This shorter than usual post was inspired by a great question on Quora about how to get new clients. Although my original answer was for a web design company, most of my ideas are relevant whatever industry or profession you are in. Here is my answer.
If you’re struggling to grow, I can tell you, you’re not alone! I know that this won’t make you feel much better, but business, especially entrepreneurship and freelancing, is for those that are strong of mind and spirit. There are days, weeks and months of highs and lows, but keep remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me, as a longtime entrepreneur, it’s the freedom.
Here are a few ideas for you to think about and action:
Whatever ideas, tips, suggestions you read or hear about, it is only in the action that you will make a difference. So when you’ve finished reading this post, stop surfing the web and start planning your actions. We all go looking for answers, but only a few of us act on them when we find something useful. Be the exception and beat the competition!
As an aside, this is why my book “Winning Customer Centricity: Putting Customers at the Heart of Your Business – One Day at a Time” is in a radically different format from every other business book out there. It has 50 chapters, but each one is only two pages long! Two pages of objectives, actions, examples and ideas, as well as an inspiring quote and a fun cartoon. It makes learning fun again. Isn’t that what we all want?
Now back to the answers:
Who were your Past Customers?
Let’s start with where you are today, or were yesterday. What were your past customers’ similarities? Go out and find more like them, using the same method they used to find you.
Was it word of mouth? Then ask for recommendations from them and your closest network. Was it through LinkedIn? Then make some new connections that are similar to them. Reach out to a segment of those who are most like your past customers and you think may have similar needs.
Get Intimate with your Current and Past Clients
Ask your current clients, or those for whom you have just finished a project, if they need anything else? Ask them if they know anyone else who may need your services. They have just seen you in action and assuming they are happy with the result, they are probably happy to share their experiences with others. If they don’t have any ideas, then at least get a quote from them that you can share on your website.
Then Analyse their profile and develop a persona of your ideal client, if you don’t already have one. You can use my 4W™ template to help you with this task. Remember that the 4Ws stand for WHO, WHAT, WHERE and most importantly of all WHY. Often it is in the WHY that you will get ideas about who and where else you can go looking for work.
Go Online and Find People Talking about your Category or the Type of Work you do
Quora is a good place to start. Answer questions so you get noticed and appreciated for your wisdom. (hope I’m impressing you with my ideas here! )
Next check the usual social media platforms and again find discussions about what you offer. Reach out to anyone who says they’re frustrated, angry, unhappy etc. Understand why they are saying this and then offer a solution.
We all love people who come to us with solutions rather than problems, don’t we. And we forget that many executives haven’t got someone else to turn to. Be that person.
Offer a Free Analysis of Potential Clients’ Websites
This was in answer to the industry in which the person who asked the question was working. But you can offer potential clients the chance to experience your work for free.
Free is one of the most popular words on the internet, so why not make use of it? But don’t overload your response by providing too much detail. Give too much and they won’t need to hire you, they will be able to follow your suggestions and do it themselves. (And I stand guilty of this I know!)
Provide a few ideas about things that need changing, but don’t give the solution too. End with a comment like “there’s a lot more I could help you with to make your website shine, but it would be too long to write here in detail. Let me know if you’d like to chat.” Then pitch them with your solution when you have the person on the line.
I use this myself. I offer the mini C3C Evaluator™ tool for free and charge for the full quiz. People who try it still get tremendous value and clear actionable results, but of course the full tool would provide much more depth – plus a free advisory session with me to discuss next steps. All this for $99 when my rates are more than five times that, I’m sure you can see that they are getting a bargain, and me a very happy potential new client!
Perhaps the best tip of all, is this last one – for now; I have many more I can share of course. Go back to everyone who responded to your outreach but said no. Perhaps it was no then, but could be a yes now. However don’t pester them with daily or even weekly emails. Wait a month or more before reaching out again. Also, go back to everyone who didn’t respond. These days, we receive so many messages that we sometimes delete without reading, or they end up in our spam folder. Send a second and third follow-up email, again waiting a month or two between each.
Hopefully these five topic areas and tens of ideas will spark some inspiration and more importantly ideas for action in you. Print this off and read it whenever you are in a low spot on your Business curve. And of course, you can reach out to me for a whole lot more. I’m Denysech on Skype. However, if you do reach out there, please say why you are connecting as I get anonymous connection requests every day – and refuse all from people I don’t know! Thanks.