Robust Client Relationships Can Start with a Tiny Project
For years, our agency declined to accept clients unwilling to commit to a minimum budget we stipulated.
But one day, we realized some of our best clients began their relationships with us before we imposed a minimum—and they often began with a modest initial engagement. So we stopped imposing minimum-budget requirements on clients who wanted to dip an exploratory toe into their options with our agency. Removing that barrier proved to be one of our better decisions.
Working with a marketing and web development agency can require a substantial investment. Why not let new clients get to know us with a low-budget/low-risk project, then let them set the pace?
As a small business owner, that’s what I’d want to do!
We call our set-your-own-pace approach Footpath Marketing. It’s a low-risk opportunity for new clients to get to know our team, get a feel for our services, and decide whether they’d like to move forward with our other offerings.
As professional marketers know, the first sale is the hardest to make; it is also the riskiest step for clients as they make the initial decision to hire us. For clients who want to start slowly, a footpath is a small initial engagement that lets them do just that.
We devote as much energy and care to our small jobs as we do to the big ones, allowing those new clients to see the value we provide. As we take care of them, many clients return, again and again.
There’s psychology at play here: We all gain trust in a brand each time we complete a transaction with satisfaction. But there’s more: Easing into a relationship with our agency makes clients comfortable. And why wouldn’t we want to put new clients at ease?
A footpath accomplishes several things, including:
- Building trust
- Affording you and your new client time to determine if the relationship is going to be mutually rewarding, including whether their team and yours will work together productively and comfortably
- Increasing your reach to additional clients who may ultimately become your best customers
- Minimizing the risk that a major project will head south (and the nightmares that situation entails)
Once we’ve established a relationship built on value and mutual respect, clients are often receptive to widening the path, entrusting us to provide additional services.
Interested in providing your new clients a footpath? Here’s how to get started.
Forging Your Footpath
To forge an appealing offer, first answer the following question: what does my target audience need or want?
If your business offers premium service packages, for example, a portion of your audience may be interested, yet hesitant to commit because of the cost. To start, you could develop a lower priced monthly offering comprised of a useful portion of your premium packages. Let’s say you offer social media marketing services across multiple platforms, for example. Include an option for a small monthly marketing retainer that includes one social platform and a limited number of posts.
I recommend setting your footpath price at 10-15% of your agency’s target monthly contract. If the low price worries you, remember that the footpath is not your route to early retirement. It is a conduit to provide new customers exceptional value at low risk while they form a trusting relationship with your team.
Your core service may be too expensive for a first-time buyer, but your footpath affords them an opportunity to acquire trust in your competence and integrity. Additionally, they may not know yet which of their problems you can solve—but think of how many problems and solutions you’ll both overlook if you don’t initiate a dialog. And if you identify various needs your buyers have and forge a low-risk/high-value offer for each, you’ll create multiple opportunities to start that conversation with your potential clients. The more footpaths, the better.
How to Create Your Footpath
Your objective is to build trust and showcase your ability to solve your clients’ problems. A successful footpath meets three criteria:
- It is enticingly low-cost and low-risk
- It addresses a specific need of your target audience
- It delivers exceptional value
Here are a few tips to create an online footpath and make it valuable to both yourself and the consumer:
- List the solutions your business offers
- Choose one solution you can tailor to meet the footpath requirements discussed above
- If you’re having trouble choosing a footpath, identify your core product and offer a portion of it
- Price the item or service appropriately—your footpath is not intended to be a loss leader
- Experiment with wording in both your titles and marketing content
- Test and repeat
- Extend new footpaths as prospective clients’ needs crystallize
Forging Success with Footpath Marketing
Success happens when you make good decisions—decisions that provide value to your clients. For our agency, adopting footpath marketing has proven to be one of those success-building decisions.
Enabling clients to engage us in a small initial project increases our market reach while providing new clients a low-risk opportunity to take our services for a stroll. And it generates goodwill.
Footpath marketing follows the “show, don’t tell” approach, building relationships by demonstrating value—a well-trodden and fruitful path.