UPDATE: This post won the Grand Prize in moo.com’s Expert Tips blogging competition. We’re so honored and proud, not to mention extremely fired up about our prize. We won $600 worth of free printing at moo.com. I have so many plans for some moo-tastic print projects. Stay tuned!
When I started Trillamar 7 years ago, I didn’t think I had much of a network. Sure, I’d worked in industry for over five years, but there wasn’t an obvious herd of clients to go after. Little by little, I started getting referrals from people I had worked with, friends, and even my parents’ friends. To this day, the main way I land new work is through an existing relationship — a client, friend, colleague, or classmate — with whom I have a lot of trust already in place.
It goes without saying that the relationship between a hair practitioner and his client is one of deep trust. I’ve been going to my hair guy for a cut and highlights since I moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago. Every few months I need help converting my bad English dishwater blonde into something more fabulous. I look forward to my trips to Goodform in West Hollywood, and have scheduled appointments more than once on my birthday. I can always count on a good collection of trashy magazines and good conversation.
My cool, hip, hair dude is a father of three. Like many of us, he found himself with a cash flow situation during this recession after loaning his dad some money. He asked me to pre-pay my next visit and in return he gave me a discount. Done.
Clearly, over the years, we had established some mutual trust. That got me thinking. Let’s fix his problem, rather than put a bandaid on it, and maybe leverage our existing relationship to bring us both new work.
Trillamar designed and printed some business cards for him. On the front was his contact info, and on the back were a variety of promotions to bring in new business.
I used the online printers moo.com. In fact, this blog post is Trillamar’s entry for a blogging competition held by moo.com. What I like about them is that you can print any number of backs on your cards, and the minimum order is a modest 50. Inspired by their great service, creativity and general hustle, I created a similar deck for Trillamar. Here are the cards:
Here’s the brilliant part. When I sent my stylist his cards, I included a whole mess of my cards as well. If his clients commented on the cards, he had an easy segue to bring Trillamar into the conversation. The results were pretty fantastic, if I say so myself.
So, what can we learn from this? Here are 5 ways to build up your client base from within your existing network.
1. Tell everyone that you are open for business. People like to connect their friends and colleagues. Isn’t that what social networks are all about?
2. Create some promotions for new clients. Even if the new business isn’t a big revenue generator, once people are comfortable working with you, bigger projects may come through. That being said, don’t work for free. They’re not clients if they don’t pay you.
3. Engage with existing clients, but bring something of value each time you interact with them. Promotions are good, but many clients prefer free advice in your area of expertise. Email Marketing and social media channels are a good way to do this.
4. Be open-minded. Some of our best web marketing successes have come from listening to clients’ ideas and feedback and tweaking them to make them amazing.
5. Be worthy of people’s trust. There is inherent risk in any business transaction. Minimize that risk by being transparent, or maybe translucent, to work with. Be mindful of a client’s time, but make sure you always communicate the most important details, such as what they need to do and when and what they get from you.