How’s Your Follow-Through?
You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage that it takes ten times as much effort to convince a stranger to buy as it takes to convince a devoted customer of yours to do the same. Usually, this strategy is applied to big companies looking to sell more of their products, but the adage applies to freelancers.
If you’re trying to get a project lined up for next week, it’s going to be a heck of a lot more difficult to find a brand-spanking-new client and convince that person to hire you. It’s going to be a lot easier to convince a client who’s worked with you before, who likes your work, and who already knows that you’re a pleasure to work with.
So how do you get old clients coming back to you when you need them? You perfect the art of the follow-through.
What’s a Follow-Through?
Many of you are familiar with the concept of the follow-through as it applies to sports, but surprisingly few freelancers realize that follow-through is an essential aspect of a marketing strategy. They’re in the habit of hitting the client hard with their best work, and then waiting for that client to say yes. Or they move on to the next client and hit him hard.
There’s no follow-through. And that means they’re only doing half the job.
Here’s how a follow-through works:
After you’ve completed a project with a client, send a thank-you note a few days later. Just a quick email works fine; this isn’t a huge presentation. It’s just a little bit more than the next guy is going to offer.
The client is going to be pleased. He’ll remember you sent that note. He’ll remember that you’re the kind of freelancer who’s a pleasure to work with, and a nice human being.
About a month later, send that client another email. This one should simply ask how the project worked out. Tailor this email to the goal of the project. If it was for some sales copy, put forward your hopes that it got a good response. If it was a new website design, mention you hope your client’s visitors are enjoying the redesign’s features.
Draw a little bit of attention to what a good job you did, but mostly just ask about the project’s success. You’re showing that you care how the project turned out for your client, not just for you.
Most clients will be thinking how they can do something nice for you in return.
Why Does it Work?
We’re not accustomed to people in business being nice to us. We’re used to simple transactions – you hire me to do a job, I perform the job, you pay me, we go our separate ways. It’s as easy as buying a candy bar from the gas station. They got something, you got something, and everyone goes about their lives. No one really cares.
When you introduce the follow-through, you’re not just one half of a transaction anymore. You’re a real human being. You’re someone who cares what happens to your client and his business, and you’re someone who thinks about your clients regularly.
That makes you more than a service provider. That makes you the person who brightened this client’s day.
Human beings are naturally inclined to return a favor when we feel we’ve been done one. And since the client is pleased that you did the favor of following through, he’s going to turn around and try to do something nice for you to give a little back.
More often than not, that something nice is a new project for you to work on. And why not? He likes your work, and he likes you. Why wouldn’t he want to work with you again?
If he doesn’t have any work right now, he’ll probably still refer you to someone else who needs your services. Then your client will feel good that he’s done a favor for two people – you, and this referral.
That’s follow-through. Try it out on your next project, and you’ll be amazed at how much it improves your game.
For perfect follow-through, head on over to James Chartrand’s blog at Men with Pens – you’ll be glad you went the distance.