What I’m reading: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
What’s on the iPod: A View That Almost Kills by We Invented Paris
Since Monday, I’ve gotten quite a bit done. I have to — my daughter and her husband move out tomorrow and we’ll be busy. Then Monday I’m off to Ontario for some quality time with the fish. So client projects had to be expedited. I have one more thing on the agenda before I sign off on Thursday evening, then I can get busy with personal stuff.
I was reading some really bad article on how to get more clients. Really bad — pretend you’re not busy? I’ll never understand why anyone thinks desperation looks good to a client. Plus it puts the relationship in an uneven foundation — you, the writer, are putting your own needs aside for the client. Where does that stop? My guess is it won’t. I say admit you’re busy and offer options. I just did that on one project, and it was no big deal. We simply moved the date ahead.
Aside from setting boundaries, like we’ve talked about recently, there are ways to attract not only more clients, but those clients you want to work with.
Start with a list. You may already know what clients you’d like to work with. If not, do a little research. What types of clients catch your attention? Which projects do you enjoy most? Who might need those types of projects? Who can afford you? Take some time to get to know yourself and those client prospects whose needs and qualities align with your own. Try to find at least seven prospects.
Study. Now it’s time to dig deeper. Who are these prospects? What have they been doing the last five years? What changes have they gone through? Are there any red flags that suggest they’re struggling financially? Spend time on their websites, blogs, and on search engines looking for information. While you’re on their website, locate the name and contact info of their head of marketing or sales development.
Make friends. Once you know as much as you can about your ideal client prospect, send a note. I tend to head to the marketing group as they are usually the ones who know what needs they have. If it’s a smaller company, go right for the CEO/owner. Send your LOI and include a little of your background (relevant to their business) and ask questions about what you’ve uncovered in your research. Ask for a conversation by phone to see if your skills match their needs.
Follow up. Unless they flat-out turn you down, stay in touch. I’ve had prospects tell me they don’t use freelancers. I still stay in touch, but just once a year to see if their needs have changed. Their needs may never change. Still, if they do, I want to remind them I exist.
Send relevant items. If you see something newsworthy — a study, a legislative decision, etc. — that you think they’d be interested in, send it along with a brief note “Thought this might be of interest to you.” You’re not asking for work, but you are showing them you understand their business.
Be seen where they are. I love this one. Be it LinkedIn forums, Twitter, or at conferences, I love connecting faces to names. I’ve found that regular attendance in which I’m engaging people pays off. Let your ideal client prospects see you participating in the industry.
Carry on a conversation. Again, social media is a great tool for illustrating your commitment to a particular industry or topic area. Not just that, you can use any method to engage your prospect in a conversation — email, phone, newsletter, etc. One really great way is to write articles for industry blogs or magazines that your client prospects would read. (Hint: They’re reading the magazines where their own articles are appearing.)
Writers, how do you determine your ideal client?
What ways have you found to attract their business?
How has your ideal client profile changed over the years?