Episode 064: Show Notes
Alright guys, we are back for another tactical throwback. Today, we are taking it back and sitting down to interview Abagail about all of the lessons she’s learned, the mistakes she’s made, and how the heck she got clients when she was doing one-on-one client work for branding, design, and website business building. So today we are going to give the quick version of what Abbie did before TCC, because not everyone knows that she has not been doing Think Creative Collective forever. We will learn a bit more about what she used to do, and dive into the tactics she used to grow her business.
Prior to TCC, Abagail worked in the corporate design world. After completing her fine arts degree, she went straight out of the gate and started working for big and small businesses alike. She worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes, anywhere from billion dollar, to nonprofit, to educational businesses. She even worked for a startup and then eventually was laid off, which is really where she faced her crossroads and had to make a decision about whether to start her own business or simply look for another job. Abbie was definitely ready for a challenge and decided to pursue her dream of having her own business. So get ready, get your socks on, it’s going to be a good one.
Finding Your First Clients and Getting Them in the Door
As a new business owner, Abbie had three main strategies for getting clients in the door. Prior to starting her business, Abbie had worked as a freelancer for some time before being laid off. So when she transitioned into her business full-time, she had already established a reputation for herself within her college town. This created a referral-based client stream, which was the first source of new clients for her. However, since she had moved away from the small town, she had to start again to build her client portfolio in the city. So for her next strategy, instead of cold calling potential clients, Abbie approached smaller design shops and offered her services as a contractor for any overflow work that they could not take on. Then, finally, for her third strategy, Abbie teamed up with another business owner who would send her warm leads, and she would pay her a percentage of the booking fee in exchange.
Adjusting Your Pricing to Account for Referral Fees
When working with referral fees, the best way to increase your margins is to build the cost right into your prices. For Abbie, she upped her prices and instead of working on hourly rates, she adjusted to understand the value it was adding to the client, and what she needed to earn in order to cover all the time it took to actually get clients. If you are spending 10 to 20 hours a week working on getting clients, you need to make sure that someone is paying you for that time. You have to build that in somewhere, and so you should definitely work that into your prices for everything. This strategy can even work with contractor positions with the other marketing firms, and will act as a monetary cushion for your overall project costs.
Networking With Those Who Know Your Potential Clients
Taking on the networking part of business, Abbie did not spend a lot of time going to those classic networking breakfasts. For the most part, she did not really feel connected to other businesses and so she needed a different way to reach people. So instead, Abbie found people that she thought were really connected in the community and took them out for coffee. On these coffee dates, she would sit down with them and talk to them about their life and about their business. Oftentimes these individuals either owned their own businesses or they were a high-level executive in a thriving Kansas City business. She would get to know them and would really go out of her way to build that relationship so that later down the line, they would be able to refer new clients to her. Although the strategy did not work right away, it did eventually bring in clients that were a significant part of her income.
Niching Down Your Offers As Your Business Grows
One of the biggest mistakes that new business owners make is to try and offer too much, ending up as a one-stop-shop for their customers. This is A, not what your clients need, and B, not a good way to invest your time. When you are trying to serve every need of every customer, you will spend too much time researching and figuring out how to solve all their problems, and not enough time actually adding value to their client experience. So instead of offering absolutely everything, niche down and create packages as a way to create some customization for your clients, taking a more tiered approach. If needed, you can always add in some à la carte options for customers to choose from to further design their unique client experience, without needing to do any external work on your end because it is already a service or product feature that you provide.
Pulling Off a Successful Client Discovery Call
When you get to the point where a potential customer is interested, once they have contacted you, set up a discovery call within 24 to 48 hours of them reaching out to you. This way, their enquiry is fresh in their mind, and you are ready to jump in to help them solve their problem. The goal of the discovery call is for you to get as much information about them as possible. Ask them questions, find out what their goals are, and then rework a strategy that will help get them to that goal. Then, instead of having the closing conversation on the same discovery call, book a time to meet up with them or call them again. During the next conversation, come prepared with a contract and a plan of action outlining what you want to accomplish with them. Then, walk them through the contract and the timelines of the process, and more often than not, they will be ready to sign right there in front of you.
- Learn Abagail’s tactic for finding her first clients while transitioning into running her own business full-time. [0:04:21.7]
- Understand how to build in referral fee costs, and client acquisition time into your pricing strategy to remain profitable. [0:12:47.2]
- Find out how Abagail used her networking skills to meet with people who could refer her to potential clients. [0:15:12.4]
- Hear Abagail’s reasons for niching down her services to make it more manageable and cost-effective for her business. [0:29:13.8]
- Learn how to make a successful discovery call, and the do’s and don’ts when it comes to gaining new clients. [0:37:58.8]
- Do not expect customers to fall out of the sky from your website.
- Stop offering too much, and charging too little.
- Talk less about yourself, and listen more to what your clients have to say; it’s not about you.