How to attract the right clients

Attracting the right clients can be tricky. Especially when you’re new, and you can’t afford to be picky. Before you know it, you’re working with anyone who will pay you, and your portfolio is full of projects you didn’t even enjoy making.

And worse? Many of the clients you’ve been working with are driving you crazy!

But how do you attract the right clients? How do you attract the people you actually want to work with?

Establish your true target audience

If you don’t know who you want to work with, you can’t attract them. You need to have a clear audience in mind, and know what they are looking for. Seems simple, right?

It’s a little harder than a lot of business trainings makes it out to be. If you’re brand new in business, you basically have to invent an imaginary client and write pages and pages about what TV shows she watches and what color she paints her fingernails.

When you’re new, that’s not a bad place to start.

After being in business a while, you’ll notice that no client you ever work with will live up to your imaginary client, and you’ll always feel like you’re not reaching the people you really want to work with. This can feel really discouraging.

That’s why, you need to figure out who you actually enjoyed working with, and what you enjoyed about it.

And it’s likely not the person who fit 90% of your imaginary client on paper, it’s likely someone you didn’t expect.

You see, the problem with many of these ideal client profiles is that they’re based more on superficial things. But when it comes down to clients you enjoy working with, they may not even come close (they don’t even watch Supernatural!), but there’s another factor that made the project enjoyable. You need to find what that is.

Maybe the client was respectful of your expertise, and let you take control of the project. Or maybe it was the opposite and you and the client worked really closely together and created something amazing.

Communication style was likely a factor, you both just “got” what the other was saying with minimal explanation.

Simply liking the same TV shows or design aesthetic does not make a client a good fit for you, and does not lead to an enjoyable project. It’s important to really examine what made your favorite projects your favorite, and establish what personality traits, communication styles, or other attributes your REAL favorite clients have. Those clients are who you want to attract.

Branding

If you’re reading this, you’re likely a designer, and understand how important establishing a brand is. A bright, quirky brand will attract clients who want similar. A clean, minimalist brand will attract clients who want minimal designs. Your branding sets the tone for what it will be like to work with you.

But branding isn’t just the design. Branding encompasses your design, copy, images, conversational tone, and basically everything you put online.

If you’re a sweetheart on your website, but your Twitter is full of snark, you’re creating a disconnect. You have to create a consistent brand across all platforms, so that your message is clear to clients, and you bring in clients who resonate with your brand.

When you look back at who your real favorite clients are, you can look at ways that your brand can draw in similar future clients.

For example, if all your favorite clients are calm, respectful people, your brand should match that. You should discourage high-maintenance, stressed-out people from even contacting you, by creating a calm environment with your brand.

Or maybe you like high-energy clients. There’s nothing wrong with that. But then you need to make your brand high-energy to draw similar people in.

Like attracts like when it comes to branding.

And while you may not want to exclude or scare off clients who might not fit your brand (because, money), by not having a solid and clear brand you’re not attracting quality clients.

When your brand is clear, and matches the clients you actually enjoy working with, you’ll attract more of the same.

Positioning

Positioning and branding go hand-in-hand. Your branding says a lot about your positioning, and your positioning determines how you brand yourself and your services.

If you are trying to be affordable, your branding and position should reflect that. If you’re trying to be high-end, your branding and positioning need to be top-notch.

How do you know where to fall?

First, you need to evaluate your competition. Don’t dwell on what they’re doing, or how they’re doing something better than you are, but look at what they’re doing right, and figure out how you can apply it to your business.

Choose a focus for your business. Without a clear focus, no one knows what you do or who you want to work with. You can’t be everything to every one, so niche down and figure out your focus. And stick to it! It takes some time for people to catch on.

Figure out what sets you apart. You have a unique combination of skills, use them to stand out from the crowd. Are you ace at communication? The best hand-letter on the internet? Well-versed in nutrition making you the BEST designer for nutritionists? Figure out your special abilities and use them to your advantage!

Establish your value and pricing. Figure out how much you need to make, and position your business to meet or exceed those goals. There’s a market for every price point. You just need to position your business properly.

Reaching out

If you build it, no one will come. That’s pretty much how the internet works. For some reason, potential clients don’t telepathically know that you’re now open for business.

You have to bring clients to you.

Engaging with potential clients on social media is a great way for them to get to know you (and you them), before you ever make a sale. This establishes trust, and makes the sale infinitely easier when it comes time.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Twitter and Facebook groups for attracting the right clients. I’m able to help people with simple problems, and get a feel for how they communicate. When they’re ready to invest, you’re at the top of their list, because you’ve already proven yourself helpful and they “know” you.

By meeting clients online on social media, you should look to be helpful and not salesy. No one wants someone they just met shoving products or services in their face and demanding they buy. But when you are generous, helpful, and show you know what you’re talking about, clients will be drawn to you.

And even if they’re not ready to hire you, they might know someone who is. The power of referrals is amazing.

So get out there, and make yourself useful. You’ll attract the right clients through your social media interactions.

Ready to attract the right clients?

Attracting the right clients is no easy task if you’re not even sure who the right clients are! You have to figure out who you really want to work with, on a deeper level than favorite color or TV show.

When you have established your favorite (real) clients, you can craft your brand and position your business to attract them. But they won’t find you via ESP, you must make the effort to get out there, show you care, and draw them in.

So get to work. Update your website, brand, text copy, whatever you need to do to draw in and attract the right clients.

Ready to create a business you love and that actually makes you money?

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Originally published at erineflynn.com on March 16, 2016.

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