Yesterday I discuss How to Get New Clients From Existing Clients. Generating new client leads should be a major undertaking for any freelancer. You should never stop seeking new opportunities, but remember that you have to do this without losing sight of existing clients. One effective way of balancing these two is to allot a different time each week on marketing and sales and a different time for existing client work. It’s not hard to generate new leads.
Here are some tips:
1. Make it easy for them to reach you
You won’t believe how many potential clients there are on the market. If you think you can reach them all, you’d better give up on the venture now. You can’t reach all of them – that’s a fact. You can only choose a couple of potential clients you can really market directly to, but for the remaining sea of clients, what you can do is lead them to you. Make them come to you instead. To do this, you have to get your name and contact details out there.
The Contact Me section on your online portfolio with the lengthy, intimidating Contact Me forms aren’t really that tempting. Stick with a simple contact process and make sure to check for and respond to inquiries in a timely manner. Make it easy for potential clients to get in touch with you.
2. Harness the power of word of mouth
Although you can lead clients to you, it never hurts to also try and reach a larger portion of the market. You don’t have to spend so much time and too many dollars on expensive advertising and intensive marketing for your services. All you have to do is to get the spark started and let it grow and spread into a wildfire on its own. We’re now talking about the power of word of mouth.
To take advantage of this, get your family and friends to tell all their friends about your services. Get the word out. Make good use of your address book; send emails offering your services to all addresses on it. If you have resources to spare, you can also consider offering referral fees or other promotions.
3. Offer free consultations
Consider offering free consultations. Some designers hesitate to do this because they tend to be protective over their ideas. But remember that your style and the clients’ need or own business style should be compatible, especially in terms of aesthetics. So it is only natural for clients to want to know whether you’re the kind of designer they have in mind, and the only way they can know for sure is through a consultation. And since you offer it for free, more clients would definitely go straight to you.
After all, free consultations are like presenting marketing bids or proposals, except that the clients come to you asking for an appointment instead of the other way around. This already gives you the upperhand. So the free consultation is definitely a win-win tool.
4. Be a social person
As a freelancer, one advantage you have over the design firms is that you can take advantage of the many social tools and opportunities that only social settings can provide. What are these tools and opportunities?
One tool, for example, is a social networking site. There are plenty of these nowadays, so you can just pick one. The most effective and wide-reaching as of today would be Facebook and LinkedIn. But there are certain ways to use this to expand your freelance work. These should be used properly. For one thing, to avoid being marked off as spam, be a person, not an automatic ad-generating machine. Get involved and use the sites actively not only for your sales and marketing efforts, but also for your personal purposes. This is one place where you can mix professional and personal, business and pleasure.
You can also join forums. You won’t believe the number of people who go straight to forums when they need something. You can also comment on blogs so you can build your links and give more people leads going to your portfolio website.
As for social settings, join clubs and organizations, and always have your card ready as well as a short introduction about what you do. Try not to make it sound too hard-sell though. Make it as personal as possible or tweak it depending on your location or setting.
You can also write articles about design or just to share what you know. Submit these articles to article directories. The idea is to sell yourself, not just your services. Remember that other designers can also offer what you offer, but the way you package yourself as the designer is what will make you stand out and get more design clients.