Worried About Finding Your Next Client?
By Drue Lawlor, FASID
Director of Coaching, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
One of the most common worries of most designers is “where will I find my next client?” Before you worry about the answer to that question, let me ask you – who are you looking for?
Who is your ideal client? If you are not able to identify at least 5 characteristics of the clients you are trying to reach, you’ll probably attract anyone and everyone as your next client. Will that help you build a successful firm – a business that is financially successful AND still allows you to have a life?
Once you clarify your ideal client(s), then you need to identify how to reach which goes back to identifying the characteristics of your ideal client – where they live, their family makeup, activities they enjoy, charities they support, community activities in which they are involved, etc.
Once you have completed the above “activity” you can narrow down where you might find those clients.
Identify a member of your team (even if this is a part time position – it’s key) whose expertise is PR, social media, etc. – set up a plan for regular press releases to send to local media and regular posts on social media – new hires, promotions, community involvement, design-related tips that spotlight your firm, seasonal tips, etc. Remember to focus on media platforms that appeal to your ideal client
Once you have identified your ideal client(s) and are able to describe them clearly, you will be able to ask for referrals from your current and past ideal clients – a source that is often forgotten! When you reach out to those clients for referrals, have a plan in place to thank them for the referrals.
Seek out and engage with those who share your ideal clients and discover if and how you might work together to benefit each other’s pipeline. Connect with a few real estate agents where you respect each other’s area of expertise and can see the value of partnering. Meet with a few financial advisors– and begin to develop a relationship that helps them understand that your firm takes your clients’ financial investment in the design of their home seriously and discover how you might work together.
Engage in your community – identify where you will most likely interact with your ideal clients and get engaged. Identify, explore, evaluate and then engage. Identify at what events/activities your ideal clients will be found – then explore a variety of these events/activities and evaluate to identify a few that seem the most positive and that most appeal to you. Finally, engage on a regular basis in those few. And remember that you are building relationships that may not lead to immediate business. Consequently, you must be continually engaged in the groups or activities you have chosen in order to establish those relationships. Don’t let your involvement lapse because you are too busy. Remember that you do not want to wait until you need to fill your pipeline to do so – it is something you should be doing continually.