Expert service providers, who are your gatekeepers?

One method for attracting clients that’s often overlooked is to work with individuals and businesses that already have access to your target audience.

I like to call these people gatekeepers.

Now it’s worth noting that in order to maximise the potential of your gatekeepers, it’s important to initially be clear about the specific services you want to provide as well as the particular types of clients you want to work with the most.

By niching these two areas, it makes it much easier to plan your marketing activities as it ensures your messaging and targeting is focused.

In relation to targeting specifically, when potential clients can clearly see that an offering is ‘just for them’ it significantly increases the chance that they will be interested in buying it.

This is especially important in modern times as we are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages on a daily basis and need to quickly calculate which of them are relevant to us.

Now I know what you might be thinking, niching down may seem scary, but the fear that’s often associated with niching down is misunderstood.

It’s common to think that niching limits your potential to attract clients. When in all honesty, it maximises your potential.

As soon as you stop trying to be all things to all people and instead talk about a focused set of services in your marketing materials, it carries more weight and makes you look more credible.

But the other key thing to remember with niching is that you don’t actually have to niche your whole business; and you don’t have to stop taking on client work that’s outside of your area of focus.

The best way to approach niching is to just do it for your marketing. By this I mean you are very clear about the services you want to provide and who you are looking to work with in your external communications.

Although, if an interesting work opportunity presents itself that doesn’t fit your niche, you are still free to take it on. Ultimately it’s your business so you don’t need to be overly strict with it.

The only caveat that comes with taking on projects outside your niche is that you need to make sure you don’t showcase them in your marketing materials. This is because it will weaken the proposition of your niched services.

Now back to the idea of gatekeepers.

So when it comes to finding your gatekeepers, you don’t want to be looking for people that offer identical services to you – instead they should offer complementary services.

Consider which types of businesses also work with your ideal clients but don’t have the capacity to deliver the specific services you provide. These are the companies that could be a good source of new client work.

Once you know who you are looking to engage with, here are the steps I would suggest to follow:

  1. Use the search function on LinkedIn to locate the individual gatekeepers by typing in keywords relating to their job title or service area.
  2. Send each of them a connection request but also be sure to ‘add a note’ alongside your request that explains a bit about why you are reaching out.
  3. Start building relationships with them. Remember to never go straight in with an ask or sales pitch. Instead it’s best to engage with their posts and interact with them via direct messages to build trust over time.

It’s also wise to demonstrate your expertise by posting valuable content on your LinkedIn account too.

By clearly and routinely communicating your expertise, the gatekeeper should build an understanding of your key services and strengths. This will help to make referring someone to you as easy as possible for them if and when the opportunity presents itself.

Conclusion and action point

It’s often stated that word of mouth is the biggest source of new clients for service businesses. So we must find ways to make the most out of this reality, and building relationships with gatekeepers is a great method to do so.

Your action point for today is to look for and connect with 5-10 potential gatekeepers on LinkedIn to begin the process.

And just as a final thought, it’s always good to approach relationship building with a giving mindset. If you help them, they are likely to want to return the favour at some point in the future.