How to land your first client: Marketing strategies that work
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Are you stuck in a rut, wanting to leave your 9-5, but afraid you won't be able to get yourself that first client? Let me tell you, my friends, you can and you will!
Here are my 18 favorite marketing methods to get your business started with a bang!
When I first started out freelancing, in need of a client, I took to my computer and reached out. I emailed my former co-workers, neighbours, and friends etc. to make them aware of what I was now doing and what services I could offer them. These people have to employ people from somewhere and it is reassuring to know the person. If they need work done, the chances are, they will remember you!
Okay, you have all moved on and you probably don’t keep in touch with them as well as you once said you did, BUT there is a strong chance that a handful of your old school buddies are now running their own businesses, working in marketing, need a copywriter. The list goes on. Send them an email, see if your services can be of use to them and they may become a client.
Pounding the pavement
This is a relatively obvious one but nonetheless effective. Yes, we’re talking business cards & flyers. Get out of the office and pop in to some of your local businesses. Pass them a flyer, drop your business card through their letter box. They may or may not need you now, but with any luck they have kept it and when they do you'll be top of their list!
This may be where you seek a professional, BUT worry not, you can improve your SEO yourself. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Those who use WordPress, I highly recommend using the Yoast plugin, it’ll walk you through step by step and make it a darn sight easier. It is really important to optimise your website for search engines to shimmy your way into the top of your audiences search. I highly suggest looking into keywords and how to best use them for your audience.
Have you popped in to your local agency? Do you even know if you have one locally? Open up Google, and search for "local design agencies." Drop them an email with your captivating portfolio. include your rates and make them aware that you can be available for any overflow to their work capacity.
Paid advertising is a very quick way to be seen by a wider audience–it's quick but costly. If used correctly and aimed at the correct audience these can be very successful. Look into Facebook Ads, start with a limited spend to see if it works and adjust as needed. Another option is Instagram stories, free and another form of visual marketing to a large audience.
Discussing with other entrepreneurs, in the last few years Facebook groups seem to be one of the leading ways to get clients. Engage, engage, engage. Provide people with information, give them advice and REAL help. They WILL remember you (and so will others in the group). Be consistent, make a name for yourself and they will hunt you down!
It can seem daunting, but it’s never to early to get networking, especially in person. I am sure there are plenty of online networking events, but you’ll be more memorable in person. Take along your business cards and flyers. Hand them out, to anyone and everyone. Find events that are full of your audience. You don’t need to book a stand, be a host or wait for an invite to get to know likeminded individuals who might be interested in your services. Start now!
Old-fashioned it may seem, but don’t scroll past just yet. Hop on your local paper's website and do some digging. Do they offer paid advertising? Online and in a physical paper? There are still people that prefer to turn the pages, the investment may well pay off.
Similarly to your local newspaper, have a hunt around for some magazines that are aimed at your ideal client/ audience. Do they offer advertising space? Another route to consider is offering them valuable information in return for some advertising space.
This probably won’t rake in clients immediately, but you will definitely start to build a presence for yourself amongst people that are looking to employ you. The more of an audience that you go before, the higher the chances are that someone needs a job doing that you can do!
Along with Facebook groups, this is another really successful way to gain clients. That said, it isn’t always the most useful for your first client. How can you change that? Do a couple of jobs, swap services, get a testimonial, add to your portfolio and ask them to refer you. Heck, maybe even offer them a referral discount! I think it is widely discussed amongst designers that referrals are by far one of the most consistent way of getting new clients.
Have you reached out to others yet? If not, you should! I'm not expecting you to offer them your services (although you could), but let them know your rates and offer them your services incase they are ever working on overdrive. Another option is to collaborate with other designers, get involved with their groups, introduce yourself to their audience, ask if they are interested in doing a podcast etc.
Getting the right people to your website
This is really important. It links back to SEO, but also how you market yourself on social media, where you market yourself, and how effective your marketing is. If you are reaching out to absolutely everyone, the chances are that most of them don’t have any use for what you’re offering. Make sure you know your audience, create an avatar of your ideal client, and remember that person for every piece of marketing you put out there.
Have you got friends on LinkedIn, social media, Behance etc. that are already interested in you? Reach out to them, focus on people who are already looking at you. Talk to people like they have value, like they know you and don’t overwhelm them with an overly long email. keep it short, sweet and let them know how you can help.
Market to marketers
A strategy that probably sounds a little daunting, but have confidence in yourself! You ARE good at what you do - believe it! Market to marketers, hit them with statistics and wow them with your skills. We’re talking, your open rate, conversion rate, the percentage of business generated through…. Prove to them that you can do better than whoever is doing it now!
Build a presence for yourself, comment and engage. Write a good profile summary, add a professional photo and request recommendations. Don’t forget to use LinkedIn’s endorsement feature and check out their job search tools! Another really useful tip I have come across is to use their ProFinder area to advertise yourself as a freelancer. If you are seriously on the hunt for your first client, it may come in handy to pop ‘pro bono’ into your description to draw in one or two clients that can then refer you.
Twitter is probably a very familiar social media platform to most of us. It has many uses: promotion, marketing, connecting with likeminded souls, and networking. But, did you know that many people look to twitter for suggestions. Open up Twitter and search “Hiring a (keyword)” or “Can anyone recommend a (keyword)”. You have just found numerous potential clients. Reach out, tell them you can help, be sincere and drop them a link to your portfolio. Very simple, but can open the doors to so many job opportunities.
It may seem daunting to make the leap and put yourself out there, but clients don’t just come to you. Make a name for yourself and show them that you are the best for the job. Have confidence in yourself and reflect that in your marketing strategies. Friends, go get that first client!!
Katherine Fraser, Owner of Fraser & Co Design, is a professional graphic designer specialising in logo, brand and marketing design for small businesses and bloggers. Thriving to make your business shine above the rest. Get you noticed. Leave a mark. She is here to re-vamp your existing branding, perfect something brand new, insuring you attract your ideal audience.
She focusses on getting straight to the heart of your brand-because that's what sells it. Pinpointing your brand identity, guided by what you believe in, who you want your brand to speak to and what you ultimately want to achieve. Inspired by what makes your business unique and the people you want to reach, she uses this in-depth information to create the visual identity to make your brand strike a chord and stand out. You can learn more about her at www.fraserandcodesign.co.uk.