Promising Ways Designers Can Find New Clients
If you had a comparatively new business then the chances are the new clients aren’t going to be beating down your door right away. Following are tested methods for any new or existing design businesses to find new clients. Choose those that you feel are most appropriate to your business and the clientele you want to attract.
Break the Window
Get to know a contact person who will take your message to the decision-maker of the business. Most often, the rapport you share with this mediator and the impression you make on them will determine whether your message is relayed to the decision-maker. This is the most important aspect of reaching a business. Still, the role of the mediator is limited. They can get word of your offer to the decision-maker, but it’s your responsibility to take it from there.
There are a few tricks that will make an impression on the decision-maker and convert them into your next client: make a formal presentation, send informal mail, and back yourself up with recommendation letters from previous clients.
Present a Great Portfolio
As you know, finding prospective clients is in itself a difficult task. And once you find a potential client, you don’t want them to be confused by your portfolio. They should know what your capabilities are in detail.
Your portfolio should be precise, concise and clear. Make sure only your best work and projects are included, rather than everything you have ever done. Elaborate on your abilities and carve out a niche. An excellent portfolio is a requisite for every web designer.
Be a Data Freak
Some designers and freelancers disregard databases to track their interactions with prospective clients. This is a mistake: databases are invaluable. However, you need to manage your database well so as not to lose deals. Maintain your database of leads, and keep track of prospective clients religiously. Track the name, address, email address and phone number of all the potential clients you have ever approached for business, irrespective of the mode by which you communicated with them last. Maybe you didn’t receive a positive response, but the buck doesn’t stop there: follow up. Keep following up until your pipeline of projects is about to become difficult to manage.
This marketing method is most effective for beginners who need to spread the word about their abilities and services. Mailers can lead to your initial contracts. Mail out a brief business card that highlights the services you offer, attached to a detailed brochure that elaborates on the scope of your business and operations. For those who are interested, undertake a formal personal introduction, expanding on the abilities you outlined in your business card and brochure. Relate your abilities to their business’ expansion and streamlining needs. End with a formal request to speak to the decision-maker, or a “call to action,” as it’s typically termed. Without a formal call to action, there is no real point to mailer marketing.
Word-of-mouth referral is the most effective way to attract business deals. A mutual friend or previous client could refer your next prospective client. In my experience, referral clients stick by you. You have a better chance of developing a lasting relationship with them. Request a testimonial and referral from every client you have ever worked with. You may be surprised at the impact this will have.
Trade Fairs and Business Events
Mingle with your colleagues at appropriate industry trade fairs. This modern method of marketing guarantees you will meet many people in your industry. Winning over clients depends on how you communicate and present yourself. But first you must meet them, right? Business events provide ample opportunity for this.
Email Blast Campaigns
Companies in almost every line of business do this, however they get mixed results. I have met people who have generated a good amount of business through email blast campaigns. On the contrary, a few have been ignorant of spam laws and ended up being listed as spammers. If you seek out a professional to perform this service, then you are sure to reap a decent return on investment (ROI). The email you send should include a formal introduction to your business, some of the best pieces of your work and clear contact information that they can use to get a hold of you.
Social functions are not opportunities dedicated to finding clients, but they are effective for that. Being socially active—attending local charity functions, going to informal cocktail parties or joining a racecourse fan club—provides you with opportunities to meet prospective clients. You may not find a potential customer at every function, but don’t miss a chance if the opportunity presents itself. Get to know people, make an impression, and build a rapport: it could soon benefit your career. Always carry your business cards and introductory letters in your pocket. Don’t miss a chance to hand them to people who matter.
Tokens of Appreciation
Appreciating the people who have helped you find prospective clients can add value to your business. Whenever you close a sale or sign a new contract, ask for three referral businesses that might require your services, and offer a token of appreciation in the form of a small discount in return. Include an introductory discount or gift voucher in your mailers and emails. Tell those in your social circle that they can expect a gift for every referral they provide. This could be another successful marketing strategy.
When you have time on your hands and are looking for work, log on to websites where you can bid on projects, such as eLance, Guru and Freelancer. These websites are especially useful for beginners. Even if the payout is not as much as you would like, it’s still better than having no work at all. At the same time, build up your pipeline so that you are eventually paid your worth.
Spread the Link Love
The Internet is the most effective way to find new clients and new work and to be paid handsomely. Advertise your website’s URL as much as possible, linking it to as many relevant pages as you can, especially design blogs, networking websites and anywhere else that you think potential clients visit. The more of a presence you have on the web, the more you will spread word that you are an expert. Being an expert, or at least making people believe you are an expert, will eventually get you the work you are looking for.
Build your clientele by picking up the phone and calling prospective clients. Find the decision-makers; make a short compelling presentation relating your skills to their business needs; and, in a personal meeting, close the sale. Your over-the-phone presentation should be a short, compelling and effective script that describes your capabilities and prior work. Keep the phone conversation short so that it elicits enough curiosity in their mind that they will give you a personal meeting. Emphasize the benefits and improvements you offer to the functioning of their company—be it a better organizational structure, improved reporting, lower attrition ratios or increased sales.
No matter how capable you are in your craft, people need to be aware of your skills and expertise. Write as much as you can in your spare time. Write on your website, be a regular on blogs that would give you a broader reach, and get on social networks. Online popularity will help you stand out from the competition, ensuring that your pipeline is full of future clients.
Get Affiliates and Extend Your Chain
Being affiliated with other businesses is a modern way to build your client database. Famous brands extend their chain of products to other cosmetic and household goods to stay fresh in the memory of customers and to gain the trust of new ones.
Go ahead: become affiliated with other online promoters, and even sell their products. This opens up a new dimension for reaching clients. Build up mutually beneficial relationships with the other websites, and receive beneficial links back to your portfolio, website and blog.
Be Aware of New Businesses
New websites can be the best source of leads for promoting yourself. Use your local contacts to make a list of new and soon-to-be-launched businesses. These businesses are very likely to be looking out for a designer to get them web-ready. You could also approach your local Internet service providers. Most service providers sell bandwidth and hosting services but do not yet have the support services that a web designer offers. Give it a shot: get them on board by offering a 10% commission for every referral. This could become a reliable source of business.
Find prospective clients by listing yourself in local directories. Seek out the most followed local White or Yellow pages in your area. Get to know the most circulated business newspaper, and list your business in it. This approach is old fashioned but, as such, works for a certain demographic.
Price It Up
Pricing yourself much lower than the market rate to attract more business won’t earn you the reputation of an expert designer. Clients may assume that you charge less because your work is sub-par. Don’t set your fees surprisingly low. Instead, make offers that cut your original price short. You could reduce the price for large orders or offer a commission of 5% for every successful referral.
Tap Into Creativity
Put on your creative shoes: challenge yourself to create an application or game that will challenge the world. Upload your creations to your website and to social networks and popular blogs wherever you can to create buzz. Start a contest and invite people to compete against each other on your platform. Tap into their creative side and challenge them. They will be curious to see what you have created. Your popularity on the web will attract business.
Be Good to Competitors
Active involvement in the local media and social circles can help you meet your next client. Being on good terms with your competitors can also be an immense help. There may be times when a competitor is occupied with more work than they can manage and needs to outsource. They may recommend you simply because you were good to them and are a designer. They may ask for a small referral fee, but either way you end up a winner.
Getting to know related businesses can be just as effective. Once they know you, they will recommend you for work. I have received work through more than one such relationship.
Impress Your Customers
You don’t need to go on marketing sprees and client hunts to attract more business. If your current clients have excellent experiences working with you and love what you create for them, they will come back. Make sure the process is seamless and effortless for them. Be available to answer their queries as soon as you can. Complete their projects as if they were your own, and your next project might just come from one of them. Get into their good books so that they are likely to recommend you.
Beat the competition online by seeking out professional SEO services. When you first design your website, ensure that its content is SEO-friendly; however, given the ever-increasing competition online, I suggest you hire a professional service for a month and see the results for yourself. The higher your website ranks on search engines, the more likely you are to land new clients. Visitors to your website are potential clients who you can add to your database.
Family dynamics have impacted my business from the start. Be friendly and humble to all the members of your family, even if they are remotely related. Let your mom spread the word for you, as well as brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. They would probably be happy to promote you at social gatherings. Clients love to employ people who they know and can interact with personally. They are more likely to trust you than a stranger.
Media in All Forms
Advertise your business on local signage and in industry magazines. Get articles you’ve written published, and organize an exhibition to show off your work. Invite leading businesses to a presentation describing how they would benefit from your services. Be humble in your presentation: don’t criticize their existing work. Instead, highlight how you can improve their designs, logos, ads, brochures, business cards, menus and so on. Get on popular radio channels and local cable TV networks. Publish a tutorial explaining how an effective business website can increase sales. The media provides countless opportunities: explore outside the box.
Post about your services regularly on job portals to stay fresh in the minds of potential business clients. Use your creativity to convey the fact that you won’t compromise the quality of your work. You will make a lasting impression on them and will perhaps win their next deal.
Step Out of Your Zone
There may be times when nothing seems to work for you. During these times, surprise your clients. Show current and potential clients that you’ve changed. Let them know your scope is wider than they thought. Learn how to code, write your own content, or add the latest software to your offerings. Step out of your niche and explore!