My ideal client is tall, dark and handsome…
A new concept has been presented to me this week. Who is your ideal client? I have been under the desperation spell of thinking that I must be grateful for any work that comes my way. While I am happy to be working, I’m not really working on getting the work that I want. I asked my friend Fraser Milne to join me for coffee to discuss freelancing and how to generate business for yourself. Fraser went to Vancouver College of Art and Design with me and has been very successful in generating work, finding clients and promoting himself primarily in web design and photography. I admired his ability to get out there and find his own projects and clients, but I didn’t really understand how he was doing it. Personal charisma? Good head for business? Is it a skill that he can teach others?
Before we even got to our meeting, Fraser gave me a lesson in dealing with clients. He began preparing. Now this meeting was very casual, just some former VCAD students getting together to chat about the business. He prepared for it though as if he were going to a client meeting. I found it very telling afterwards that I did not! Here I am calling him for a meeting, setting these goals for myself and I actually have nothing even written down. No questions, comments, research of my own. I did bring my sketch book and take notes! This is an area that I could certainly improve in. Prepare for your successes. Prepare for your failures too I think.
So…ideal clients! Fraser’s advice was to discover who your ideal client is and then do the research to find out more about them. What industry they are in, how much can they spend, who would you contact in the company, location, are they a new company or have they been around for awhile, and who has the power to say yes and mean it? Next you need to start making a list. You have a much narrower search margin than before, so start digging in and find the specifics. Get actual names and numbers. Make your list big enough that if only 10% are interested that you’ll still have enough to work with.
Cold calling, or emailing. You’re going to call up total strangers and offer your design expertise! I can’t wait! Actually, this scares me so much that it took me two weeks of procrastinating to even write about it! To help with the jitters, script out what you intend to say and practice saying it out loud. Enlist your friends and family to be guinea pigs for you. You’re going to hear ‘No’ more than ‘Yes’ so prepare for hearing it. No matter how many times you get told ‘No’, keep it professional and keep going. One thing Fraser said that I wouldn’t have ever thought of was to reign in your enthusiasm. I think we can all relate to the over-enthusiastic sell. The general response is to grimace and then hang up or click away. In your head you are screaming ‘SCAM!’ pretty loudly. This is no way to introduce yourself.
You’ve made a list, you’ve checked it twice, you’ve decided not to be tooo nice! Now set yourself up with a big glass of water and get to it! How about after you whittle that list down to the ‘Maybe’ pile and the ‘Yes’ pile? What now? Well, we need to follow up and also get organized. Start a contact manager system for yourself that lists each company’s contact details, who you spoke with, and make sure it is clear what type/level of contact you have made so far. Think of interesting ways to follow up with these potential clients. Fraser uses a postcard with an example of his work on it to help promote his services and remind them that he is interested in working on their next project. This is also a great way to give them that bit of personal touch that keeps it from getting lost in the shuffle.
My ideal client? I’m leaning towards smaller businesses with something unique to sell. I love learning something new when I do research for a new project. I do need to go through this process now and get my focus narrowed and then we’ll see where I’m at! This entry is made entirely from processed information directly manufactured by Fraser Milne. Check him out yourself at: