able to work with them for years to come. By delivering the service and experience you’ve promised your client, he or she will respect how seriously you’ve taken this project—and, he or she may want to keep working with you!
What common mistakes do creative entrepreneurs make that cost them customers, & how can they avoid those mistakes?
Jen often sees entrepreneurs chasing the next thing (like a “better” sale) versus being grateful for what they already have. For example, let’s say only two people sign up for your master class when you were anticipating a turnout of 100 students. While it would be natural to feel disappointed, Jen explains that canceling the class in pursuit of a “better” sale (AKA more students) would crush the two students’ ambition and spirits. After all, they trusted you enough to pay for the class, and they’re excited to work on themselves and gain new skills.
Rather than canceling the class and pushing for more signups, Jen suggests showing those two students how grateful you are that they signed up and sharing plenty of valuable information and skills with them. Jen asks, “What if you gave them the most exceptional experience of their lifetime?” Imagine how much you could teach your students—and how much intentional time you could spend with each of them—in a smaller class. Your students might be so impressed with your service that they sign up for more classes or refer additional clients your way!
Friend, I hope this conversation with Jen has inspired you to start selling with purpose and putting your heart and soul into connecting with clients! By focusing more on building relationships—and showing up authentically—than constantly making sales, your customers and “heartbeats” will notice and appreciate it. At the end of the day, when you treat people with kindness and respect (no matter how much or how little they’re paying you), they’ll want to be around you. It’s that simple!
Want to hear more?
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Subscribe to the Becoming Iconic Magazine (Print or Digital)
- Listen to Becoming Iconic on Apple Podcasts
- Listen to Becoming Iconic on Spotify
- Listen to Becoming Iconic on Stitcher
- Receive 50% Off Your First Order with Photographer’s Edit
- Join the Priority Pursuit Facebook Community
- Follow or DM Victoria on Instagram