A lot of designers focus heavily on getting new clients when things are getting quiet. The problem with that is that it takes a lot more work to book new clients than it does to generate more work from previous clients. You have to continually be working to build trust with new potential clients as well as market yourself consistently to keep bringing in the new clients.
Kory here! Instead of spending so much time and effort trying to constantly find new clients, it’s so much easier to focus on getting you past clients to come back when they need more work from you. So, today we’re going to talk about how you can keep your existing clients coming back each time they need more work.
Create a great experience during your first project
The first time you work with someone is the only chance you get to really wow them. If you’re disorganized or late during your first project, your client isn’t going to have a good experience. If they’re not enjoying the first project, the client is going to be much less likely to return when they need more work done both because they won’t enjoy the project and they may worry about whether or not you’ll actually complete the job.
To make sure you’re giving your clients a great experience, consider doing a process audit in between projects. You’ll want to go through your entire client process from start to finish to see what can be better. Bettering your process doesn’t mean you’re inexperienced or a bad designer, it’s what everyone should do to make sure they’re staying on top of things. In fact, when we recorded this episode, I had just signed up for a course that I was hoping would help me better my client experience, and I’ve been a designer for five years.
Really listen to what they want and over-deliver
Have you ever been talking to someone and they start responding to what you’ve just said, only what they’re saying is sort of random? It’s like they weren’t actually listening to what you said to them and they’re just saying what they think you want to hear. Sometimes people do this with their clients as well, as crazy as it may sound. It can be because they didn’t pay attention to their clients needs or they think the client should have something different for their own reasons.
Instead of skimming over your client’s emails or just giving them the minimum amount of work that you can, make sure you’re actually paying attention to them and try to over-deliver on what they’re asking for. To make sure that you’re actually paying attention to their needs, take your own notes based on their questionnaire responses. You can over-deliver by making sure you’re client experience is amazing, and also going above and beyond, like we talked about in EP 004.
Follow up with them consistently
This is where most designers go wrong, myself included, and it’s the key reason most of us miss out on getting our clients to return when they need more work done. It’s not necessarily that our clients are forgetting about us after the project is over, but instead, they either get too busy to actually reach out when they need something or don’t think to ask you to do certain things for them.
To avoid missing out on your clients coming back for more work, make sure you create a plan for following up regularly after the project is over. We recommend your follow up plan happen after:
- 1 month
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 1 year
You can automate this step by creating a special email list with a sequence that will send your follow up emails after each time frame. This is a great idea if you aren’t great at remembering to follow up (like me), but you still have to remember to add them to the email list.
Special note: Because I’ve taught about email marketing in the past, it’s really important for me to say that if you do decide to create a special email list and sequence for your past client follow up emails, you have to make sure this is the only list you’re adding your past clients to. If you also add them to your regular email list without their permission, you’re violating the CAN-SPAM act, which can put you at risk of owing thousands (and thousands) of dollars in fines. So, if you go the email list and sequence route, make sure you’re only sending the follow up emails!
Thank them for working with you
Last but not least, the most basic way you can encourage your past clients to come back when they need more work is to actually take the time to thank your clients. This is really important to do because remember this: your client could have chosen any number of designers to work on whatever project you just completed for them, so thanking them for trusting you with their project is really meaningful.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be some huge thing that you do. You can really easily create a canned response that thanks them for trusting you with their project and let’s them know you’re available if they ever need more work and send that at the end of the project. If you want to do a little more than that, you can take it a step further and send them a handwritten thank you note or a gift. We talked about this in EP 004, but I do want to reiterate that even if you just send a short handwritten note on a postcard, it’ll make your client feel special and want to return.
- Take a look at your overall experience and see if there’s anything you can improve
- Create thank you cards and add to the end of your project to do list to send a short note
- Dubsado for client management – use this link to get 20% off when you sign up