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Finding Clients as a New Business or Freelancer

The first big challenge with any business is finding clients. For some this is more difficult than others. For instance, someone selling a physical product in a physical shop would be pretty easy to find for people frequent to the area. Internet businesses will find it a little harder to stand out. PPC, SEO and content marketing are terms you’re sure to have heard before, but what do they actually mean? And how can they help you find work? Do people find work in real life anymore? How do I pitch my services to someone? Obviously this is a huge topic, and one that’s ever changing and evolving. We’re going to do our best to give you the absolute best bits in this blog, whilst diving further in to the future.

The inimitable Gary Vaynerchuck preaches about attention. Attention is the most valuable asset when looking for work. If your potential client isn’t looking at you, they’re looking at someone else. This philosophy forms the basis for all the strategies you’re going to read. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, having only one client source sets you up with a single point of failure. That’s a really bad thing. Multiple lead generators mean multiple job sources, meaning one of your generators can fail and you will still have work coming in. Savvy?

The other thing to consider is that, for the most part, the online world demands you ask for attention. But you have to be subtle, covert. Ask in a way that means your audience doesn’t know you’re asking. Entertain them, inform them, inspire them. The point of the attention isn’t to sell, but to build brand awareness and connect with your audience. Once you have them won over, the selling is easy. First, you’ve got to decide who your audience is.

Decide Your Niche

Deciding on your audience will do two things for you: reduce the amount of work you have to do; make you the expert in your field.

A niche will narrow your focus to one field, meaning there will be fewer clients to keep track of, reducing the sales work you have to do. Bear in mind, the world is unfathomably big. Even by restricting your field of view like this, there will still be more clients than you can likely handle alone (unless you go really niche, but there’s value in that too). Operating this way makes you a specialist instead of a generalist. Generalists will excel at easy and cheap work, and that’s definitely a strategy that can work for some, but specialists are the big time. They’re the ones who get to challenge themselves, work on exciting and envelope-pushing projects. They get a small number of high-paying contracts, and are in command of the most creative and dynamic work in the market. Being a specialist is more difficult, and infinitely more fun.

Being an expert in your field is important. Your clients will come to you for a specific product, with you having proved yourself in that arena in the past. You have a unique voice and style, that’s why they came to you. This allows you to change your business model slightly, as your clients are placing more value in your knowledge or product, not the price. There’s a trade-off, and you get to profit out of it in two ways. Increased prices and more interesting and niche projects.

Once you’ve established your niche, you’ll need to start grabbing that attention.

Make A List

Now you have your niche, making a list of ideal clients should be a lot easier. That’s literally all this step is, a list of your ideal clients. You should do a little research on each one, find out what their standing is in the industry you’re in, find some key contact details, look at any press or media packs they have, and follow them on all of their active social profiles.

What you’re doing here is building as complete a picture of their brand as you can. Being in the loop with what they’re talking about, posting, focusing on and who their key players are will put you in far better stead when it comes to pitching them.

And when we say “know who their key players are”, we mean it. This is where all those social media stalking skills that you’ve spent years honing will come in handy. LinkedIn is usually the safest, and least creepy, way to start. Then you can slowly work your way into their inner circle. In all seriousness, finding common ground with the higher ups will make your sales pitch far less salesy and far more conversational.

Create Templates

Once you’ve got your clients and their life-stories down, it’s time to streamline your workflow. Write-up a template email that can be easily adapted to your needs. This way you’re not writing a bespoke email to each client, but each one is tailored in a way that speaks to each client as an individual. Saving time for maximum effect is what we’re all about here at Studio 24-7.

These templates can run as deep as you like. We’ve included an example for your initial email, but you can have a template for any of the following:

 

  • Positive response
  • Negative response
  • No response
  • Answers to specific questions
  • Answer to price enquiry

 

Pretty much any response you can think of can have an automated response. We would suggested drawing a line at the third or fourth interaction at the most and trying to get face-to-face with your client ASAP. If you can make the link more real than email, they will be more inclined to buy from you.

Remember though, your copy should indicate the value you’re going to bring to them. If you write as though you need work or are trying too hard to sell them something then they will be less inclined to help you out. No one likes a sleazy sales pitch.

Here, Gary Vaynerchuck gives a few good tips on getting your first 10 customers as an online based video production company.

Start Emailing

As surprising as it is, now is time to start contacting your potential clients. Get firing off those initial emails and wait for your responses. But don’t just sit and wait. Continue building your rapport on social media, staying at the forefront of their minds. If you’re posting yourself, commenting, liking and sharing their posts, then you’ll be at the forefront of their minds. If you’re at the forefront of their minds, they’re more likely to think of you when they need someone or something from the space you occupy. If you’ve impressed them, and as (if not more) importantly if they like you, then you’re in very good standing to start getting work from them! But remember to get and hold their attention.

Follow Up

As we mentioned vaguely above, following up is an important part of the process. If no one replies, don’t take that as a rejection. People are busy, and you’re looking to establish a connection, nothing more. Replying to what is essentialy a non-business enquiry may not be the most pressing thing on their list. So, keep the attention on you.

Email again, around a week later with a follow-up “if you missed our last email…” email. This is where you can start to push the boat out. Include a blog post you’ve written that might be useful to them. As a video company, we often send a PDF that tells companies how to produce their own videos with an iPhone. This may seem counter-intuitive, but you will end up gaining their trust as an industry expert (you’ve just taught them something) and their business further down the line as they realise that the video they made on their iPhone doesn’t stack up to what we can do for them.

Get creative with ideas related to your industry. Send a real letter; that will surely stand out. Invite them to a seminar you’re holding for free. A quick Google search will reveal tonnes of these ideas that have already (and not yet) been implemented. A little thought goes a long way.

A Conclusion

Once you’ve identified your ideal clients, it boils down to attention. Both getting and keeping it. After that, selling should be simple. That’s it.

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