I've talked a lot on this blog about “Value In Advance” marketing: building credibility and trust with potential clients by giving them some way of sampling what it is you do.
When I switched from more traditional forms of marketing (telling people how great I am) to Value In Advance marketing (demonstrating it instead) I saw a huge turnaround in the number of qualified, high quality leads I was generating.
And when I discuss this strategy with professionals they can all see how effective it can be – in theory.
But they often highlight a number of barriers that they think will prevent them from adopting the strategy.
Perhaps you're thinking of these too.
The first is that they don't know what to create as a “lead magnet” to share with potential clients.
The second is that they don't think they have the expertise: they're good at what they do but don't consider themselves thought leaders.
The third is that they don't have the time to create their lead magnet (or they're just not good at writing).
What to create as a Lead Magnet.
In summary, the key is to brainstorm the typical challenges your clients have (that you can help with) and identify what I call the “first speedbump” in their journey to solving them.
So if you're a leadership coach, for example, you might decide that the first thing your clients need to do is build their own confidence before working on specific leadership skills.
Focus your lead magnet on this first speedbump – it'll be the most pressing issue on the minds of the biggest number of your potential clients.
But I'm not a Thought Leader.
Putting aside the fact that “thought leader” is such a misused phrase these days it's become meaningless – the truth is that you don't need to be the world's leading expert on a topic to produce something of genuine value to your potential clients.
You do need to know your stuff. You can't just make it up or be “one week ahead” of your clients.
But almost every professional I speak to has significant knowledge of great value to their potential clients.
Most of out clients don't need or want to know the latest leading edge theories in your field.
They want simple, practical ideas that will get them results.
That's what you should focus your lead magnet on.
I'm not good at writing and I just don't have the time.
Although a written report is the most common format for a lead magnet – it's far from the only one – or even the most effective one.
And there are far less time-consuming ways of developing a lead magnet.
A series of short bullet point tips can be hugely useful to clients, for example.
If you do work that's visual or online, you can record a “screen cast” of you at work (for example, creating a sales letter if you're a copywriter) and commenting on what and why you're doing it.
If you do design work, do a critique of 5 good and 5 bad designs in your field (e.g. websites) and write that up (or again, make a screen recording of you doing it online).
Make an audio or video recording of your thoughts on a speciic topic. It doesn't have to be word perfect – as long as the content is solid.
So please, don't let these barriers stand in the way of implementing this hugely powerful marketing approach.