Small Business Marketing Ideas: How to Get Clients by Being More Exclusive

Small Business Marketing Ideas: How to Get Clients by Being More ExclusiveContinuing with our posts on small business marketing ideas that are powerful and yet simple, I want to share with you some special secrets about how you can get more clients by becoming more exclusive.

This might seem crazy and counterintuitive, but it’s true!

Let me explain by referring back to a common saying:  ‘Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”

Growing up, my parents were always telling me this. It’s so true.

The friends we choose reflect who we are and who we want to be.

Now that I run my own business, that saying makes even more sense to me.

We’ve got to be very protective of our environment and carefully examine every new person who comes into our lives.


Because our success depends on the type of people we surround ourselves with on a day-to-day basis.  We need rich networks of individuals who believe in—and support—our mission.

We all get this point.

But. . .

When it comes to clients, we often just accept whoever walks through our doors or wants to purchase our services online.

We allow ourselves to work with clients who aren’t always quite right for us.


Myth: What’s the big deal?  A client is a client.

Fact: Not all clients are created equal.

When you start working with less-than-ideal clients, you block business with the ideal ones.

As small business owners, you can’t accept an unlimited amount of clients. When you accept someone who’s not a perfect fit, you’re letting that person take the spot of someone who would energize and inspire you.

Myth: I need the money.

Fact: You lose money working with less-than-ideal clients.  They drain you of energy and cause you to drag your feet.

You might be giving them your best, but they might not be ready to do the work necessary for getting the best possible results.  Or you might not be fully motivated to work on their projects, which, in turn, can lead to dissatisfaction and requests for refunds!

Myth: I don’t have a choice, because a friend or family member asked me to help them.

Fact: You always have a choice.  Does making some choices—like saying “no” to someone—require uncomfortable conversations?  Absolutely.

It’s better to feel awkward for a few minutes than it is to work with someone whose needs you can’t—or don’t want to—fulfill.

Myth: I’m just starting out and cannot afford to be picky.

Fact: Being picky is the only way to build a winning client roster.

As a client, you find it perfectly okay to be choosy about what service providers you select, especially when it comes to premium services.

The same should be true about how you choose your clients.

You are in the business of producing the best results for your clients.  It’s your responsibility to choose the ones you know you can help get these amazing results.

So how do you ensure that you work only with your ideal clients?


1. DEFINE your ideal clients.

Go beyond their demographics and psychographics.  Think about the qualities they possess.

For example, my ideal clients are:

  • Optimists who are easy to work with because they feel responsible for their own success.
  • Action takers who can implement tasks right away and make things happen when they set goals.
  • Collaborators who work well with others, seek out support and follow instructions.
  • Humorous and not afraid to make fools out of themselves.
  • Eager to learn new things and love discovering optimal ways of accomplishing goals.
  • Passionate about striving to become organized and in control of their businesses.


This system can be as simple as a questionnaire that you have your prospects fill out before scheduling a meeting with you or a set of questions you ask your prospects when you have your discovery session.

Use the session to figure out whether or not you will be able to help them achieve their goals and to see if you’re a good fit for each other in terms of your personalities.

I always have a diagnostic session with my prospects.  For long-term packages, I have a 2-week trial period for both of us.  At the end of it, we can voice our concerns and even end our collaboration if we feel like it’s not working out.

3.  SAY “NO”

If you don’t find the idea of working on this person’s project inspiring, turn it down.

If you’re like me, you rely on your intuition when it comes to new people.

I’ve learned to surrender to my instinct when making decisions about working with someone.  It may not be the most sophisticated tool, but it rarely lets me down.

Gracefully communicate your decision to your prospect or existing client.

Give your reasons without getting personal.  Here are two good things to say: “I don’t think we’d be a good fit” or “I’m not the best person to serve you.”  If possible, provide them with recommendations of someone who might be able to help them.

Don’t burn bridges, but be strong.

Remember that when something feels “off’ to you, the other person can feel it too.

You’re not doing anyone favors by keeping a less-than-ideal client.

Let them go so that you can work with the people you are truly meant to serve.

Allow me to emphasize the importance of this well-kept small business marketing idea: Your clients are an expression and an extension of you.   Select them as carefully as you select your friends.

Just like with great friends, time with your ideal clients will be flying by.  You will be enjoying every moment of working with them.  And so will they.  They’ll be bragging about you to everyone they know.

Even if you need to have a referral conversation it will be as easy as: “I’m looking to pick up another client.  Do you know anyone like you?” :)

And lastly, ideal clients get the value of your services and follow the processes of working with you.  Clear processes make it easy to scale your work.  So, you’ll be able to physically service more clients in the same amount of time.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, being exclusive will get you booked solid much faster than keeping your doors open for whoever walks into them. 


Ready to apply these important yet oft-forgotten small business marketing ideas? Comment below: Do you have a red velvet rope policy for your clients?  How do you ensure that you work only with the right people?

Comment with:

Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. Natasha, I absolutely agree with you on being selective and exclusive.. I’ve often turned away clients who I knew weren’t a good fit for us and while it did hurt a little in the beginning especially, I KNEW it was the right thing to do for everyone:-) Thanks so much for a great post! Shared it all over:-)

  2. Love this!! A potential client misunderstood what I can do for them and asked for a rec of someone else in the same email. When I went to email them back, I didn’t explain that I actually could do that work for them because I could feel that they were a terrible fit for me and that I wouldn’t enjoy working with them. Instead, I politely referred them to people I think they would be a good fit for. And they were more than happy to get the recs! No animosity or anything. It feels good to tell the wrong person, “nope, not me”.

    I’m going to add that trial period concept to my own long packages. I think that’s a great idea and can avoid “the customer from hell” or the reverse from their end.

    • Have heard of the Velvet Rope policy… but haven’t tried the “trial period” for long term clients. I will have to consider that. Great insights.

  3. Antoinette Hayes /

    This article deserves two thumbs up! I’ve never considered choosing clients’ as I would friends. I’m very selective about friendships; therefore, I plan to adopt this policy effective immediately.

    I’ve read a lot of articles about choosing clients, but this one stands out the most for me.

  4. Oooh! Love the two week “trial” for long term clients/projects. Great idea — I need to intrgrate that. Thanks for all the brilliance as always, Natasha!

    I always insist that my prospective clients do a free 20 min consult with me on the phone , even if they say they just want to hire me. Also, part of what they need to do to prepare for the consult is to do a bit of “homework”. So, depending on how my prospects do with these two tasks, and since I have not invested much of my time, it is easier for me to be me and lay it all out as to how I work……and for me to get to know them and see if I feel like I can really help them find a solid solution once we are finished. if I know in my gut that I can’t help them, I will direct them to another person/resource….And I feel okay about that.

    • nvorompiova /

      I couldn’t agree more, Aimeee! It’s so important we know that our clients are also ready to invest in our partnership. Besides, their results depend on the level of their involvement… even with done-for-you services. And yes, most times I blindly rely on my intuition to make the call if I want to work with someone or not. And those times I commit to working with a person despite the “red flags,” it backfires. Go figure :).

  5. nisha k /

    Hi Natasha,
    After spending a rotten day working with a less than ideal client and suffering for a week after.I think this article was written for me.You are sooooo right.
    If you have a gift to share , you need to share it with people who can share their gifts with you, not just give it away to people who a)do not understand the value of what you are giving or b) take it happily and give nothing in return, leaving you drained.
    But it starts with me.I need to protect my talents and value them.


  1. Surprising Secrets for How to Increase Sales - SystemsRock | SystemsRock - [...] Part of the problem was that I was trying to sell to less-than-ideal clients. [...]
  2. 5 Essentials for Your Systematic Success | SystemsRock - […] Work out all the kinks in our processes so we always deliver an  unforgettable experience to our clients. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *