I remember it well. I was 12 years old when I heard Eric Clapton's first solo album. I can tell you where I was. I can tell you the first song I listened to. (It wasn't the first track.) I can tell you that I was an instant fan and have been ever since --- so much so that my oldest child, Erika, is named after him.

Mr. Clapton has had his ups and down in life -- battling alcohol and drug addiction as well as depression. Sometimes these battles led to inspired works; sometimes they led to songs and albums that caused some fans to determine that "Slowhand" had lost it.

I, however, am not your average fan. For whatever reason, the sound that emanates from his guitars captures me ... inspires me. Sure, I know when he has produced a clunker. It happens. But as a true fan, I know he will be back with something that touches me in the same way "Let It Rain" did all those years ago.

How would your business be affected if your clients thought about you in the same way as I do about Eric Clapton? Would it increase the number of clients you have? Would you get more referrals? Would you be able to increase your fees and your profits? Then you have to convert the people who hire you from clients to fans. How do you do that? It's not as difficult as you may think.

First, determine who your most profitable clients are. Once you have that information, ask those particular people why it is they do business with you. Then ask them what else you could possibly do for them to make their lives or businesses better?

Before you go any further, realize that you now have to take the information you got from your best clients and interpret it to determine what it is that they actually meant. For instance, one of the most popular answers you may get is to make it easier to get in contact with you. Does that mean they want you to answer the phone more often, instead of your voice mail answering? Does it mean that they want to be able to reach you by e-mail and be assured that you will respond within 24 hours? If necessary, contact those clients again and ask probing questions until you know exactly what it is they want.

Now you need to create a plan that not only addresses what it is that your clients want, but also one that blows them away. If it is important that you get back to them within 24 hours, perhaps you can devise a way to get back to them within six hours. Just be sure that you can consistently provide whatever it is you decide upon.

When I owned a publishing company, we sold the magazines and books directly to our target audience. We also sold products that pertained to the subjects discussed in the magazines and books. When customers ordered the publications or products, they could count on the items being shipped within 24 hours ... without fail. I could count on one hand how many times we missed this promise over the course of 15 years. We also promised that we would not be out of stock, and if we were, the customer received a discount.

Another promise we made and consistently delivered on was that if a customer did not receive an issue of a magazine -- for whatever reason, such as getting lost in the mail -- then we shipped another one to them by first-class mail on the same day that they notified us. And ... we added another issue to the length of their subscription just because they had to go out of their way to contact us.

So what did all this do for us? It turned our customers into fans. The positive word-of-mouth advertising and referrals we received was astounding, and what might at first blush appear to be unprofitable practices were actually very profitable.

You see, our customers knew we cared about them. There was a real connection, and they realized that they could count on us. And in the few instances when they were disappointed, they knew we would not only make it up to them, but that we would also go beyond what anyone else would do.

That's what Eric Clapton does for me and has been doing so for almost four decades. If his next release isn't up to my expectations, I'll eagerly await the one after that. Why? Because I know that in the long run, he is going to provide me with something that others simply do not.

That is exactly how you want your clients to feel about you. Then you no longer have a list of clients, you have a list of fans -- fans who look forward to working with you ... fans who know that you care about them and are there for them. Then the referrals and the profits will roll in in numbers you previously had only wished for.

One more thing. Think about how your prospects will feel when they look at your web site or marketing materials and see "Our Fans," as opposed to "Our Clients."

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of "101 Ways to Attract More Clients" at =>