4.10.2014

DESIGN CONFIDENTIAL: HOW TO ATTRACT THE CLIENTS YOU WANT


Attracting your ideal client won't ensure your business will be a raving success, but constantly working with "your people" is one of the best ways to position yourself FOR success.
If you're feeling creatively stuck as a designer (or ANY creative artist), one of the first things you should assess is whether you're really working with your targeted crowd...because nothing will suck the life outta you like an "un-ideal" client (that sounds much nicer than calling them "bad", right?). An ideal client is to a creative like a weave is to Beyonce...you can still have a business without it, but it doesn't quite have the same spirit. (Get my drift?) 

HERE'S WHY (AND HOW) TO ATTRACT THE CLIENTS YOU WANT

1. Figure out who they are. I mean really sit down and figure it out. People always crack up at me because I can easily run off the demographics of my current client base (income, ethnicity, family size, education, location, age, marital status)--one thing you can be assured of, I know who my people are, and I know who I want to work with. Simply saying that you want to work with "people with money" might be the obvious choice but it isn't enough, plus...it cheapens you as a creative. Do you REALLY want to work with just anyone who throws a stack of money in your lap? I know I don't. I like clients with great energy & an appreciation of great style (fashion, makeup, hair, architecture, Interior Design, etc) who like to like to push past their boundaries and are confident in their selection of me as their designer not because I'm the cheapest, but because they want to work with me specifically. I like clients who want to take chances but hire me because they love my aesthetic and are not quite sure HOW to make the right choices in their decor. Simply having a big wallet just isn't enough.
As a creative, there are certain jobs you shouldn't take on and in order to be clear about which jobs to turn down, you have to identify your tribe. 

2. Know who YOU are. Wait a minute--are YOU even clear about what you're doing (or what service you're providing)?? If not, this is square one. Make sure you're clear about who you are as a brand & business owner and can clearly communicate your "who-ness" to others verbally (or if you wanna get all business lingo technical, it's known as your USP--unique selling proposition). If you're not sure about what & who you are, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize your people aren't going to be sure either.
And if they're not sure, they won't hire you. 

3. Create your highest standard (like attracts like). Look for opportunities to do the work you want to be doing now--no matter where you are in your business--and create according to your standard. I recognize that this isn't always easy, especially if you have a taste for fine linen, custom drapery from the finest silks and 100% wool carpeting with a $1000 budget, but you can always start somewhere. Use your home as a canvas. Create smaller vignettes that articulate your style. Imagine that you're working with your ideal client--what would you create for them? Even if it's nothing other than a case study or concept board, create like you're already where you want to be. After all...everyone knows that the fastest way to get what you want is to BE what you want.
And like Ray Kinsella said in Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come."
So get to building!

4. Be consistent.  Quality control, quality control, quality control! Be sure that the work you present to the world represents the kind of work you actually want to be doing in your business...all the time. If French Country isn't your thing but you happen to have taken on a few of those projects, don't share those images (or even pay for professional photography) on your website or social media accounts. A client would rather see one stellar project that represents the kind of work you're passionate about on your website versus 40 photos of a mix of styles that will confuse them about who you are and what your area of expertise is (besides taking the first check that comes along!). If you're a budding photographer and only 3 of your last 20 photo shoots met your expectations, only share the 3 you love and share those projects until the wheels fall off!
Again, when you're consistently communicating who you are and who you want to be in business, you make it easier for the people who are looking for YOUR area of expertise to find you.

5. Ask for what you want. If you want a certain type of client, ask for them! I don't mean beg and plead in their face, but when you're networking and sharing about your business, speak with confidence about who you want to work with. When you run across your ideal client in your daily travels, communicate your desire to work with them and share not only how you can be of assistance to them but why/how your business or product would be a great fit for their project (or a project you can create).
You have not, because you ask not...sometimes it really is that simple.

Are you working with you ideal clients? 
Have any advice to share?
If so, please chime in below!

image via

7 comments:

LiveLaughDecorate said...

Such great advice this morning my sister!Ask for what you want, and speak it into existence. It is the most powerful thing you can do and you'll likely get a great return on those words.
Yes, I'm working with a roster of ideal clients at the moment. These are clients who I will likely/or already have cemented a great personal relationship with even after the project is complete. The thing for creatives new to the biz to understand is that its okay to turn down a project, or two. Yes, we all need that check to pay bills, but sometimes that potential client, who smelled like trouble during your consultation, will really be a royal pain in the rear, and cost you more mental anguish than that check is worth. Walk away. Something better will always come along.

Dayka Robinson said...

Absolutely! Clients with whom you can establish a personal relationship that goes beyond your professional interaction are the best. As a new business, I think you have to go through some hoops to get your "sea legs" and one of them is working with clients that turn out to be a nightmare, or clients for whose project you feel zero inspiration. That's the fastest way to learn who you are and what you want to do!

Thanks for your feedback, Nicole--loved your advice (and the client who smells like "trouble", lol)!

Xo,
Dayka

Kathleen Mapson said...

Both comments are awesome. I am working on my 'sea legs' and saying no has been hard, especially with trying to build a reputable business and nice portfolio, but I have had to (with a heavy sigh). I have finally realized that I can't take any and every project that comes through the door. And it seems like I have more no's than yes'. Is it supposed to be that way? Sometimes I think I am just being tooooooo picky and I certainly don't want to come off that way!

Thanks ladies! You both are beautiful inspirations!

Kathleen Mapson said...

Both comments are awesome. I am working on my 'sea legs' and saying no has been hard, especially with trying to build a reputable business and nice portfolio, but I have had to (with a heavy sigh). I have finally realized that I can't take any and every project that comes through the door. And it seems like I have more no's than yes'. Is it supposed to be that way? Sometimes I think I am just being tooooooo picky and I certainly don't want to come off that way!

Thanks ladies! You both are beautiful inspirations!

Kim @ TheKimCollective said...

This is a really great read Dayka! Something I need to hear as I'm trying to get my bearings in starting out in this field. I especially like point #3. Thanks for inspiring, as usual!

Dayka Robinson said...

Kathleen-

Sometimes it can be! I'm a person who always likes to see the lesson in things, so if that's what you're seeing a lot of lately, my interpretation is that these experiences just might be there to teach you more and more about who you're NOT so that you can get clearer about who you are. The thing about those "no" projects is that it never really feels 100% right in your gut from the beginning, so you should listen to that. When you say "no" and stick to who you are, I think you'll find your tribe that much faster. And those people are SO much more fun to work with!

Price Style & Design said...

Wonderful post! I am book marking it and we be revisiting this often! It's a great mantra for those of us who are self employed! Thank you!

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