In my courses and live events, I talk a lot about attracting your ideal client. Not your idealized client, but the one that is perfect for you and the way you do business. Many of you tell me all the time that you are getting clients, but for some reason they’re the ones that everyone warns you about, the wrong fit for you or maybe even one of those not-so-great clients that can drain you of energy and creativity. No one wants that!
So how do you avoid the bad-fit clients and attract the right ones for you? I’ll give you my top 5 tips to help you get it right:
1. POV. What’s your point of view, or your niche? What’s your specialty? What sets you apart from other designers? Do you know? That may be your entire problem! You need to differentiate yourself, and you need to point out HOW you’re different in your marketing and communications. That’s actually a two-part issue. For the first part, you need to define and refine your unique selling proposition. Even if you think you know what it is, take a hard look at your business, your brand, and your niche. Is it really solid? Do you believe it in it completely? Because if you don’t believe it, how in the world will you convince a great client to believe in it, too?
2. Tell them. For the second part of that tip above, I want you to review your website and your social media. What would those sites tell someone who knows nothing else about you? Are they sending the right message? For example, if you really want to attract clients who love modern design and super-edited rooms, is that what your portfolio shows them? Or are your photos all of traditional design? You might be confusing your message! You can always design a room or two in your own home, in a showhome, or in a friend’s home, to give you the photos and look that you want to show the world. And double-check your taglines and copy – do they clearly spell out your niche and your services? It’s difficult to attract the right client if they can’t figure out who you are and what you can do.
3. Remove emotion. It’s difficult to keep yourself from saying yes to every single client who calls or contacts you. That’s why I think it’s so important to have a screening system for clients – it helps you weed out the ones that aren’t a perfect fit without having you get emotionally attached to the client, or the money. If you can’t afford someone to answer your phone, at least have a client questionnaire on your website that asks some screening questions. On my site, I include a range of budget numbers so I can immediately get a sense of where that person fits. We also ask questions about the scope and size of a project, and my screener asks what they like about my work. If they say they haven’t really seen my work, then that client isn’t a fit. Find a way to keep from getting emotionally involved before you find out if that client is a fit for you!
4. Time for benefits. Studies show that people want to save time MORE than they want to save money. Their time is precious to them – so speak that language. Be sure you’re telling prospective clients exactly how your services will help them in their own lives, that you will save them time and energy on all the thousands of decisions that go into designing a stunning home. And if you have any other amazing benefits, be sure you’re listing those, too!
5. Be honest. However, if you aren’t the speediest designer around (and that’s ok!), then don’t say that you can create a room faster than anyone else. That’s a recipe for disaster for both you and that potential client. Instead, point out that you have the knowledge and talent to make the job run smoothly and efficiently, bringing it in on time and on budget. Honestly is definitely the best policy when you’re talking about your niche and your abilities!
And as you’re weeding through those potential clients, watch out for those red flags that tell you the client isn’t a fit! You know what those red flags are – and they’re different for every one of us. But pay attention to what your gut is telling you. And use these tips to be sure the right potential clients are headed your way!