When we first start out in business getting any clients is our goal, but over time the real goal is to get great clients - those with decent budgets who pay their bills on time.
In this article, we want to give you 5 simple ways to get great clients. Note we say simple and not easy; this is because getting great clients is not easy, it takes hard work but is worth it in the long run. If you want an easy life then this plan is not for you, it demands long days and going the extra mile, you see great clients are not looking for the ordinary they are looking for the extraordinary.
Here are 5 simple ways to attract great clients to your studio.
1. Get Trusted Partners
Good clients don’t appear by accident; it is down to us to find them. The best kind of advertising is by word of mouth, not because it costs nothing but because it is worth everything.
Why? Because word of mouth recommendations already establish your credentials, no one recommends a bad business, that makes no sense. And if another company is suggesting you as a trusted source then they have their reputation to protect. If you are using other advertising then your potential clients have no way of knowing if you live up to your claims, word of mouth recommendations nail that one before they even speak to you.
Ask your current clients to endorse your skills via testimonial and don't feel shy about asking them to recommend you and your work to others. Work that comes to you this way is far more likely to give you great results.
The second way is to get trusted partners who can recommend clients to you; yes you read that right - make it your job to find the right clients. Trusted partners may be other engineers and producers who use you already or session musicians. Businesses that you work with like video production companies or web designers can also help to co-promote your work. In other words, build an eco-system that supports all those involved to grow together. Partnerships are the best way to build.
2. Get References
So often we think references only apply when we are hiring, but they also apply when we are seeking new clients. What are they like to work with on a day-to-basis? Are their instructions clear? Are their expectations reasonable? You need to know if you are going to get paid and how fast are they at paying their bills?
The music production community is small, so it doesn’t take long to find out if a potential client is going to be right or wrong. Don't be afraid to do your homework to see if you are taking on a dream or a nightmare.
If you are lending money (any line of credit is a loan), then make sure you also get references, especially if it’s a significant sum of money. If you don't ever get paid for your work then you haven't won a client you've simply created a debt.
The idea of a new client always excites us, but that can soon turn to frustration and disappointment if they don't live up to their hype.
3. Put Some Obstacles Up To Test Their Intent
Make sure you have clear guidelines for any new projects and make sure they are in writing. These should include the scope of the project including what their deliverables are, deadlines and budget. Don't start any work without this; then you may soon find yourself dealing with problems. Any reasonable client will appreciate you taking the time to set things up correctly, and it will give them some security that they are dealing with a business that has its act together.
Talking of money then you need to establish some ground rules at the outset of a new relationship. Our suggestion is that if a new client comes along, then the first thing is to require payment up front for at least 50% of the final cost/budget. Furthermore get them to agree in writing to pay the final payment on completion. Explain that this is your way of credit checking a company and once you have completed a project to everyone’s satisfaction, then you talk about possibly relaxing the credit terms.
4. Put Up Your Prices
Often we can be our own worst enemy, we sell our studios or our production talent for virtually free and then wonder why we attract poor clientele. Conversely, serious clients won’t take you seriously because they perceive you as too cheap after all, reasonable people know that quality costs money.
There is an ever more important reason to put up your prices, and that is to ensure you work less time for more money. If you are working twice as hard as you should for half as much money as you should, then put up your rates. You may find you have half as many clients but still have the same income. Slashing prices is sometimes necessary to get the phone ringing and increase work, but don't have a business with bargain basement prices all year round, that will make you a busy fool.
5. Be The Best
Don’t expect to get great clients if you offer an inferior product or service - would you pay top dollar for average quality?
Being the best will start to attract the best clients, and when you look after your clients, then they will take care of you.
Make sure your work and your studio are both the best they can be. Continue to invest in your skills and never stop learning, make sure some of your business spend is on getting better at what you do. That may include getting a relevant qualification if you think it will help put you ahead of the game.
If your clients visit you then make sure that everything in your studio works, that the building is clean and tidy. Cleanliness includes the kitchen and the toilets; it includes the office and the lounges. If you live in a shared facility and you have no control of other parts of the site then make sure everything inside your part of the building is a palace, visitors will notice.
Many of you will work for clients who never visit, if this is the case then make sure the things they can see are the best they can be. Make sure your website is up to date and includes all the information that needs to be there, make sure it has been checked for silly spelling errors, and most of all make sure it is easy for people to contact you. If you spend all day in sessions, then it's not smart having your mobile phone number as a contact if you ever answer it during the day. Make sure the contact information gets an enquiry to you in a way you can respond quickly. If you can't react fast, then make sure you are clear about this, either with an autoresponder or with a note on the contact form.
Also, make sure any written communications are professional, that spelling and grammar are checked before you press send. Include a signature on your emails that includes contact information etc.
It's tempting to set up social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Only do this if you can keep these up to date - there is nothing worse than business-based social media that is out of date. And take care what you post on these platforms, pictures of your dog, dinner or your drunk is not going to send out the right message.
So You Want Great Clients?
In closing let's make this clear - great customers use great businesses.
If you want to attract them, then follow the steps outlined above and before you know it you'll have not only more clients but also better ones!