How to Land Clients by Pre-Qualifying your Prospects
You’re a freelance designer trying to grow your client base. These tips will help you pre-qualify your next creative freelance engagement. You need to determine if they will be a good fit for you.
Do you want to learn how to land clients vs single project one-offs?
Are you surprised how hard it is to get ongoing steady work? This is a common complaint of creative freelancers. Yeah it sucks. If you want to want to make more money freelancing it’s all about what projects you choose to take, and the people you choose to work with. These decisions are the difference in how successful you’ll be making money and making a living in this industry. Forget single projects and land steady work with clients. Yes finding the best fit with prospects is not easy. You need a strategy for grow your freelancing business.
1. Designer Tested?
How much experience do they have working with designers and creative people? Ask them how many projects they have completed with other freelancers and or design agencies. You’ll know right away if they’ve been ‘primed’ by past experiences.
2. Client Responsiveness
Are they responsive to your initial questions? Do they seem to take FOREVER to respond to your inquiries of any kind? Are they willing to complete your Creative Discovery questionnaire in a timely manner? If they are evasive or too busy to communicate, it’s a bad sign of things to come. Gauging responsiveness will help you learn how to land clients.
3. Personality & Vibe
How did you connect with them? Did they call or email you? How was the initial conversation when you both spoke? This personality connection can be a critical factor for recurring ongoing work and how to land clients, not just projects.
4. Respect for your Expertise
Do they have a general respect for Designers on the whole? If they do not even understand the value of a strong visual brand, how can respect the value of your expertise? Very important stuff. Ask them about their favorite brands in the market today, see how they respond. You’ll know if they respect branding by the answer they provide. Do they believe designers should be working on Spec? I hope not!! This is the AIGA’s position on speculative work.
5. Meet Face to Face
Make sure you ALWAYS meet with your prospects face to face before getting into bed with them on a creative project. If they are not local, then set up a Video Skype or Google Hangouts session. This is a must, a phone call does not cut it. Otherwise it’s just guesswork if it will be a good fit for you both.
People work with people they like, it’s that simple. But it goes both ways. Do not follow the money, follow your gut as to whether this prospect is someone you want to spend time with, and someone you want to kick your ass for. Is this even a client you WANT to land? Once you shake their hand and spend 20 minutes talking, you should have a good idea.
6. Are they Decisive?
Clients that cannot make decisions are a nightmare. It’s not that easy to determine this in a prospect, but you’ll identify this failing if you read between the lines as you communicate with them. How organized they are with what they want from you is a big indication.
If they cannot make up their minds, everything takes 2x as long, and therefore your effective hourly rate drops like a rock. See previous post ‘Do you want Fries with that Logo?’ to better understand the implications of indecisive clients. Being Decisive is better than being Right, believe it or not.
7. Start-up or Established?
Is this a one person Start up or a company doing business today? I personally like working with funded start ups, but it’s not for everyone. If they are a startup, make sure a majority of the first 6 criteria are met to your satisfaction. Also, it’s a great sign if they have an impressive product or service that feels like a home run.
BONUS: Extend the Client Relationship
If you enjoyed the experience with this client and once the logo is complete and delivered, now is your time to remind or introduce this client to all of the other wonderful skills you have to offer.
A logo is only the beginning of what this client will need to present a consistent brand to the world. Let them know you also provide additional Creative Services, both online and offline, such as: A. A Full Stationery System package (business card, envelope, and letterhead design, also in digital formats. i.e.: MS Word, etc). B. A printed Brochure to promote their company, C. Advertising Design, D. Trade Show Booth design, E. If this client has a physical product, Label & packaging design, and of course, F. Website design and development.
Because I’ve been in the Design industry for over 25 years, I happen to have experience in most all of the main Print & Web needs a client has. Remember the Logo is just the beginning of the relationship, so if you want to create more ongoing creative work from this client, now is the time to pitch more work. Always try to land Clients instead of one-off logo Projects.
Please share any tips you may have to turn a one-off project into a client with recurring projects, and how to land clients. Thank you for spending some time with the Creative Junkie today.
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– Your Creative Junkie