Then we wouldn’t need to hem and haw about our quotations, worrying if our fees are too high or that our clients can’t afford them. Or too low so that we look like sub-par freelancers.
Neither would we second-guess our work, wasting precious minutes and energy wondering if it’s good enough.
If we could read our clients’ minds we would know what to say so every project proposal we submit gets approved.
Every project we complete would be a huge success, and our clients would thank us for changing their lives forever.
Unfortunately, all this is not possible all the time. But we can get pretty close. With a little extra effort, freelancers can get a clearer understanding of our clients’ needs, problems, and desires–so our work can go as smoothly as possible.
How to Read Your Client’s Mind
Let’s begin by looking at ways we can better understand the whole population of people who could become our clients–our target market. Hopefully, you have a pretty laser-focused profile of your Ideal Client, rather than trying to target everyone with a wallet. You see, these strategies only work if you have a clear and focused target client profile in mind.
If so, you can get an idea of what’s inside your target clients’ minds by using some of the next few techniques in this post.
Hang Out in Relevant Online Forums
If you know your target client well enough, you’ll know where they hang out online. It could be an online forum, a LinkedIn group, or maybe even a weekly Twitter chat. Go to these watering holes and find out:
- What questions do they ask most frequently?
- What problems and challenges do they complain about?
- What solutions excite them and make them happy?
- What words and phrases do they use to articulate their needs and desires?
Research in Amazon.com
Amazon.com, the largest online bookstore, is another great place to research your target market. Identify a few books your target clients read. Go over the reviews of those books, keeping an eye open for:
- What problems or predicaments lead them to reading those books?
- What do they like or dislike about the books?
- What other books do they recommend and why?
- How do the authors and publishers captivate the audience’s attention? (Read the book’s blurbs and product descriptions to find out)
Read Their Magazines and Trade Journals
Chances are, there’s a magazine, newsletter or trade publication for your target market. If so, read those materials to learn:
- What are the recognized challenges in the industry?
- What solutions and strategies are trending?
- How do advertisers position their products? What problems do they address? What benefits do they promise?
- What is the tone and personality of the material?
Do some research into your target market and you’ll soon have a pretty good idea of how they think.
How about your specific clients? After you’ve signed them up for a project, you’ll need to continue getting to know each client. After all, while we may each belong to a demographic, we’re still unique individuals. My next tips will help you get inside the mind of a specific client.
Never be afraid to ask questions to clarify agreements and expectations. Simply ask:
“Is this what you mean? Is this what you’re saying? Is this what you expect?”
This simple step can save you from miscommunication, which often leads to unhappy clients and unhappy freelancers.
Read What They Write
If your client publishes his or her own content, make sure to read them. Sign up for their newsletter, visit their blog, read their articles, and look at what they publish on their social networking profiles. Yes, it feels like stalking, but it will pay off, believe me!
You’ll discover a lot about your client’s personality, the circles they move in, what things interest them, what earns their admiration, and so many other things by doing this simple step.
Ask Someone Who Knows Them Well
If you and your client have a mutual friend or associate, they can be a source of valuable insight into your client.
However, tread very carefully. Don’t do this instead of discussing issues with your client directly. Instead, do this to confirm whether a certain approach you’re taking makes sense, or if there’s a better way you may not know about.
The Bottom Line
The moral of this blog post is: Never assume you know what your client wants.
Ask, dig deeper, find out.
By knowing, really knowing, what’s inside your client’s mind and heart, you’ll be able to provide the services they’re willing to pay for.
What strategies do you currently use to get to know your clients better? Are there tips you’d like to add to the ones I’ve mentioned in this post? Which ones have worked for you in the past?
Do share them in the comments below.