I’ve been in the web design business for twenty years now and unfortunately I’ve made many mistakes along the way, which is normal and to be expected and it’s also beneficial provided that you learn from them. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is in securing a client, be it a one off project or a much longer term one and then not following up with them for referrals. One of the best sources for future clients are your current and past clients and the best part is, it doesn’t take much to please a former client when you follow up with them. A nice short note, a birthday card, a congratulatory tweet or a “How’s Things?” call, can all go a long way in keeping you in the forefront of their minds for future projects.
It’s The Little Things Matter
People are moved and touched more than you realise by the little things. A quick email sharing a particular article you found interesting and which you think they will be interested in. A handwritten card, a quick email regarding a new product or service you are offering, a link to new software you thought might work for them, a small note tell them they’re awesome, a hand written thank you card, will all mean a lot if it’s done in an authentic way.
Clients Are Actually Referral Generators
Existing clients can be great sources of new referrals, mainly because they are happy with your products or services. To enable them to become referral generators keep your current clients informed and updated about all the different types of work that you do, outside of the work you do for them. Offer them rewards and incentives for referrals this needn’t be a monetary reward in fact offering to take a client out to something that interests them is one of the best as you get to spend time with them and cement the relationship. Keeping connected results in more clients for you, so keep touching your existing clients.
Touch Clients Often to Stay On Their Mind
This is most especially true if the client was a short-term project based client, by sharing information with former clients, sending them periodic information about what you’re doing, things you’ve achieved, as well as congratulating them on their achievements and life milestones, you’ll stay on their mind. When they think of a project that involves the work you do, you’ll be the first one they think about.
How’s Things Call
This is perhaps the simplest and yet most effective method of generating new work and new referrals and once again involves touching your client, this time all you need do is pick up the telephone and call them up and ask them “How’s things?”, people love to talk and by giving them the opportunity you’ll find that they will say things like, I was just thinking about you, I’ve this project you might be interested in, oh I came across someone that needs your help. Try it, this one tip will amaze you, I know it amazed me the first time I tried it and thanks to BLM for teaching this and many other wise things to people like me.
Give Referrals to Get Referrals
If you’re like me, occasionally you’ll come across someone that would make a perfect client for one of your existing clients. In such cases introduce them to one another as the greatest compliment you can give an existing client is a new client of their own. I know a lot of business people network, I do and I work predominantly with businesses that network. I share my referrals on this basis, my clients always get preference on any referrals I have, then come the people that give me referrals and then the people I network with and like.
People Live Busy Lives
Many clients actually mean to contact you to talk about a new project but life just keeps getting in the way this is why the “how things?” call works so well. If you are the one who reaches out, they’re much more likely to follow through with a new project. They just got busy and kept putting the idea of the new project on the back burner. You can help move new projects to the front burner by proactively contacting your clients on a regular basis.
Take It Easy
It’s important to follow up without being irritating. Don’t bombard your client or past client with continuous streams of emails. As a service provider, you’re in a different place than an email marketer, and while you do want to grow and develop your prospects list, once someone is or has been a paying client, if you bother them daily with marketing messages they’re just going to tune out.
Remember to segment your audience. Short-term project clients should be on a different email list than current paying clients. Both should be on a different list than prospects.
Prospects you want to contact at least weekly, if not daily. Current clients you can get away with contacting at least monthly. Past clients you may only want to contact every 30 to 90 days. It depends on your audience, but one thing is for sure, following up with style and class will convert them all over again and again.