The creative entrepreneur's alternative to lead-gen

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Running a creative business is quite possibly one of the most rewarding ways to make a living. You get to create a sustainable, profitable, successful business around doing what you love on a daily basis. You get to call the shots. To work with clients who truly value what you do and will give you the creative freedom to your very best work.

So how do you win this work? How do you attract the right clients who'll give you the trust, freedom and support you need to fulfil what you're truly capable of? How do you build a profitable business that allows you to live your life in the way you want to? How do you build a steady stream of clients so you're not lurching from one crisis to the next?

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In simple form: you trust your instincts. You work out what makes your brand uniquely, brilliantly better than anyone else's and you put that at the heart of your communications. You elevate your brand, you enchant your audience and you treat your clients like the intelligent, lovely human beings that they are.

Over the past few months I've come across so many talented, experienced and creative entrepreneurs who have been seduced by the quick fix lead-gen marketing promises. The truth is though, for those I've spoken to, it's not working.

It's stressful to market your business in such an aggressive way. It gets in the way of who you really are and it undermines your credibility.

You don't need any fancy tricks to make your business work. You don't need 'proven systems and strategies'. You need to take back the control within your business and trust your instincts.

Lead-gen marketing is not the answer for everyone

For those of you wondering what on earth I'm talking about, lead-gen marketing is a very specific, formulaic way of marketing your business that at it's very essence, is designed to make the process of marketing your business more reliable, more reassuring, more of a dead cert.

You may not have heard of lead-gen before, but you'll certainly be familiar with its's tactics. Squeeze pages packed with testimonials, early signing bonuses and $$$ value. Hooks, catchy headlines and strong calls to action to gain maximum conversions.

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You'll have seen the same words on countless websites 'take me there', 'sign me up', 'yes please' and my personal favourite 'save my seat'. You'll have seen the same structure on the homepages. The questions, the aggressive use of language and the emphasis on pain points. You'll have seen the same stories, the promises of wealth and six figure incomes and a certain impetus to take action now.

How does it make you feel

Lead-gen marketing is nothing new. I first happened upon it more than a decade and a half ago. I've experimented with it in my previous business too, so I have seen both sides of the story.

My experience? It feels aggressive, attracts the wrong sorts of clients and makes me feel uncomfortable. You may not feel the same, and that's OK, but the clients I've spoken too have felt thoroughly uneasy about using this approach but are at a loss as to what to do differently. 

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I want to say one thing right now. If you like this approach, if you're comfortable with marketing your business in this way, if it's working for you and you're attracting the right kinds of clients, then don't stop. Lead-gen is an emotive topic and I'm aware that for some of you, it's the lifeblood of your business. I'm not judging, I'm here to help you make the right choice for your unique business. 

If not lead-gen, then what?

Stepping away from the lead-gen safety net can be terrifying. It requires you to put your focus back on you and your business and discern precisely what it is that makes your business brilliant. I mean, really look. At what makes you happy, where you want to take your business and who you want to be working with.

It means trusting your instincts, believing that your creative flair is enough and putting the focus very much back on what you do brilliantly, rather than all the fluff that'll get people to buy. It means slowing things down. Taking your time to get your product right. It means investing in your brand, your photography and creating a beautiful experience.

I never said it was easy.

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But the rewards are immense. The confidence, clarity and pleasure gained from marketing your business in a way that feels right for you is incredible. I don't have a formula for the alternative and it certainly doesn't guarantee anything. Thats not what it's about.

Instead, it's about working out what sort of business you want to run, thinking carefully about who you'd be overwhelmingly inspired to work with and simply showcasing what you do. It's about stripping out the nonsense, taking things back to basics and letting your brilliance shine.