• Advice

3 tips for attracting and sustaining high-value clients

It started with a random email.

An intern for a major music mogul reached out to me to see if I might be interested in consulting for and editing a book project. She said that she’d read some of my work and contacted me via the email address I included in the blogs’ bio section. She believed that my writing style was a good fit for her boss and that I would not compromise the integrity of his ‘voice’. She concluded the email with her phone number and asked that I call her.

I had to read the email a few times and even after that, I thought it was a phishing scam. So, I Googled her. And there she was with credentials that corroborated the information that she sent me.

Considering that this potential client was someone who I followed when I was younger and who had recently been featured on two different reality TV programs, I knew this was a major opportunity. But, I didn’t want to come across as star-struck or like a groupie; therefore, I waited a few days before I called her back.

We had a delightful conversation that felt more like two lost-friends reconnecting than two strangers conversing for the first time. I got so comfortable talking to her that by the time I hung up, I was pretty sure that the gig was not mine. I knew she was vetting me, but I felt like I overshared and she may have walked away with the impression that I was too informal.

A few weeks passed and nada. I continued freelancing and running my company. Then, I received a pleasant text indicating that she had recommended me to her boss’ manager and that I should expect a call from his LA team. Within days, his manager called. She proceeded with a series of questions—most of which were about confidentiality, current projects, availability and pricing.

Fast forward through a few more emails and editing samples and I was offered the contract. I worked directly with the client and his team to complete his book project. After the project concluded, we stayed connected and his team has subsequently recommended several other clients.

My client, by definition, is what many would refer to as the coveted high value, or ideal, client. [Please note that I do not subscribe to the idea that any client is low value—all clients are valuable]. High value clients are ones who are industry captains, influencers, celebrities, high-profile, and to be brutally honest, people who can afford higher-end pricing and services. Although, this particular client was my most visible high value client, he was not my first.

Some of you may be thinking, “Why you?” I know it’s not a slight to my character or my work; it really is a fair question.

Up until a few months ago, I did not have a website. All of my clients were word-of-mouth or referrals. So, I can’t say, in all honesty, that it was a stellar marketing plan or advertisements that lured these clients in and kept them coming back. Instead, I credit my ongoing success to these three things:

Authentic Lead Generation

Like anything, there has to be a starting point or a way to initiate leads or sales with high value clients. Some people will do this via e-newsletters or sharing content via list building. Others will take out digital or print ads. For most of us, this can get to be very expensive and time consuming, but authentic lead generation doesn’t have to be.

There are two mediums that are often not leveraged enough—blogging and vlogging [video blogging]. If you write about or speak about topics that you are passionate about that also reflect your business offerings then you are, potentially, going to generate leads. The key is being authentic. I would never recommend blogging or vlogging exclusively for sales, but be mindful that you never know who is reading or watching your work. Give people a chance to learn more about you and your services without coming across as preachy or engaging in a hard sale. You may offer a service that someone is in need of; as such, always try to include a brief bio and contact information. I am convinced that had the intern not read my blogs, I never would have been on her radar.

Fair Pricing

This one is tricky. You don’t want to over/under sell your services. The key is fairness. If you have a high-quality product, people will pay for it. I am not a fan of multi-tier (or scale) fees where certain clients pay one amount and other clients pay another amount for the same, exact service. I charge my clients the same amount, unless someone needs a scholarship because they can’t afford my rate. In other words, I don’t believe in adding upcharges for high value clients. Let’s be honest, depending on a client’s industry and field, his/her yearly salary or net worth may be a matter of public record, so it may be tempting to price gouge, but don’t. I actually believe that transparency and fairness in pricing keeps clients coming back and referring their other high value friends and colleagues. It has become an extension of my reputation.

Using Discretion

A Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) can be your best friend. High value clients value privacy, exclusivity and discretion. In many instances, I am asked to sign an NDA. In other instances, I offer to sign one. Why? In this day and age of social media ‘leaks’ and an ambiguous line between public and private lives, I want my clients to know that confidentiality governs everything that I do. Because I am not in the epicenters for my industry (NY and LA); I am a bit of an outlier. High value clients need to know that they can trust me. If having another legally binding document on file reassures them that I am a good fit then “let’s do it.”

Remember, attracting and sustaining high value clients may take some extra time, but be persistent and be real.

Tyra Seldon Tyra Seldon is a former English Professor turned writer, editor and small business owner. Her writing addresses the intersections of race, gender, culture and education.