Hopefully, you are already mining current and previous clients for referrals and repeat business? If not, do that first! Other than that, below are the 6 biggest mistakes actual graphic designers report they initially made when prospecting for new design clients.
Failing to Target Your Ideal Client
It's a mistake to cast the widest net.
To impress your clients, you need to specialize. It means you want to prospect for new clients that fit your top expertise. These clients will appreciate and pay more for your services. The clients you do specialized work for will advance your skills even further, and be more fun to work for. Also, it's likely these clients will hand you more work. These clients are your ideal clients, a.k.a. dream clients.
If you are going to prospect for new clients you might as well look for the right ones.
Yes, you can choose to take on work also from non-perfect clients that just happen to come your way, but don’t actively seek these out.
Also, as a side note, learn to recognize bad clients. Recognize the red flags signaling them. Decline these bad clients. Or, if you choose to take them on anyway, double or triple your prices so they are worth the extra effort and frustrations they will cause.
Ignoring Your Local Market
It's a mistake to only prospect online.
Many clients prefer working with a local designer. Why? At least initially, people still trust those they can actually meet.
Staying within your culture might also help smoothing everyday business. You and your client will share the same language. You will share the same business practices. Also, from a design perspective, you will also associate the same things to colors, symbols etc.
It's a mistake not to help your community.
Freelancers acquire a big part of B2B business via referrals. Why? People tend to trust members participating in their own community. That counts especially for members consistently contributing to the community in an active, friendly and helpful way.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce, your local chapter of Business Network International (BNI) etc. Get to know and be known in your local business community. Online, join communities your clients are members of.
Networking will grow your business long-term. Don’t pitch, don't spam. Think give, not get.
Ignoring Small Clients or Small Jobs
It's a mistake thinking a small job needs to stay small.
It's simple. Most big jobs start small. Just keep asking if they need something more.
Ignoring Start Ups
Again, it's a mistake thinking a small job needs to stay small.
Businesses just starting don't have anything. Sooner or later they will want the whole shebang – website, logo, ads, brochures, flyers. Just keep asking.
Not Keeping Up Your Marketing
It's a mistake doing the biggest mistake of them all.
Never, never stop marketing! To create steady work you must constantly look for new clients and repeat business. There is no way around it.
Even when you are booming, you must leave time (and some money) for marketing. Just get into the habit of doing some marketing 5-7 days a week. It doesn't have to big. Tweet a useful tweak for Illustrator or email new artwork you are proud off to previous clients, but do something every day!
Understand this. Not keeping up your marketing will doubtless lead to famine periods. Not keeping up your marketing will force you to find new business the desperate, hard, unpleasant way. Heard of cold calling?
On the other hand, keeping up your marketing might even up result in you having a waiting list of clients. Which would you prefer?
That's it, folks!
Are you doing these mistakes? What are your experiences? Please comment below!