In this new series, I’m talking about how to get more clients by using referrals, drawing from a session from this year’s Communication Central conference: Rev Up Your Business with Referral Power by Jake Poinier, aka Dr. Freelance.
Last week, I talked about why you should make your editing business referral based. But not all clients are created equal. This week, I’ll talk about identifying the right clients for referrals and how to prepare your brand image for prospective clients.
Review Your Business
The first step Poinier recommends is looking at your current client list. How many of them came from referrals? It may be more than you realize. Determine the source, if you can. You may already have some good referral agents on your team!
Going forward, be sure to track the sources of all your clients. You can’t duplicate what works if you don’t know what works.
Look again at that client list. Which clients do you wish you could clone? Why do you wish to clone them? Because of the money? The work itself? The relationship? Figure out what about this client you want in other clients. For example:
- I like the subject matter.
- There is a steady flow of work for me to do.
- The client is willing to pay my desired rate.
- The client pays on time.
Do this for every favorite client. You might find similarities among them, or you might find they’re completely different. Either way, you’re building a picture of your ideal client or clients. This will help you find what you’re looking for.
Who Will Refer You?
Next, look at the client’s side of the equation, advises Poinier. Of those on your favorites list, who is likely to refer you? It will be a client who is not only pleased with your work but who also understands that your taking on new clients doesn’t mean they’re getting tossed aside.
Don’t limit yourself to just your main client contact, either. With one of my clients, I work with a couple of staffers and a few freelancers. All of them are potential people for me to approach for a referral.
Consider teaming up with freelancers who offer related services. Those freelancers I work with are writers and designers. I could ask about partnership opportunities and offer to refer them as well.
Be Ready for Prospects
A smart businessperson doesn’t hire based on referrals alone. They do their homework before contacting you, checking out your online presence, for example.
Make sure you reflect your desired brand image, both in person and in your marketing materials. What is your brand image? Are you the handholding type of editor who coaches your writers through the editing process? Perhaps you offer other publishing services, such as book design or project management, acting as a one-stop shop for your clients. Or maybe you specialize in editing esoteric topics.
Whatever your image, don’t just hope that your clients have picked up on who you are. Ensure that all your marketing materials reflect it. This includes any business writing you do and the business cards and brochures you give out. It also includes the image you project in person.
Before that prospect researches you online, Poinier advises reviewing the following for brand image and accuracy:
- Your website
- Your social media profiles
- Your directory listings
- Your business blog
Work on these tasks over the coming week, and next Friday I’ll share how to ask for that referral. Stay tuned!
Read more in this series: