How to Differentiate Yourself from the Crowd
All freelancers and business owners compete for new business. A potential client who is considering you probably doesn’t know the type of service you provide, the way you treat your clients, and how a relationship with you will work out. The client doesn’t know you. Most times, the client takes a leap of faith when hiring you, trusting that your portfolio, experience and references declare that you’re the best person for the job.
When you’re in that initial exploration stage with a prospective client, it’s your job to answer questions, provide information and essentially convince the client you’re the person for the job (while determining if he is the right client for you, of course). Here are a few ways to do that in your attempt to push yourself ahead of the rest.
Personal relationships are a big part of business. Being candid and honest during an interview can go a long way in forming new partnerships. You’ve been in the courting stage with a new client before, so you probably know the answers the client is hoping to hear for most of her questions. Avoid the cookie-cutter answers and personalize your responses by providing information that is unique to you and your business, AND unique to the client’s needs.
Get to Know Potential Clients
New clients are checking you out, looking at your work and possibly even talking to your other clients in order to determine if they should hire you. But don’t neglect the importance of your evaluation of him. Is he an ideal client for you? Will working with him support your business goals? Does he show signs of being a problem client?
Be Forthcoming with Information
There is certain information a potential client will want in order to gauge your experience and fit for her needs. Depending on the situation, as this is not appropriate for all situations, consider providing a full set of preliminary information with your proposal. Some things you may want to attach include a portfolio, references and case studies.
Show Your Passion
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd is by showing a real and unmistakable love for what you do. You obviously have a passion for your work, or else you wouldn’t be doing it, but we don’t always willingly show it in our day-to-day work. Let your enthusiasm show through, and the client will appreciate your excitement.
Listen (and Hear)
Part of working with a new client is listening to his needs, but possibly more important is hearing what isn’t being said. You need to analyze the information you receive from the client while intuitively knowing what questions to ask to get the most complete information possible. Much of this information can be gained from your standard project request form, but be willing to adjust and revise it when needed for each situation.
Let Your Reputation Speak
Consistently doing great work for clients, focusing on providing excellent customer service and being a professional all the time can speak volumes to a potential client. And she will uncover these details in her exploration of you. Building a solid positive reputation takes time, but eventually it will work for you on it’s own.
How do you make yourself stand above the rest?
Image credit: Dave Smith