I want to share with you the method I used to get my first clients. It came to me one morning when I was making breakfast and an egg with two yolks landed in the pan. “Eureka!” (That’s not true, but if makes for compelling storytelling.)
Step 1. Get it Together
Get online and find all the businesses in your area that you’d like to do business with. For me it was architects, landscapers, and interior designers. Favorite these websites and put them into a folder labeled “Potentials”.
Step 2. Pick Up the Phone
Go to these sites and call every one of them. If you’re too afraid to do it, I have news for you; freelancing isn’t your thing. If they don’t have a number then email them. When you talk to them tell the person on the other side that you are a fan of theirs; that you’ve seen their work and would love to come in and interview the owner so that you can write an article about them on your website. Assuming you’re friendly and your voice doesn’t sound like Gilbert Gottfried’s, at least half will be flattered to make an appointment for you. At this stage I do not mention what I do. If they ask I’m happy to tell them, “I’m an entrepreneur and I’m looking for advice on how to run my new business.” There’s nothing wrong with flattery. When was the last time someone complimented you and it made you upset?
Step 3. Preparation and Research
It’s your responsibility to learn everything you can about this client before going into their office. As an entrepreneur you will find that the internet can do more for you then it can for any other profession. Read through their entire website. Go to their social media pages. Find out what’s happening with their company. The more you know about them when you go in, the more impressed they will be.
Step 4. Face Time
Never be late. Before you walk in the door switch your phone to airplane mode. The reason you do this is because you want to record the audio from your visit. If a call comes in your recording will be stopped. You’d be surprised how clear a recording is even when your phone’s in your pocket. When you walk in, introduce yourself with a firm handshake. Be nice to the secretary. I’ve learned that the secretary is the gatekeeper of most companies.
Step 5. Interview
I’ve never met someone that didn’t like to talk about themselves. Maybe they exist. Not with the demographic you’re interviewing though. Be a listener. Ask the owner to take you back to the beginning. Remember, if you’re wanting to do business with them, it’s because they’re successful. Successful people have plenty to enlighten upon us. Take notes on a pad at first. Once they’re comfortable and have started their stories, ask if your can record the conversation. The reason you wait is because subconsciously a recorder at the beginning will hinder how open they are with you. Once they’ve already opened up with you, it’s a lot easier for them to stay relaxed.
Step 6. Who’s Interviewing Who?
What started out as you interviewing them will turn into them interviewing you. The contents of the discussion naturally lead the conversation to, “So what is it that you do?”. Make sure you have your tablet and your website already pulled up. I didn’t have a tablet on my first interview. We used his computer. The reason I say this is because many people like to say, “If only I had “X” device I could do “Y”. That’s a bunch of malarkey and you know it. Your wetware (brain/skills) will always be more valuable than software or hardware. So when you’re asked what you do, make sure to make a good sell. Remember to be casual. You’re not a car salesman. Understand that you may have a long term relationship with this person. Talk to them with respect, but treat them as a friend. This is it. This is how I got my first two major clients. I only had to do three interviews to do so. Before I left their office they had work for me. Those clients have brought me enough work to expand my company to three people. This is great, but it get’s even better.
Step 7. Write Your Heart Out
The thing about being a creative is that it bleeds into all modalities of creation. Do not write a boring article. Write an article so damn good that the owner of the company has no choice but to put it on his/her facebook, twitter, website, LinkedIn. Imagine how Walter Isaacson would write after having a glass of Mangria. Finally, make sure to have the owner or secretary approve the draft before you post it. You don’t have to, but it gives you another opportunity to reach out to them. It’s also the right thing to do.
Step 8. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
When you write your article ensure to include links to the companies site. Write the company name in the heading and at least twice in the body. Whenever someone looks that company up you will come up in the search results.
This strategy is a form of marketing that I’m going to term “MPP”. Multiple Payout Potential. The reason being that there are several ways of being paid out.
- You’re adding content to your site.
- You’re meeting new people. Not just anyone, but successful business owners.
- You’ll learn new things and insights from the interview.
- You’re becoming a better writer.
- You’re creating links and optimizing your SEO
- You will get a new client.
- Your audio can be turned into a podcast
When coming up with a marketing strategy, look for ways to increase your payout potentials. It’s hard to lose when there’s so many ways to win.
Jacob Wiliams provides design and 3D rendering for interiors, landscapes, residential, and commercial projects. You can read more of his articles on his website, and follow him on twitter: @jakedaywilliams