Continuing 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?