Once upon a time, prior to co-founding Brew Creative with my business partner Gobbs Lim, I was a wee fledgling freelance designer.
At 19, I believed that all business is good business. When you’re just starting out, you don’t get to be fussy. You’re hungry and you’ll take on anyone who is willing to work with you, for the experience and revenue.
Oh boy, I learnt fairly quickly that ‘all business is good business’ was a huge misconception. These were the tell-tale signs that made me think that something wasn’t quite right:
- People kept asking me to work for free. They took the term ‘freelancer’ too literally. I kid you not, this is a #truestory.
- Too much time was spent following up on leads that were not genuine, the wrong fit or just shopping around based on price alone. It was a constant and stressful battle for time to do some actual design work.
- I felt like a pasar malam stall owner who had to deal with prospects who haggled and lowballed over design fees. This was a major time sink and highly demoralising.
- Every time I got a new enquiry, I went “Oh no!” instead of “Oh yeah!” (followed by a fist pump).
- I encountered many difficult clients who were just the wrong fit and were difficult to manage in various aspects.
I thought to myself: I want to enjoy what I do more – there’s got to be a better way to do business! Through self-reflection, reading business books, scouring through online forums and also speaking to more experienced business owners at networking sessions, things started to change and improve.
The profile of clients who engaged my services a year later, were very different from the ones I started off with. They valued my skills and they were willing to pay for quality. They collaborated with me on projects, instead of directing me. I was a lot happier, healthier and the work produced made both me and my clients proud and fulfilled.
I didn’t have the clarity or business experience back then to identify what I did exactly to bring about those improvements. Today however, I can articulate and share the 5 reasons why I wasn’t getting the right clients all those years ago.
- Have you identified your customer/buyer profiles?
The most common mistake businesses make, is to claim that ‘everyone’ is their potential customer. No – you have to be specific. Age/gender/job position/how much do they earn/what is their lifestyle like etc. The more you can crystalise what your ideal customer looks like in real-life, the more you’ll be able to craft your promotional efforts around the customer.
- Do you have a strong brand strategy and messaging?
From the buyer profiles, you now have a good idea of how to position your business. Are you mass market or more exclusive? What is your pricing? How do you help improve or solve a problem that your potential customer has, and what is your unique selling point? The answers are just some of the ‘ingredients’ that help form a brand strategy and messaging that is compelling to your target audience.
- Are your visual communications aligned with your brand strategy and messaging?
Let’s face it. People judge a book by its cover. So if your visual branding is not up to scratch and in alignment with everything else, you’re at risk of losing out to your competitors who have made the effort to ‘package’ their business. Remember, from your logo, print brochures, banners to your website, your visual communications should be strong and consistent in both aesthetics and messaging.
- Have you been targeting your lead generation efforts with the right platform and audience?
If you’ve done your customer/buyer profile right in step 1, it becomes easier to identify where your ideal customer might hang out. Perhaps they use LinkedIn more than Facebook? Or they may frequent networking group X but never Y. Go where they go, so you get the opportunity to promote your business.
- Do you have a leads filtering process in place?
When you have many leads coming in, you should always qualify them before moving forward. This is going to save you lots of futile phone calls and emails, as well as wasted trips for meetings. Your time is precious too! The filtering process could be a questionnaire or an initial phone call with a set of questions to identify needs, budget, delivery date etc. For Brew, we have a Project Planner to help the client articulate what they need help with so we can advise them better.
To put it simply, you have to take control of what you’re putting out there in order to attract the right kind of clients. Design your business communications to a ‘T’, or end up with the wrong branding and messaging = wrong clients.
If you’re experiencing some of the tell-tale signs or need help with the 5 reasons mentioned, feel free to reach out via our Project Planner and we will extend a complimentary 1-hour discover session at our studio…If you qualify! 😉