Let me tell you a story about an entrepreneur who learned to find more work with a single client-and how you can do the same. Michelle is a client of mine. She had been working as a marketing consultant for almost a year and had landed a few good clients. Unfortunately, her biggest client, a rapidly growing app company, only used her for marketing copy; ignoring the other skills she could bring to the table.
Cracking the code
The client thought of her whenever copywriting work came up-but he’d hired others to help with his marketing strategy, long-form content and branding projects-all things that Michelle could have done well. She knew that soon the copywriting work would run out and, if she couldn’t crack the code that would convince the client to give her other marketing projects, she’d be facing a revenue crash.
The five step solution
Trying to convince clients you’re deserving of more work is a problem I’ve experienced many times over the years. Entrepreneurs, even veteran ones, often run the risk of getting pigeon-holed by their clients. Why? Because we often have to narrowly focus our message in order to land that first piece of business. Such is the power of first impressions: they create an anchor-an idea that clients hold onto-regarding who we are and what we can do for them. So, what I shared with Michelle were five tips I’d harvested over the years for overcoming a faulty first impression and expanding your opportunities with a client:
Demonstrate your range of expertise with examples of different work you have done
Offer to take part in strategy meetings; become part of the team
Offer feedback on items beyond your current project
Create new work to show your client what could be possible
Add value by sharing ideas or strategies that have worked for other clients
The steps in action
To start redefining herself, Michelle asked her client for the opportunity to make a presentation. Her goal-to prove to him that she could add value to his business in ways he didn’t yet see. And the key to achieving her goal was the prep work she did before their meeting. She mapped out the strategies she would implement if she were marketing his firm. And she assembled a portfolio of work she’d done with other clients that demonstrated her ability to put those strategies into action. In a couple of cases, she even created new branding documents as examples of what she could do for him, if he trusted her with an expanded role.
In the meeting she started her pitch session by asking her client about his current marketing strategy and how effective it was. This gave her the opportunity to share her ideas and to back them up with the supporting examples she’d brought. He got excited when she shared branding ideas that had worked with other clients, and the pitch quickly turned into an exchange of new ideas for marketing his business in the coming year.
The final word
That presentation was only the beginning. When I checked in with Michelle a month later, she was thrilled. Her client had brought her in to consult on his marketing strategy for the rest of the year. He was no longer stuck on his faulty first impression and they were working together on a much broader range of projects.
Using the five steps that worked for Michelle can help you remove your client’s stubborn anchor. And, as you move forward with new clients, you can use those same strategies in your first pitch meeting to make sure you accurately represent the full range of your skills right from the start.
About the author: Andy Haynes is a writer for FreshBooks. He is the co-author of two best-selling business books, a successful entrepreneur and business consultant.
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