The secret to getting better clients

What’s the difference between a project that makes you feel like the luckiest freelancer in the world and one that makes you want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head? The client. Good clients inspire us to do our best work, while bad clients seem to specialize in a unque kind of torture and are rarely be satisfied with the outcome.

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So how do you attract more dream clients?  By creating a marketing message and strategy that speaks to their challenges and how they benefit from working with you.  If you’re not sure what their challenges are, you’re in luck.  I have a simple, incredibly effective exercise that will help you gain clarity and provide you with the language you need to speak directly to your dream clients. Ready? 

You’re going to interview your best clients.  Here’s how:

Step 1
Review past projects and grade your clients.  Which clients respected your time and process and paid you what you’re worth?  Which ones drained your energy, time and nickel and dimed you into the bargain?  Put you’re A and B clients into one pile and the D, E, and F clients in another. 

Step 2
Select 3-4 of your A and B clients and send an email explaining what you’re doing and requesting 20 minutes of their time.  It’s really important that you conduct the interview by phone or in person. When responding via email, people tend to edit themselves and say what they think you want to hear.  When you talk to someone in person, they are much more elaborative and often repeat certain things again and again. This is a great indicator that it’s important to them and something you should pay attention to. 

Now I know what you’re going to say (because all my coaching clients say it!). You don’t want to bother people, right? I’ve done this exercise for my own business and can assure you that your satisfied clients will be more than happy to do it.  If it helps, here’s the email I sent to five of my ideal clients.  Four responded within the hour saying they’d love to participate. 

Hi (name of client),

How are you? I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend!  Spring put in an appearance in New York just in the nick of time!

I wanted to ask for your input on something big that I’m working on.  (briefly describe/outline here).  I would like to interview a few of my ideal clients (of which you’re one, naturally), so that I may hone my message.  Would you be open to chatting on the phone for 20 minutes or so and answering a few questions. I would SO appreciate your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a lovely day!

Best wishes,

Justine

It goes without saying that if you meet them in-person, the coffee or glass of wine is on you!

Step 3
Develop a list of questions that you’d like to ask your ideal clients. Remember, your goal is to define (a) what makes you unique (b) what problems you solve and (c) for whom. Here are a few questions you might ask:

  • Why did you come to me?
  • Why did you continue to work with me?
  • What was your biggest struggle prior to working with me?
  • What challenges do you regularly come up against?
  • What did you get from working with me?
  • What do you need that I don’t currently offer?

Aim for about 10-12 questions in total. 

Step 4
Arrange to interview your clients by phone or in person.  Have your questions printed out on a sheet of paper with plenty of space to take really good notes. You’ll want to capture as much as possible.

Step 5
Type up your notes while the interview in fresh in our mind and you can add observations, or things you remembered, but weren’t able to capture.

Step 6
Repeat with 3-4 clients

Step 7
Review all of your notes.  What common themes did you see? How did your clients describe you? I found that their description of what I offered was far better than my own, so I incorporated their language right into my message. 

Every time I’ve done this exercise, I’m always so happy that I did.  It’s a great opportunity to spend time with your ideal clients, learn what’s working and discover new ways in which you can help them.  It’s a win-win. So push through the discomfort, set up those interviews and prepare to work ONLY with dream clients from now on!

Did you like what you read today? If you did, please share it with a friend. And, as always, please leave a comment. I’d love ot hear your thoguhts!

 

 

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