If you are an agency owner, consultant, solopreneur or small business owner who wants to attract more right-fit clients, the best business development book I have read in two years is The Widest Net by Pamela Slim. The book made me think, laugh, cry and feel noble for the work I do.
In my opinion, Slim is arguably America’s top business development expert. This is a book to buy and keep within reach. I also advise you get it on Audible and listen.
Her book details a proven strategy for unlocking untapped markets and discovering new customers right in front of you. Her book explains how to drive unprecedented business growth by connecting with customers you don’t know and haven’t yet met.
As Slim advises, the key to meeting them is to find the watering holes where they gather. Just depending on referrals to fill your pipeline is weak; hers is a proactive strategy.
I met Slim in May of 2022 at the Build A Better Agency Summit in Chicago, where she spoke to 250 advertising, digital marketing and PR agency owners. We caught up in a recent Zoom interview.
“Nothing helps business owners grow more strategically and quickly than looking at their marketing through the lens of an ecosystem, which consists of all the services, products, organizations, events, and media that are aligned with your values and provide your ideal client with resources to solve their problem,” says Slim. “Your ideal client is at the center of that ecosystem.”
The Widest Net is filled with concrete examples as a roadmap to follow.
“Within this ecosystem are watering holes where your ideal clients reside, such as associations, events, podcasts, popular magazines, ‘best of’ lists, and online groups,” says Slim. “The organizers of these watering hotels share a mission with you: to solve the core problem of your ideal client.”
As an exercise, Slim suggests creating a list of watering holes. You might want to manage the effort in a spreadsheet. Start with these categories:
1. Service providers
2. Thought leaders and influencers
3. Associations and clubs
4. Faith communities
5. Media hubs
7. Nonprofit associations
8. Government institutions
9. Academic institutions
10. For-profit companies
“Now that you have a starter list of watering holes, in person and online, where you could potentially reach multiples of your ideal customer, you are ready to develop a deliberate and consistent plan for building connections,” says Slim.
“Reach out to members of your selected watering holes by sharing information and resources to support their work and solving your ideal clients’ problems,” says Slim. “Plant your seeds of connection slowly and methodically and break down your efforts into tiny marketing actions.”
Slim’s website has many free downloads to help with the effort. Also, on Feb. 16-19, 2023, she is hosting a live The Widest Net Retreat in Mesa, Arizona to jumpstart your efforts.
For this to work, you have to work. You need to take action every day planting seeds. I put her book to the test. Within one week I committed what she calls “a tiny act of marketing” that got me a comp invitation to a $2,200 event that is a watering hole filled with desirable prospects, and the organizer offered to advocate my work to boot. Not a bad return on investment for the cost of a book.