If you’re in business, there’s always one thing that’s top of mind:
Whether you’re starting out and need to get your first few clients, or are re-positioning your existing business to attract higher-quality, better paying clients, the goal of keeping your pipeline full is always the same.
So, how do you find and keep great clients?
After 15+ years getting new clients as a rep for independent creative professionals, and 7 years building my coaching practice, I’ve learned that business development is a two-pronged process:
- Getting clients in the door right now (the short game). This works when you’re starting out and just need to get clients in the door, or need an injection of cash into your business fast. The pros of this approach are you have a level of energy and motivation, and will take whatever action is necessary. The cons are it’s exhausting and stressful to operate this way.
- Developing a strategy and action plan to consistently attract the clients you want (the long game). When you have clarity and confidence around what you do, who you do it for, how you serve them, and what actions you need to take on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, you’ll get better clients, make more money and feel like you have more time. If those things sound good to you, this is the goal you should work towards.
There’s a time and place for both strategies, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on strategies for getting new clients quickly, because I know that’s probably what you need, right?
Here are 5 things you need to do to get new clients, right now:
1) Get clear on your target market
If you constantly find yourself in a feast or famine cycle, it’s likely you don’t have a clear target market. And you know what they say, “when you try to be all things to everybody, you become nothing to no one”.
Defining one or two client areas e.g. Fashion and Accessories, Real estate and Hospitality, or Food and Home, will help you connect with prospects and position your services much more effectively. Not sure what your target market is? Start by asking yourself the following questions:
What kinds of clients do I feel a natural connection to?
What past projects have been most successful?
What do people come to me for? e.g. websites, identities, copywriting, strategy development
What would I do all day for free?
2) Come up with a list of prospective clients
If you are a graphic designer and your target market is jewelry designers looking for an affordable identity, website, and marketing/sales materials, start researching prospective clients. Check out blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest. Once you’ve got a list of brands, check out LinkedIn to see if you can find their contact info, or better yet, a connection in common who can make an introduction. Now create a contact list: it can be as simple as word or excel document.
3) Craft your pitch
Rather than putting a vague offer out there and hoping for the best, create a pitch that speaks to your target audiences’ needs directly. Let’s say your target audience, jewelry designers, need a logo, identity, newsletter template and sales sheet so they can pitch their line to stores, create that package and pitch it to them. You might even want to position it as a promotional offer along the lines of “sign up for the whole package by a certain date and get a discount or bonus deliverable. Whip up a PDF (or have someone do it for you) that explains the package and perhaps includes a case study and testimonial that you can attach to emails.
4) Be persistent
Most people put one email out there and think they’re done. You’re not! Being persistent is key. Start with your email, with the call to action being an introductory call. If you don’t hear back, send a couple more follow up emails a over the course of a couple of weeks, then every few months after that.
At the same time, follow them on social media and comment on their posts. Be visible. Be helpful. Continue to stay in touch by commenting, engaging, and sharing a resource or making an introduction you think would help them.
5) Ask your network for referrals
Having a strong network is one of the best things you can do for your business. If you don’t have one, now’s a great time to start investing in that. Regardless of how big or small your current network is, everyone has a handful of champions who are willing to share your pitch with their network if you ask. Send them an email asking how things are with them, sharing your pitch and who you’d like to target, and asking if they’d be willing to forward an email or share a post on social media. Most people will say yes! Sign off by offering (and meaning it!) to something for them.
I promise, if you take these steps, you WILL get more clients.
Now, if you’re ready to up the ante, and master the short and long game of consistently getting more high-quality clients, I’d love to show you how. I have just 3 spots left in my group coaching program, The Creative Business Bootcamp, starting June 13th, 2017
During the 12-week program, I’ll be teaching creative entrepreneurs and freelancers like you how to position yourself uniquely and effectively within the market place, connecting with your ideal clients and bringing more freedom, fulfillment and income into your business and life.
And if you have any questions, send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hop on a 15-minute call to see if it’s right for you.