How do I attract new clients?
After a year and a half of work with marketing efforts in social media, web development, and registering a trade name, the work load is still low due to the saturation of audio engineers. I realize businesses don't grow over night, but this is frustrating. What steps do I need to take?
Contact your previous clients and ask them to write their recommendations on professional networks ( LinkedIn ), a review on Google Business and on your web platform, ...
- Register and join a local professional network ( BNI GroupeReso ...)
- Use social networks to be a blogger influencer ,
use social networks facebook, Google+ , twitter ...
Stay in touch with your customers even when the work is completed, in order to control their satisfaction over time and to show them that you are always there for them
Buzz will make the work !!
If this is a crowded market, you should determine a sub-segment where you can differentiate yourself, either in effciency, reliability, cost or experience. Preferably make a strong statement about your being at par with the best in the business. Make sure you have some basis, data or background to support your claim. Then you have to see if the size of the segment is big enough to support this smaller group of niche service providers and if the demand is growing. If the market is too small and even the specialized ones are many, you may have a real problem. Make sure you do not price yourself low just because this is initial phase you may be under pressure to get business. When it comes to services, people prefer to go to the expensive as they associate that with quality. They may then negotate if necessary. Hope it triggers some thinking.
You need to be good at your job, people will always refer you on, visit your local chamber of commerce with your portfolio.
Charge your regular fee, but to make the client/friend feel special include a discount % in your offer. That should make them understand the value of your services and make them feel special at the same time.
Next step - increase sales!
Easiest way - let the targeted customers get your benefits as soon as possible.
Free services is good approach but you need to make sure the "free" is for converting customers (marketing) and not a sales model.
Now - if you can't really add value to your customers, the "free" approach will just burn your pocket
In an economic climate where hiring someone online at a discounted budget is truly the easiest thing in the world to do, you have to define your specific value proposition and then assign the monetary value to that. If you work with clients who value your ability to come into the office, then make that a part of your service package. You didn't happen to mention what industry you are working on, and some industries struggle with marketing and social media, and others think they know everything and you're just telling them something they already know. Work with people that value your work, and list all the work you've done for free as experience on your LI profile, as a case study on your website, or on your portfolio site.
Don't forget about good old fashioned face to face networking. Get out there and shake someones hand, start making actual relationships with businesses and see if you can partner with a local company for exclusive rights. Google local trade shows in your area and start selling your behind off. You can have the most amazing website in the world, and a million 'friends' on Facebook, but you need to target your clients for something like that.
S.G. what I can recommend to you is started working on building a network. Some I ideas that I can think are:
Going to different live music venues as and when you can.
Introduce yourself to local musicians/bands, local music teaching institutes, etc
Go and meet other audio engineers and try to learn how do they get their business and about their contacts and try to tap in.
Get the phone numbers of all the music industry professionals, music companies, A &R, etc, etc and call them right away and tell them why they should do business with you.
Personally I recommend calling people and knocking on every door you think that needs your service. ROI is exceptional.
Social Media. etc are excellent but they all are kind of form of ad where in you are waiting for someone to see you and that of those someones, few might need your service.
For a niche that specific and limited audience it is always better to reach them rather than expecting them to reach you.
Call them up, right now!
In my experience...You mention "saturation." If you haven't already, determine what you do differently (or better) than everyone else and highlight that. The market may be saturated with good audio engineers, but not with "great" ones or with ones who specialize in ________.
Talk to everyone. I'm not suggesting you lead with your elevator pitch or that a conversation will even get around to "what do you do?", but sometimes they do. At a minimum, you had a nice conversation with someone. Best case, you handed them your card.
Along the same line, I recommend you get some hats and shirts made. In the course of a day, you may run across hundreds of people. Now when you stand in line at the coffee shop or hardware store, you give people something to talk with you about.
Finally, be patient. Easier said than done when there are bills to pay, but I've had people contact me months (and in a few cases years) after I originally spoke to them. I figured that when I didn't hear from them right away, it was a wasted effort. Instead, I realize that I was planting seeds.
First, format your business. Define what you offer, what differentiates you from your competitors in the space, how you are unique.
Second, Cultivate relationships with your potential market. People are not interested in pain points. they are interested in value points. Frame your value in context of THEIR outcomes not yours.
Third, Do not define price until you full understand what your potential client wants to achieve.
Fourth, NEVER compete on price. N-E-V-E-R.
Fifth. Always compete on value ONLY.
Sixth, list in detail your understanding of what the prospect wants
Seventh, Review the list with the prospective client.
Eighth - Define exactly on your list what the prospective client wants most and define in within the context of what you estimate will be the length of time required to deliver expected value.
Ninth - review the Eighth with the prospective client
Tenth - Offer the client a price range. If the client likes your offer but wishes you do discount the price. NEVER discount price. Decrement the value. In other words "for the price you are willing to invest, you will receive this range of value. More value, the higher the investment.
Once your prospective client accepts your offer, begin NO work until a down payment is paid as earnest money. No down payment, no work. Make certain the payment clears your bank. Once payment is cleared begin.
Document every minute detail leading to the engagement. Deliver the work in detail. Keep copious notes on any changes made.
Take this approach and assure you are paid. People will respect you as a business person. You get paid and anything you give for free happens ONLY in context of the agreement/contract signed by both you and the prospective client. DO NOT BEGIN WORK without all of your documents signed and returned to you.
Format your business. Format your value. Format your payments and you will not only get business but you will also receive referrals and repeat business. Stand firm on this and never deviate if you want to eliminate free and be paid for your service.
Celebrate after the check clears your account. Celebrate after the work is completed. Celebrate after the client provides you will final payment and a testimonial compliant with Federal Trade Commission guidelines on testimonials.
Hope this helps.
Emphatically, without distinction backed with evidence you are a commodity. Therefore step one is crystalize you compelling competitive distinction and then all of your brand voice and messaging will be on point.. on brand...through all of your marketing and sales channels and you will begin to draw and attract prospects. The right prospects.
Recommendation: check out Simon Sinek's "The Golden Circle" on youtube. Very powerful and insightful.
You offer the free service for a period that is within your comfort zone for clients to evaluate your work. After the agreed period lapse and clients see value in your work you can negotiate a payment then on.
Everyone seems to be an expert on this. Here's an oversimplified 10-step plan:
1.) Close the doors to "business" and re-focus / re-plan.
2.) Get a plan. Do a consolidated 1-page business plan if necessary.
3.) Clearly determine your service offerings (core product/service)
4.) Establish your differentiator(s)
5.) Identify your target market (stemming from who's already working with you)
6.) Develop your value proposition (features + benefits)
7.) Set your prices
8.) Work the plan.
9.) Celebrate your 1st paying client as a win by doing something nice for yourself.
10.) Let folks here know if you need help working through this. Nobody achieves true success alone.
Try to become more personally visible...Make appointments to see people in person...Write articles in local newspapers about what you do and what you are trying to achieve...Frequent Chamber meetings in your area, ask to speak briefly on a topic..
I always give sales people the following example: Call on 10 new potential clients, if you get opportunities at 5 and close 3 then you are Batting .300 and they are Hall Of Fame numbers...You already have most of the marketing done, now you must start selling all the time...Perhaps you wish to hire someone on a commission basis, or hire a sales pro as a partner...
Richard Stern-Suggest you attend networking groups who have client members who could be potential clients. Next offer to do a presentation to those groups.
Bring a Media Kit of the services you provide along witha Link to your Web Site
Regarding how to stop working for free: When you are new in a profession or new to a market, there is often a tendency to take on business to build a portfolio or references. I was having a similar discussion with a friend of mine who is trying to build a freelance web site design service; she's got 4 "free for portfolio" projects that are eating her alive right now and she's not getting paid. Just as you've had from others, my suggestion was to first establish a fair top rate per single hour for services, for mathematics let's say it's $100 per hour. Now you have these options once you have established value:
1. "My reduced rate for reference/portfolio projects is $50 per hour, with a minimum of X hours" or, since a lot of free projects start from doing good "my non-profit/giving back rate is..."
2. "I would estimate your project at 10-15 hours of work @ $100 per hour. Since this is our first opportunity to work together, I will lock the project at 10 billable hours and any time beyond that is my contribution to what I hope will be a developing relationship"
3. "My rate per hour is $100; I discount that to $80 in 10 hour blocks and to $65 in 50 hour blocks. When I contract for a block of time, I bill 50% down to start the project, 25% at agreed to completion point and 25% when totally complete. Since this is our first project together, I will apply the $65 rate to the 10 hour block purchase option"
Any discounted or free time you contribute to a client needs to be thought of as marketing dollars, so the other limit to set is what % of your revenue is to be spent in marketing, and what % of that is to be goodwill services? Then, given that your discounted/free service is marketing, what's the expected return in new additional business?
It is a tough place to be in. The best way to go is to start saying No in some cases. The other thing to do is focus attention on the nature of Uniqueness. What do you do or provide that is Unique. If you cannot articulate that, you will be in the camp of those who offer what a friend of mine calls "Better Sameness." To many people offering the same thing and unable to articulate what you do that is Unique.
i was feeling a very similar frustration this week too. My problem is being new to freelancing but not the industry so it's been hard for me to work with people that under value my work so I just don't work with them - but I need the experience. So, with that said, you're getting the experience and now it's time to move to getting paid. everyone has given good advice and I have one more piece, a video to watch on this blog: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/how-to-raise-your-rates/
Value. Reiterate the Value that you bring to them, and setup expectations. As far as finding new clients, have you tried Fiverr? I have found Fiverr a great way to offer low end services to start off, and when you reach the second tier there, you can increase your offerings while increasing your client base. For example, offer a $5 audio clip or something, and have better paying "extras" around the gig.
Show value with reporting so they may see the ROI they are getting.
It's hard to answer without knowing exactly what services you offer, but will give you a some generic advice that has helped me a lot:
1. Align yourself with a sales person. Find someone you trust who can sell you and give him a cut of the business. This can even be a company that knows how to generate and follow up on leads, but lacks the professional expertise. It is better to get 50% of a large payment than 100% of nothing.
2. From my experience selling yourself directly to customers is problematic. You should have other professionals recommend you, and that way you gain automatic credibility. Make it worthwhile for other professionals to recommend you: send them clients, give them a fee for every deal that comes from them, and in general keep in close contact.
3. Find some reference customers. Do something for a small fee or free and get a good reference. Very important.
Hope this helps.