As artists, creative makers and business owners, we’re always quick to chase after clients. We run after landing clients because they’re the make or break of our business. Yes, clients are important to have, but if your sole purpose in running a business is to “suck it up” to that rich client to keep the money flooding in, then I’m afraid you’re in business with the wrong motives.
We need to focus more on our missions and values and see how we can be impactful in our business for the wider community, rather than pigeon holing our efforts towards JUST landing clients. I’m not saying we should disregard them completely, but instead of chasing one client after the other, I think it’s substantially more effective if you cultivate meaningful relationships with one client at a time.
You should be motivated by the idea of cultivating relationships and not by money, especially if you’re just starting out. This is a value you should hold from here on out to the rest of your artrepreneurial path.
This actually took me a while to figure out myself. I started off with henna as a side business and I was so focused on getting clients and driving more money into my business. I had to pay the bills after all. But not only did this disengage me from the clients I already had, but it actually made me chase after the wrong clients as well. I wasn’t targeting the right people, nor was I branding myself as the henna artist I yearned to be.
I want to do destination weddings. I want to have people call me out by name because they appreciate my style. I want to be treated like a wedding guest rather than just another vendor. But this was all a very selfish way of trying to run a business – I’m only focused on what I want, not what the client actually needs. And by doing that, I actually wasn’t really exerting efforts to make myself to be perceived that way. I was solely concentrated on getting more and more clients and I thought by adopting the styles of more fashioned artists at competitive pricing, I’d be able to achieve that. This is totally counterintuitive. What I was really doing is just being ‘price shopped’ for budget brides and not really getting to know them or their stories, not to mention the fact that I was suppressing my own style from being formed.
So instead, if you really want to be KILLING IT and not just “passing by”, I’m adopting a completely new philosophy and I recommend you do too.
1) KNOW YOUR NICHE
It sounds simple, but this actually did not come naturally to me at all. It took me a long time to figure out what my niche is and the importance of knowing it too. Sometimes we have a curse of knowledge and think if we stretch ourselves thin, we’d have a bigger piece of the market. NOT TRUE AT ALL. If you’re trying to please everyone (thinking you’ll get more clients that way), you’ll end up pleasing no one (meaning little to no clients at all).
If you don’t market yourself to a specific niche, you’ll constantly be getting the wrong clients over and over.
Is it driving money in your business? Maybe, sure. But if you truly want your business to succeed and maintain its longevity, finding the right clients is the most crucial aspect to it. I would rather turn down clients over and over again, overlooking the money it could generate, just so I can filter out and attract the right ones instead.
About 2 years into my henna career, I created a “sister website” called hennaprojectbazaar.com – which offered a range of henna designed products from mugs & clothing wear to desserts to wedding invitations. Do you see how unspecified that is? It was a major flop and I eventually discontinued the website completely. Instead, I really focused on 2 things: brides and henna themed desserts.
This completely hones the business and people are not confused to what it is I’m offering. If you offer TOO MANY unrelated things, potential clients will be: overwhelmed with choices and end up being confused about what it is you actually do, which inevitably dissuades them completely from acquiring services or products from you. Be specific and know who your ideal client is. From there you’ll know who you’re trying to appeal to and invest your effort in the right places.
2) FOCUS ON BUILDING YOUR TESTIMONIALS
It’s been said that 90% of potential clients who have read positive online reviews influenced their purchasing decision and that 85% of consumers read up to 10 reviews before actually trusting a business. Those numbers are way too high to ignore! The power of testimonials should not be overlooked whatsoever. It might be a tipping point for someone who might have been on the fence of your business.
Testimonials build your credibility and gives your business a much more professional image – that a group of people deliberately took the time to write about you.
It not only gives you extra accountability but also builds a frame of reference from what potential clients should be expecting from you. On the other hand, don’t expect that clients will write a testimonial for you voluntarily. 80% of the testimonials that were written about my business were a result of me asking them to. It’s also REALLY important that you make it easy for them without having them to do the guesswork. So here’s a literal email script I send out to a client about 2 – 3 days after our meet up…
It’s also essential that you engage with the testimonials that have been submitted. This is especially critical when it may not necessarily be an up-to-par review (don’t beat yourself up over that, it happens!).
I always make sure to comment on the testimonial submitted – to show the general public that I’m hands on and leave a much more impressionable mark, and reply to the client with an email of gratitude.
A while back, I was looking to print some business cards and needed a print house with a fast turn around. I found a company nearby and it had a 3.9 star review on Google. That number is not high to my personal conviction, but because I read their reviews and the fact that they responded to each and every single one, good or bad, it actually made me source my cards to them. Why? Because I knew that even if I had a problem, they would be quick to address it.
3) NETWORK WITH PEOPLE IN RELATED INDUSTRIES
Networking is super powerful, especially if you’re just starting out or just moved to an entirely new city. Harnessing a network for yourself will: cultivate influential relationships, get you client referrals, might increase the chances of getting published and allow you to work on possible project collaborations that benefits you both.
Knowing people in your industry will truly make you go a long way. But it’s not just enough to know someone in your field and that’s that, you need to actually create a genuine relationship.
When I first moved to Toronto, I only knew a handful of people – none of them were in my field. I found a wedding company that specialized in South Asian Weddings so I asked to set up a meeting with them. They sold me on a package of paying a monthly fee for 6 months so they can give me access to their clients. Do you know how many clients I landed from this? Literally just ONE! Only one bride! I was shocked; especially that this was a very reputable wedding planning company so I spared no expense.
Instead, I changed my approach and researched all the wedding planners in my area. I scrutinized their websites, see what unique things I appreciated about what they offered and emailed each one providing them a FREE bridal mehndi guide that they can send to their clients that relieves them from some work and gives brides answers to their questions.
Because I created a much more authentic and genuine impression, this actually upped client referrals. Wedding planners are bombarded with emails and special requests everyday. By offering them something that genuinely helps them, it increases the likelihood of being a beneficial relationship for both parties.
DOWNLOAD THIS HANDY GUIDE THAT WILL SHOW YOU 3 TACTICAL WAYS TO NETWORK WITH NOTHING BUT A COMPUTER OR PHONE AND AN INTERNET CONNECTION
4) REWARD LOYALTY
Did you know that clients that are more likely to buy from you are the clients that actually have purchased from you in the past? It's been reported that major telecom companies customer retention costs are 50% more than acquisition costs, which proves that keeping your existing clients happy is way easier than acquiring new ones.
It’s so much easier to persuade existing clients than acquiring the new ones.
One thing I recently did was offer a 10% discount to all return clients and a further 10% if they brought a friend (so overall they’d get 20% off). This actually lured the clients back and more likely than not they’d bring a friend with them. This way I’ve pleased an existing client, enhanced our overall relationship and acquired a new client as well.
From a consumer perspective, as a chocolate addict, I’m a major fan of Godiva chocolatier. So much so that I actually worked for them a little while. What continuously strived me to keep going back was their loyalty program. They gave me a card and with every purchase that card was stamped. For every 5 purchases, I’d get a free shake. This actually kept me going back. They also offered free chocolates for your birthday – what better gift can I give myself than chocolates?
5) DELIVER A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE TO INCREASE WORD OF MOUTH
Word of mouth can really fast track your success. But how you can really get clients talking about you and recommending you is by truly offering a unique and memorable experience. Make sure to really go that extra mile.
If you’re relatable your client will remember YOU more than the service you provided.
One of the things I started doing is get a water bottle and have my own branding on the back and having the words “Congratulations Blushing Bride” on the front. I’d take it with me when I’m about to do the bride’s mehndi and whilst handing it to her, tell her that as a bride she needs to always be hydrated. My bride would be extremely grateful, and my branding is on there if anyone else happened to glance a look at the bottle if it was just laying around.
Another thing I do is if I have private appointments at my home studio is to make sure I’m stocked with Egyptian tea and treats. The fact that I’m from Egypt is an instant icebreaker with my clients and it opens a flood of conversations. So I decided to really embrace it and offer a little piece of Egypt along with the henna they were getting. This builds a relationship and will also make an association infused, whenever the client stumbles on anything Egyptian related, they’ll remember me.
There you have it awesome creature. The 5 completely FREE strategies to land more clients on your plate:
1) Know your niche and exert your efforts in serving them
2) Build your testimonial front to give yourself more credibility
3) Network with people in your field or related industries to increase client referral chances
4) Reward loyalty to keep your existing clients coming back and get their friends with them
5) Deliver a memorable experience so you can have the word of mouth do the work for you