What I’m reading: The Illustrated Mahabharata
What I’m listening to: You’re the Best Thing About Me by U2
At this writing, I’m back at my desk and trying to get client work finished. I intend to head back to my parents’ house next week. My father has stabilized (remarkably), so I felt it safe to head home for a while. My Christmas happened finally, and the tree is down and the decorations stored for eleven more months.
Time to market.
As promised, I’m back with another Monday episode of Marketing Monday. The ideas are simple, and some of them may feel right for you. Not all will, and that’s okay. We’re all different, as are our businesses. Use what appeals.
Today’s Marketing Move:
Know who isn’t a client.
If someone tried to sell you a sled dog and you live in Florida, would you buy? Recognize when the need and desire for your product or service isn’t there.
Ask yourself of every potential client: “Do they ever buy this type of product/service?” If the answer is no, move on. But it’s more than that: it’s knowing if the fit is right for you, too.
So how do you know when a client isn’t your client? Here are a few clues:
They never respond. Ever. Not to your initial email, not to any of the four follow-ups you’ve sent. You can continue in hopes that they may someday hire you, or you can pick up the phone and gauge their response directly.
They keep dangling the carrot. The prospect I had for four years kept promising to call after the conference. I did one better — I sent him a reminder. Then a second. Each year, silence. Each year at the next conference, he’d express regret and tell me how busy he’s been. So I stopped. If he’s too busy to make time to shovel some work my way (and lighten his own load a bit), he’s not a serious prospect. He knows where I am if he needs me — I won’t send anything else (if that sounds harsh, think of it as removing unwanted email from his in box).
They’re kicking the tires. For me, it’s a red flag when a prospect mentions they’re talking with a few other writers, particularly if it’s in response to my rate. That’s someone who doesn’t understand how to hire a writer, which is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but who is leading their search with price. Moreover, the mention of other writers sounds like they’re hiring an employee — I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not start any working relationship with a client who is “selecting” me from a pool of candidates or have me compete with any other freelance writer based on price. I sell quality. If price is the main focus, the relationship is doomed from the start.
The need is too vague. If they cannot describe their project summary in under three minutes (minus the details, of course), or if they say “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know,” they may not be your client. It’s an uphill battle to try pleasing someone who has no idea what he or she wants, or can’t convey it in a simple summary. “I just need you to help me with brand awareness” is like saying “I just need you to increase my income threefold using nothing but matchsticks.” It’s an impossible target.
Writers, how have you identified prospects, or even clients, who weren’t really your clients?
Have you had to break up with a client because they no longer fit? If so, how did you handle it?
How do you qualify your clients? What questions do you ask?