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How To Set SMART Marketing Goals For Client Acquisition | Back To Basics

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Here's a wild guess: I bet you've never set a real marketing goal for your business.
Since most freelancers struggle to consider themselves a “business”, this really isn't a big surprise.
When it comes to the 10th episode of this “Back to Basics” series, marketing goals are about as basic as things get when it comes to marketing.
How are you going to put together any sort of marketing plan without setting marketing goals?
Now, I get it. I'm sure you have plenty of ideas fluttering around in your head about what you want from your business… Maybe it's a certain income level, a specific rate per project, or attracting a certain type of client.
But here's the reality check: these are more like vague wishes than concrete, achievable goals.
Without shaping those vague ideas into SMART goals, you may find yourself in what I call “plateau hell.”
Do you know that frustrating state where your business seems stuck? Perhaps you've hit a certain revenue mark – often around the $50,000 to $60,000 range – and you just can't seem to break through. You might even feel like you're regressing.
I've been there before, and it's not a fun place to live.
In this episode, I am sharing a tried and tested approach to goal-setting that can help you escape from the Freelancer Plateau Hell.
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • Why the basics matter
  • The business goals to aim for
  • Increasing client value
  • SMART goals for marketing
  • The importance of promoting your business
  • Using reviews to build trust and authority
  • Why high conversion rates are a bad sign

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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello, and welcome to the six Figure Creative Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time listening to the show, first of all, welcome. This podcast is for creatives who are usually freelancers who are tired of just sitting around waiting for business to happen to them. They want to take control of things and actually make happen, preferably cool you wanna do it all without selling your soul. If that sounds like you, you are in the right spot.

[00:00:22] Brian: This episode is a continuation of our Back to Basic series.

[00:00:25] Brian: So for everyone who's been following along, you know, we're going through these basics because A, we need to be reminded more than we need to be taught. We already know these things, but we are just not doing these things. And then, B, successful people never don't do the basics. So the double negative is there for you to remember it, but we always do the basics, and most of us know the basics, but we just haven't been reminded of them lately.

[00:00:45] Brian: So we're ignoring them. Today's episode is no different. You are not going to grow your business as a freelancer without understanding the core of what we're talking about today, and that is setting smart marketing goals.

[00:00:56] Brian: if I were to sit down and literally ask you, what are your goals? What do you want? Outta your [00:01:00] business, you're gonna have a few vague ideas of things you want to happen. You might have a revenue number, you might have some sort of pricing number or rate number that you wanna work yourself up to.

[00:01:10] Brian: You might have a vague idea of the types of clients you want to attract, but you have absolutely zero concrete smart goals. Everything you have swimming around up in your head right now is just half-baked ideas of vague notions of things you want to accomplish, and because of that, nothing ever really gets done.

[00:01:24] Brian: Instead, I want to present to you an idea And this is what's gonna help you actually get out of what I call plateau hell. This is where in your business you've hit some sort of plateau. Usually in the 50 to $60,000 a year range is where people, most people hit that sometimes it can be higher, but the plateau hell is where you've just grown to the point where nothing new and exciting is happening.

[00:01:42] Brian: You might have even started to shrink. Getting out of this requires a lot more than just vague notions, vague ideas of what I want to accomplish. Vague marketing ideas. It takes real plans and plans. Start with what I call smart goals.

[00:01:53] Brian: and SMART is an acronym. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and [00:02:00] time-bound. There's several variations of what these letters stand for, but they all pretty much mean the same thing. Your goals need to be specific, which most peoples aren't. They need to be measurable, which almost nobody's are, especially you creative freelancers. They need to be achievable. So they can't be some crazy pie in the highest dream that you'll never accomplish in a million years.

[00:02:15] Brian: They need to be relevant, so they need to actually match the goals you have for your business and they need to be time balanced. So they need to be a deadline attached to it.

[00:02:21] Brian: and we're specifically in this episode, talking about smart marketing goals. Because in most cases, most freelancers come to this show because they wanna grow their business, and there's only two actual ways to grow your business.

[00:02:30] Brian: There's only two. it sounds kind of wrong when you first hear it cuz you feel like there's way more than two ways to grow your business. And technically there are. But it all boils down to two things. First one is get more clients or customers, depending on your business model.

[00:02:41] Brian: But for most listeners, it's Get more clients. And the second way of growing your business is make your clients worth more money. That's it. Pretty much every single goal you could think of when it comes to growing your business boils down to one of those two things. So if you had the goal of growing your social following, that's because you want more clients, Unless you're just trying to get ego or validation or whatever. But typically, people are growing their social [00:03:00] following in order to get more clients. If you're trying to launch a new service as a freelancer or a new product as a business owner. That's typically because you want your clients to be worth more.

[00:03:07] Brian: You wanna have another product or another service to sell your existing customers or clients so that those clients are worth more money. So you can grow your business. Maybe you have a goal around increasing your website traffic. Again, that's to get more clients. Or maybe you want more referrals. That's again, to get more clients, client retention or clients happiness, or getting your clients to be happier at the end of the day, or clients to have more success with you.

[00:03:26] Brian: That is so that they will come back to you again and again and again, aka. They'll be worth more to you or so that they will refer others to you again, getting more clients. So all goals that I can think of that actually increase your revenue as a business boils down to get more clients, make them worth more.

[00:03:42] Brian: One of those two goals.

[00:03:43] Brian: Now, there are plenty of other things you could work towards besides those two. There's things you could do to make your business better so you can increase profitability, you can make. System's more efficient so that you can take on more clients and you don't hit a, plateau on fulfillment. You can make quality of life improvements to your business and put boundaries [00:04:00] in place with your clients.

[00:04:01] Brian: Adjust your work hours. Focus more on hobbies. Like There's a lot that you can do around parts of your business to make it better, but when it comes to growing your business, it's just those two things. Get more clients or make them worth more, so we have to decide.

[00:04:12] Brian: Which of those two things makes the most sense for you right now?

[00:04:16] Brian: Most people immediately jump to how do I get more clients? And that's not a terrible place to be, and that's something I definitely help with. And we talk about it all the time on the show. It's called Client acquisition, but very few people think about or talk about or consider, what if I just make my existing clients worth more, or at least the clients that I'm working with.

[00:04:32] Brian: Worth more if you are on my email list. You have likely seen an email from me that I sent out this past week of one of our client success stories for clients by design of John and John's business blew up his first year in business. He cracked six figures first full year in 2022. Last year Six figures with like six or seven clients. That was it. And it was because those six or seven clients were worth so much money because they were all paying him on a recurring basis every single month between 1,020 500 a month.

[00:04:59] Brian: Something like [00:05:00] that was what East client was worth. he'll blow past that this year because those client, a lot of those clients are still with him today, and he just stacks on clients until he hits his fulfillment bottleneck and then he starts to hire. So again, all of that. Six figures a year was just from six or seven clients, which is crazy to think about.

[00:05:14] Brian: So if you were looking at which one of these two areas did you focus on, that's actually the easier thing to fix. It's way easier than trying to get 50 to a hundred clients a year, like most freelancers, if they're trying to break six figures.

[00:05:24] Brian: But for this episode, I'm gonna focus on how do you get more clients Maybe you need to make your clients worth more, but I know you want more clients, so I've gotta give you what you want. So actually listen to the show and then maybe if you talk to me, we can talk about how we actually make your clients worth more.

[00:05:38] Brian: let's give you some example, smart marketing goals, so you can see actual examples of what this would look like in your business. And you can model your own smart goals after this.

[00:05:46] Brian: So there's a few things you can do to get more clients and I kind of categorize this to simplify it in my own head. There's creating awareness. So how do you promote yourself as a freelancer? The second one is building trust in authority. So how do you get people to say that, yes, this is the person I [00:06:00] wanna work with.

[00:06:00] Brian: You can increase your sales conversions or, be better at sales. and I created smart goals in all three of these areas. So the first smart goal is a common one that many freelancers come to me with, and it's how do I grow my social following? if I were to say, what's your goal around growing your social following, someone might say, I wanna get to 10,000 followers, or something like that.

[00:06:17] Brian: That's just an example goal. Or I want to add another thousand followers, or something like that. It is specific, growing a thousand followers, it is measurable. You'll know if you've gotten a thousand followers. It might be attainable, might be relevant, it's missing one crucial element, and that is time bound.

[00:06:32] Brian: There's no time element to that. It's also missing the piece of the puzzle of like, what am I going to do? To reach the smart goal. So every one of my, smart goals follow this.

[00:06:40] Brian: and here's, here's a smart goal for growing a social following, so that you can get more clients, right? Increase my Instagram, following by 1000 followers within the next three months by consistently posting high quality reel every day and collaborating with influencers in my industry. I want you to focus not on whether or not that will work for you. That's irrelevant here. And truth be told, [00:07:00] I'm not really that adamant on people doing social media at all. I play a lot of different games, but social media is not one of the games I play for client acquisition.

[00:07:07] Brian: I want you to focus on the structure of this. I want to increase my Instagram following by thousand followers within the next three months.

[00:07:14] Brian: And that alone is basically a smart goal, there's another word in here. By consistently posting high quality reels every day, that's an action you can take. And collaborating with influencers in my industry.

[00:07:26] Brian: if you were to just say, Brian, I wanna get to 10,000 followers, I'd say, great. Make that a smart goal. This is a framework you can use. Now here is another smart goal that I think is a smarter, smart goal. This is one that I actually use and this is what I recommend a lot of people do. It still works in 2023 and beyond.

[00:07:40] Brian: it's stood the test of time. It's not going anywhere anytime soon. And that is email marketing. Now, this is not every industry, this is not a blanket statement for all freelancers in all industries, but in most cases, cases, in most industries that I've worked with.

[00:07:51] Brian: This is still relevant. So building an email list, how do we turn building an email list into a smart goal that gets you more clients? I want to increase my email subscriber list by 500 [00:08:00] new subscribers over the next four months.

[00:08:02] Brian: So there's most of the smart goal, but buy, and this is the important part, by implementing a new lead magnet on my website, promoting a lead magnet on social media. And by offering an incentive for my current subscribers to refer others. So if you break that down, there's actually three things you can do within that to reach that smart goal.

[00:08:19] Brian: Now, there are other ways to build awareness for yourself. You can do ads, you can tie these things together where you're using ads to build an email list. You can tie things together like growing your social following to build your email list. Again, a lot of these things are kind of mix and match what really drives you what speaks to you, what is the thing you want to do?

[00:08:33] Brian: the mistake most freelancers make is they have no smart goals around creating awareness. And awareness is important because you'll never have more clients. Then people are aware of you. Think about that. If a thousand people know I exist, I will never have more than a thousand clients in my life, period.

[00:08:48] Brian: And matter of fact, if you have a thousand people, you know, you exist as a freelancer and they know what services you offer, You might be lucky to get. One to 2% of those people to ever hire you.

[00:08:56] Brian: And in most cases it's gonna be lower than that because if a thousand people that know you, not all of those are [00:09:00] even relevant to your service. So think about how important promotion is to the overall structure of your business, because again, the more people know you exist, the more opportunities you have to close clients because you have more at bats. fewer people that know you exist, the more desperate you're gonna be for every single client that you get, because every single person that knows you exists. Is really important to you because if you mess that up, that one person, that's a huge blow to your business. So promotion or awareness creation is a big part of making any business work, especially freelancers.

[00:09:30] Brian: So next, when it comes to getting more clients, let's look at smart goals around building trust and authority. I've got two to talk about here. How do we build trust with people? A lot of ways to do it. I'm doing one right now, a podcast. I do a podcast every single week, and that gets people to know me and people that have listened to our entire 260 episode backlog.

[00:09:45] Brian: Now you're on episode two 60. have followed me through so much over the years this is the second podcast we're on. We used to be called the Six Figure Home Studio 110 episodes ago, and

[00:09:55] Brian: there's nothing like spending 30 minutes to an hour every single week. With me [00:10:00] talking to you between your earbuds, on your walks, doing your dishes, doing your chores in your car. Huge trust builder, but that's not what we're gonna talk about here today. There's actually two that I think every freelancer should focus on.

[00:10:09] Brian: The first is getting Google reviews or any sort of review site that is a neutral third party. So Google, Facebook's kind of stupid. I don't think you should do Facebook reviews. That's kinda a waste of your time. But Google, there are some more industry specific sites that I think there's some for like wedding photographers.

[00:10:24] Brian: I would stay away from marketplace reviews, but I'd focus on what are neutral third party sites like Google that I can get my clients to review me on so that I'm showing up as a credible, trustworthy source that someone can hire. So let's talk about this. Here's a smart goal around getting reviews. My goal is to get 50 new Google reviews for my business over the next six months.

[00:10:44] Brian: By sending follow up emails to satisfied clients asking for feedback. Now, if you've listened to the show for a while, you know that my preferred strategy for getting reviews is not to just ask for a review because most people don't know what to say. They won't do it. Instead, I send my clients a follow up asking for feedback, and if the [00:11:00] feedback is positive, I always say, thank you so much. That is awesome. I'm so glad you're happy. Would you mind copying and pacing that into a Google review? Here's the link. that would make a huge difference to our business, or something like that. There's different ways you can frame that, the point is, they've already done all the work.

[00:11:13] Brian: They wrote you the response in a text or a DM or an email. They wrote it out, so all they need to do is copy and paste it. Maybe they'll alter a couple things here and there, but they at least have done the hard work. So you're gonna get a higher take rate of people who will copy and paste that review versus asking them to just go review you.

[00:11:28] Brian: Now if you have a high volume business where you're working with a lot of clients and you really don't have the bandwidth to do that for every client and manage that process, then you could do something like this. Here's another smart goal. For those of you that are this kinda business model, get 50 new Google reviews for my business over the next six months by sending up up emails to satisfied clients requesting a review and offering a small incentive for their time.

[00:11:49] Brian: Now there's a lot of ways you can do the incentive. I don't know what the laws or, or the rules are around incentivizing people for review. So you need to look into that for whatever platform you're on. But if you're not breaking any rules or breaking any laws, you can do [00:12:00] things like gift cards. You can do things like free resources, extra time, extra services, some small thing, just some token of appreciation to make it worth their effort.

[00:12:09] Brian: And again, you are a creative, you can come up with some incentive that makes sense, that's scalable, that doesn't. Throw you out of business. But getting reviews, especially when I say the minimum threshold of 20 reviews, but up to 50 to a hundred or more on something like Google is a wonderful resource to have so that when people look you up, that's one of the first things that's always gonna come up at the top of the Google.

[00:12:28] Brian: And they say, okay, this person has a hundred reviews. That's great. I know they're legit. So that helps build trust. But what about building trust and authority? How do people know that you actually can accomplish the thing that you say you can do for them? That's where case studies come in. so let's talk about why case studies are important first, and then we'll talk about creating smart goals around building case studies so that you can actually utilize these to your advantage as a freelancer.

[00:12:48] Brian: case studies are wonderful because if someone has never worked with you before, yes, they can read reviews from people they don't know. They don't know who those people are. They don't like them, they don't trust them. So the reviews are only good if you have a lot of them. But what if you [00:13:00] only have a few reviews and you're still getting that, game going, and you don't have any big names of people you can use as actual testimonials in your website.

[00:13:05] Brian: Cuz that's the other You can use testimonials from known, trusted faces that have given you their thumbs up. That's another way to, move over authority and trust from some trusted resources over to you. But if you don't have those things, what you can do with what we call no name clients that you've helped with their own success for whatever success is in your, in your industry. It could have been a successful wedding that went off without a hitch. It could have been,

[00:13:27] Brian: A new single that blew up on TikTok or something. If you're a music producer, it could have been a video that accomplished some goals for some business. It could have been a podcast. You helped produce that, got that business more clients I'm just making up stuff off the top of my head.

[00:13:39] Brian: But you know, your industry and your business and your service is better than I do. Whatever success is for your clients, find a success story from someone that you've helped and building out a case study. Helps a couple things. A, it helps other potential clients c themselves in that person's shoes because it's more of a story, it's more of a specific outcome, and people can see themselves in that story.

[00:13:59] Brian: [00:14:00] Number two is they don't really care about who that person is because they see a lot more details than just a generic testimonial. They see all the things you did for them, With that case study of John, that's an example of me bringing out more details of what we accomplished together, what we did together, what success looked like for him.

[00:14:16] Brian: And it was really successful. And again, I'm only Wednesday of this week right now, or Tuesday of this week right now. And it's already doing really well, and I haven't even sent out all the emails yet. case studies work really well. So let's talk about a smart goal around creating case studies for your business.

[00:14:30] Brian: Create and publish five new case studies over the next four months. So you're putting a timeframe on there by collaborating with past or existing clients who have seen significant benefits from my services. That's a smart goal. It is specific. It is measurable. It is attainable. Typically. Now, if you're brand new, you maybe you don't have five, but maybe within four months or maybe within six months, you'll have five successful case studies that you can use.

[00:14:54] Brian: It is relevant to your business goals because if you're trying to get more clients, case studies are a great way to do that, and it is [00:15:00] time bound because you're trying to do it in the next four five, maybe six months. you're starting to see the pattern here. The pattern is do a thing within this timeframe, buy this method.

[00:15:08] Brian: That's basically it.

[00:15:09] Brian: All right. The third kind of category of ways to get more clients is through sales. You think about kind of the flow of clients. They learn about who you are, they get to know you, they build trust with you, and then you, you typically have a sales conversation with them. Not everyone's business model is different.

[00:15:23] Brian: Some people are high volume, meaning meaning you do email only for sales, maybe you do very quick discovery calls, and maybe some people are higher value and lower volume, and so you really spend time getting to know your clients. And sometimes you're kind of in the middle of that spectrum, but no matter what, there is a sales conversion number that you can increase, and increasing that sales conversion number means that you are going to get more clients because if you have a hundred people a year who reach out to you, interested in your services.

[00:15:50] Brian: And you're closing, let's just say 30% of those. That means you're getting 30 clients right now, and if you increase that to something like 50%, then just by increasing your sales conversion rate, you're getting 50 clients a year. That means you're [00:16:00] getting 20 more clients per year because you increase your sales conversion rate.

[00:16:04] Brian: Now, insert whatever numbers makes the most sense for you right now, but you get the gist here. So increasing your sales conversion rate. Opportunities and opportunities. Just someone who has reached out interested in your services, or someone who's inquired, or someone who's been referred to you, that's an opportunity.

[00:16:16] Brian: Someone who's expressed interest in turning more of those opportunities into clients is an easy way to get more clients. So here's a smart goal around this. Increase my sales call conversion rate. From 30% to 50% over the next three months or the next quarter. However you'd like to use those the same amount of time.

[00:16:34] Brian: By refining my sales script, improving objection handling, really important, and providing personalized solutions to potential clients. A k A. You're able to shape your pitch what they specifically want and need, not just the generic approach of, here's what I do. Even if you offer very similar services for all your clients, you can still shape certain elements of your pitch around what they care about instead of what you think they shouldn't care about. And that's a really [00:17:00] important distinction.

[00:17:00] Brian: Now, this is a really important side note for those of you who have higher conversion rates than this, I know a lot of people they, they brag about like, oh, I close like 90% of people I talk to. If that is you, you are doing it wrong. I promise you, if you're closing like more than 70% of the people you talk to, if you're closing that many people, there's a couple things you're doing wrong.

[00:17:17] Brian: Number one, it means you're not going after a big enough audience. You're only scraping up the people that would've hired you pretty much no matter what. means you're business is probably not growing. That means you're not getting that many opportunities, you're gonna convert the highest amount of those because it's just the referrals you get.

[00:17:31] Brian: It's just the people that reach out to you. You're doing nothing to actively generate opportunities for your business. That's typically the first thing I see from anyone with a high sales conversion rate, they just don't have enough opportunities because they're not reaching enough people a k a, they're not promoting or creating awareness.

[00:17:44] Brian: So that's like. 1 0 1. When I see that, that's a red flag to me. The second red flag for a high conversion rate is that you're just charging way too little. If every opportunity you come that comes to you, if you're closing like three outta four of those, or four outta five of those, that is a red flag that you should be increasing your [00:18:00] rates probably significantly.

[00:18:01] Brian: So the sweet spot is between 30 and 50% is what I typically wanna see sales conversion rates at, Preferably around 50%, but for some people, depending on the industry, 30 percent's kind of the sweet spot. But if you're way above that, that's a red flag. If you're way below that, that's another red flag.

[00:18:15] Brian: So try to stay within that sweet spot and always be improving your sales process while also adjusting price points based on your sales conversion rate of those new opportunities.

[00:18:23] Brian: So those are five smart goals that pretty much anyone listening to the show could probably do, and you could maybe adjust a couple numbers there on what makes the most sense for you. the big thing is I want you to just think through this from a big picture perspective. Look at how these are approached, like what's my approach to creating smart goals?

[00:18:37] Brian: And compare that to your approach to creating goals for your business. Hot tip for you is use Chad g B T. And you can just say to chat, g p t, give me a smart goal for blank, for growing my following, for getting more clients. increasing my sales conversion rate. This will just give you a good framework and give you more details on what this looks like.

[00:18:53] Brian: don't rely on this, but use it as a starting place for creating your own smart goals that you can then reverse engineer and into an actual plan.[00:19:00] Now before you head off into the sunset with your smart goals thinking, I figured it out, I'm gonna grow my business. Now, there's two ways that people mess this up, especially you creatives. The first one is you drastically undershoot your goals, meaning you think about what's realistic or what's a not scary number to go after.

[00:19:16] Brian: So you're letting your fear of failure dictate what your goals are, or you just don't know what's even possible because you're not surrounding yourself with other people who do know what's possible. The second way you mess this up is by not following through. So you create these goals, hell, maybe they're even aggressive, maybe they're lofty, they're within your actual wheelhouse.

[00:19:34] Brian: There are true, smart goals, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant in timebound. Maybe you get all that right. the mistake you make is you don't follow through because you don't have a specific plan. So yes, it's great to have the smart goals, and you have the numbers, and you have the timeframe and even know what you're going to do by doing X, Y, and Z I'm going to hit the smart goal. But you don't turn that into an actual plan that you're gonna follow.

[00:19:53] Brian: even if you do have a plan, if you don't hold yourself accountable.

[00:19:56] Brian: These are the mistakes that I've seen pretty much everyone make at some [00:20:00] point. I've made them myself at certain points. So if this sounds like you and you actually want help to create smart goals for yourself, create a plan and actually stick to that plan. This is why I created Clients by Design. It is a unique coaching program implements a plan created specifically for you one-on-one, help group coaching a community.

[00:20:17] Brian: And actual accountability because you have task assigned to you with due dates over a long period of time. I know all of the elements that hold people back, and I know how to overcome those. So that is what I've created clients by design to do. So if you want help around this area, if you're the type of person where you either undershoot your goals because of fear of failure, no one's holding you accountable.

[00:20:34] Brian: You don't know what's possible, so you never push yourself. You just do what's likely or what, makes the most sense to me right now? Or you just don't have a plan to follow and you have a million ideas swimming around your head. If that sounds like you just go to six figure creative.com/apply and you can fill out a short application for the coaching program.

[00:20:50] Brian: the end of the day, going back to what I said at the beginning of this episode, you have to take action towards getting what you want. If you wanna be a successful freelancer, You can't just idly wait for business to happen to [00:21:00] you. You have to take steps towards reaching the goals that you want. Those goals need to be smart.

[00:21:04] Brian: Yes. But you have to have a plan. You have to have accountability, and you need to actually do those things. So I don't want people to listen to this episode and think, eh, that makes so much sense. that was a good episode, Brian. Thank you. I get emails like that all the time. I get comments our YouTube occasionally me know these things and then up a year later and nothing's really changed, so I don't want that to be you.

[00:21:21] Brian: So whether you need coaching or whether you have the ability to do it in yourself without coaching, or whether you have somebody in your life who can help you with these things, whatever the result is, whatever the process is, I want you to make sure you are always taking action towards your goals. So that is it for this episode.

[00:21:36] Brian: Thank you so much for putting up with my rants this week. Until next time, thank you so much listening to the six Figure Creative Podcast.

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