Recently I asked readers How Designers Get More Referrals and in the comment form you can see some designers shared their experiences. As a designer working freelance or running your own design business, your success significantly, or sometimes solely, on how effectively you get more design clients. This is one of the hardest challenges a freelance designer faces, and it’s even harder than the actual design work. And it’s not enough to get one client at a time. The real goal is to get more design clients that your schedule is all filled up. Remember that as a freelancer, each time your schedule has an empty spot, you’re losing potential income.
There are two types of clients you should generate business from: existing clients and new clients. Now, the ways to getting business from these two types of clients are different. Tomorrow I will discuss how to get more design clients from new clients.
Here are some effective tips on how to get more design clients from existing clients:
Surely you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule. Let us brush up on this rule, shall we? The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your business is generated from 20% of your customer base. This 20% is made up of your existing clients. These are clients who just keep on coming back for more and gives you continuous projects. So before you go out and look for new clients, make sure to pay attention to clients you do already have.
1. Do your best in every project
One good way of making sure existing clients come back for more is to do your best in every project. Give your best performance to satisfy your clients. Satisfied clients know that looking for one provider after another is a waste of time, so if they’re happy with you, they’re bound to stick with you. The followup job may come right after another, or may come a year later, but as long as the client is satisfied, the next time the need for your services come up, they will definitely go straight to you.
2. Impress and build relationships
Quality is important in keeping clients coming back. But quality should go hand in hand with a good client-provider relationship. If your work impressed the clients but your work and social ethics don’t, your chances of getting additional projects from your existing clients will decline significantly. Clients value quality, yes, but they also like to work with professionals, especially since they don’t get to supervise your work.
So first, make sure to impress them by submitting work on time; submitting ahead of time is even better. Maintain a polite manner of communicating and transacting with them, even when your client is demanding and has seemingly impossible needs. Always show them that you take all their needs into consideration.
As time goes by, if your client does come back already, try to build a relationship. You no longer have to impress them; they are already impressed. Now, you can start being their business partner. Call them up from time to time to ask them if they’re having problems with the website. The point is to always stay in touch with them. You can also inject a little humor into conversations, or you can even steer discussions to different topics of interest. This builds rapport, and the more comfortable a client feels with you, the more projects you will get out of him.
3. Start a newsletter
One good way of staying in touch with them is to start a newsletter. You can do this once you have a number of existing clients in your customer database. This way, you can communicate with all your existing clients regularly and without taking up so much of your time. This is one branch of email marketing. You can prepare one newsletter a month or every two weeks in just a few minutes and send it out – it doesn’t even take that much effort, but it can go a long way. Besides, what’s more professional and organized than having your very own newsletter even as a freelancer?
So what can you put in the newsletter? Give some updates on what projects you have been up to lately, on any new technologies you have mastered and any new services you now offer. You can also offer them seasonal greetings, or perhaps a nice inspirational design portfolio.
4. Make followup offers
You can also make followup offers, and you can inform your existing clients through your newsletter. What are followup offers? These could be any sort of promotion, like a new service they can avail or a special offer such as free maintenance check for their website, discounts on minor updates, and so on.
5. Get referrals and credits
Finally, you can ask your clients if it is possible to put a credit on your work so you can get referrals from them.
Have you implemented any of the above techniques? What have your experiences been?