Why what you Can't Do will set you up for Success

I recently had the opportunity to pass along some capabilities to a person looking for communications support on a tight turn around project. When I sent an informal proposal via email, I included a paragraph making sure he knew what I didn’t provide. Here is a (paraphrased) version of that:

Can Help:

- I can help you think through a strategy for your launch, and I feel confident that I can help you craft the materials you already have gathered in a way that sets you up for success with reporters.

Can't Help:

- Where I lack is direct relationships with reporters and bloggers in your area of business. So if that's what you're looking for, I am not sure I am the right person.

Here’s why: it saves him time and me time when I am VERY clear on how I can help support what he's looking to accomplish.

If you’re providing an intangible product (consulting, PR, coaching) being clear on what you can’t do for a client is as helpful as being clear on where you can.

I recently listened to Ramit Sethi of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com on a Social Triggers Podcast. He teaches investing advice and has a rule that if you have credit card debt, you’re not allowed to buy his product. His logic (again, paraphrased) was pretty awesome:

If you have debt, then you’re not making the right choices with your money. If you buy my product the same frame of mind, you won’t be successful and my programs won’t be successful. I ask those customers with debt to use my free advice online (which there is plenty of), and when they get out of debt they can move on to my paid offerings.

The wrong clients will make what you offer ineffective. So simple, but kind of a mindblower.

So ask yourself: Who is your ideal customer, what are they looking for? And on the flip side – who is a customer that might find you that you know in your gut you can’t really help?

Remember, it’s not about making money with anyone coming through the door. Five "meh" clients with ok results vs one awesome client who achieves amazing results may be worth it for your business reputation in the long run. And that means more results, more notoriety, and more business (with the right kinds of clients!).