The quality of your explanation impacts your success. For example, if you don’t communicate well, you could turn off prospective clients, attract those you don’t really want to work with, and look just like any other freelancer in your field.
On the other hand, when you talk about your freelancing business effectively, not only do you attract your Ideal Clients. You’ll also have more confidence about yourself and your business. And that confidence will show in everything you do.
The majority of freelancers don’t know how to talk about their business. Just look at the websites and other marketing materials of most freelancers, and you’ll find the common mistakes listed below.
Mistake #1. They’re All About Themselves
“I’m a designer with 12 years experience in graphic and web design.”
“I’m an expert Rails programmer.”
“I’ve worked with the following Fortune 500 companies….”
These freelancers focus on themselves and show no concern whatsoever for the prospect. The truth is, people don’t care about you; they only care about themselves. They’re only interested in you to the extent that you can help them reach their goals. More about that later.
Mistake #2. They Stop at Features
Features are observable characteristics of the services you offer. For example:
- 450-600 word articles
- logo design
- WordPress installation with design customization and plugins
Of course, prospects are interested in knowing exactly what they’re going to get by working with you. The problem comes when that’s all you tell them. You see, while your prospect might be interested in articles, logo design, or a WordPress install, that’s not all they care about. They want those things to achieve bigger desires and goals.
It’s your job to find out what those desires and goals are, and how they tie up to the services you offer. You’ll learn how to do that below.
Mistake #3. They Go into Details Prematurely
Another mistake freelancers make is giving too many details before the prospect is ready. An example is publishing your rates on the home page of your website. Getting into fees and costs before the prospect is properly “warmed up” can mean the difference between having a new client and losing one to a less expensive competitor.
What to Do Instead
Now that you have an idea of what NOT to do, let’s get into the positive side of things and discuss what to do. How DO you talk to prospective clients so they understand what your freelancing business is really all about–so that they hire you?
In the following sections I share some of the positive action items that you can do to market your business:
Item #1. Focus on Your Prospects
Effective communication begins by understanding your prospects. Jeanna Pool, author of Marketing for Solos, says you need to know their pain, problem, and predicament. It’s one of those Ps that drive prospects to consider hiring a freelancer. Know what their 3Ps are, and you’ll know what “hot buttons” they’ll respond to best.
Approaching prospects with an understanding of their pain, problem or predicament is the perfect way to attract their attention and earn their trust.
For example, see how appealing the following sounds, instead of the “I…” statements we have above:
“You know article marketing can do wonders for your site’s traffic, but writing articles isn’t easy for everyone.”
“Is your business logo so outdated, it’s embarrassing?”
“You want a website to help promote your business, but you don’t want to pay an arm and leg for one that will be obsolete in a couple of months.”
Take the extra effort to really get to know your Ideal Clients, and you’ll be a better freelancer.
Item #2. Sell Them the Benefits
Your prospects want more than the specific services you offer. They want the benefits of those services. Benefits are changes in your clients’ situation, which they’ll experience as a result of your work.
For instance, a prospect doesn’t only want an article. He really wants to increase his site’s search engine ranking, attract more traffic, and have more subscribers to his newsletter.
Another prospect isn’t only looking for a new company logo. She wants to stop being embarrassed by her ’90s-style branding and connect visually with her target market.
That business owner isn’t just after a website. What she ultimately wants is to get prospects and customers even when she’s not cold calling.
Talking about the benefits you bring to clients will get prospects excited about working with you… even when there are dozens of less expensive competitors out there.
Sit down for a few minutes to brainstorm what benefits you can promise your prospects. One way to come up with ideas is to look back at previous clients. What results have your clients enjoyed as a result of your work?
Another way is to keep asking yourself, “So what?” For example, you write search engine-optimized articles. So what?
Then the articles I write will get plenty of traffic. So what?
Then more article readers will click on the link in the articles and discover my client’s site. So what?
Then my client will have more subscribers and prospects to market to. So what?
Then my client will sell more of Widget X and make more money. So what?
Then my client will be able to send his children to college, which is his lifelong dream, because he never went to college himself. So what?
Then my client will feel fulfilled as an entrepreneur and parent.
Keep drilling down until you can’t go deeper any more. By the way, when you do this exercise, you have to make assumptions about your prospects. The more you know about them, the better you’ll get at mining the benefits they care about.
Item #3. Give Details When Your Prospect Is Ready
People don’t like to be sold to. This is why we don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of our work, unless the prospect is good and ready.
You’ll know they’re ready by their response. Let’s say you just told a prospect that “I’m a graphic designer who helps businesses create visual brands that resonate with their target market.”
If the person’s eyes glaze over, then they’re not ready and may never be interested in what you have to offer.
On the other hand, if the person’s eyes widen, they flash a smile and say, “Really? Tell me more”–that’s your cue to say a little more about what you do.
A New Way of Communicating
All this advice may seem strange and unusual for you. However, learning this way of communicating your business will make you a more successful freelancer.
Use it when you
- write the copy for your website, brochure and other marketing materials
- talk to prospects in a networking event
- ask past clients for testimonials
- put together case studies to document how you’ve helped clients
You’ll soon realize this isn’t just a way of talking about your freelancing business. It’s a whole new way of thinking–one that’s centered on your clients, their problems, and their goals. You’ll also soon find out, this approach works much better in attracting and keeping clients.
How can you become more client-focused when talking about your business?
Tell us about your a-ha’s and next steps in the comments below.
Image by Kimba