What Can You Do if You Need Clients Yesterday?
In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I shared my thoughts on Appropriate Marketing in a Time of Crisis and What Kind of Marketing is Possible Right Now? The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on many self-employed professionals has been substantial. Even if you are able to perform your usual work under safer-at-home rules, your regular clients may not need your services right now. Or, they may simply be unable to pay you.
Either way, thousands of self-employed professionals are finding themselves in the uncomfortable situation of needing new clients immediately. If that’s you, don’t despair. Here are five suggestions for how to locate and land replacement clients in a hurry.
1. Translate what has worked for you in the past into the current environment rather than launching new approaches less familiar to you. You don’t have time for the learning curve and preparation that new marketing approaches always require.
For example, if you’ve always gotten business from public speaking, don’t suddenly switch to networking on LinkedIn. Since you don’t know how to use that approach, you’d be starting from square one. Instead, look for opportunities to guest speak online. That’s how all the networking groups, service clubs, and professional associations you used to speak for are meeting now.
2. Put most of your focus on outreach strategies – using the approaches my Get Clients Now! system designates as “direct contact and follow-up” plus “networking and referrals.” Save strategies aimed primarily at visibility – advertising, promotion, and publicity — for later, when you’re not in an emergency situation.
So, DO call, email, message, interact on social media, attend online networking meetings, and reach out to referral sources. DON’T try to build a social media presence for the first time, launch a new website or blog, or start a new PR or ad campaign. None of the latter are approaches that will produce rapid results.
3. Work to leverage your existing contacts and platforms. Make a point of calling and/or messaging all of your business contacts on every platform, including social media. Reach out directly to current and past clients, prospective clients, colleagues, members of affinity groups you belong to, and people you’ve met through networking.
Use your current situation as a reason to be in touch; you don’t need more than that right now. Anyone you speak to will understand your sudden loss of clients or income under the circumstances we are all dealing with. Remember to be considerate in your outreach. The people you are contacting may be suffering from losses also.
4. Build or refresh your referral network by connecting with people and institutions who share your target market – your potential referral partners. If you’re a commercial photographer, reach out to graphic designers who serve similar clients. If you’re an executive recruiter targeting start-ups, your potential partners could be attorneys specializing in stock offerings, investment bankers, or venture capitalists.
In addition to exchanging referrals with potential partners, consider going a step further and teaming up to help each other get business. A professional organizer and interior designer could combine forces to help people stuck at home make their surroundings more attractive and functional. Or, an accountant and a bookkeeper working together could assist small business owners to get their financials in better order, so they could apply for COVID-19 loans and grants.
5. Finally, see what help your city, state, or province might offer, as well as any associations or networks you belong to. Many groups are compiling job listings during the pandemic which include opportunities for freelancers and consultants to work remotely. Others are providing avenues for people who need work to connect with people who have work to offer.
For example, the state of California has launched OnwardCA to help state residents keep working. The state of New Jersey has a COVID-19 job board also. The One Club for Creativity is offering job postings for creatives. The new professional social network Upstream has created the Coronavirus Helping and Hiring group to help jobseekers and employers find each other.
It may not be easy to get clients in a hurry, but it can be done. Follow these suggestions and you’ll substantially increase your chances of finding new business, even during the pandemic.