In order to book a client, you need to establish trust with them.
Trust that you’ll do the job.
Trust that you’ll fix any mistakes.
Trust that you won’t share confidential information.
Basically, trust in that you’ll be a good person to work with.
When it comes down to it, marketing is a way to build trust with your potential clients. It allows you to start a conversation with them which, ideally, ends at a place you can both help each other.
I know it’s been a while now but before I get into the marketing tactics, you need to have a firm foundation on why a tactic works and how it can help you.
Because sometimes, a tactic won’t help at all.
Let’s say you found a potential client that you want to approach. Take a moment and put yourself in their situation.
They have a problem with their business. It’s significant enough that they’ve started talking about it publicly. Someone (you) has approached them offering to help.
What do you think they’ll do?
Some will take you up on your offer right away. These are your prime customers, who are willing and able to jump right in.
Others will ignore you. They probably wouldn’t have ever become your customer so you’ll just have to move on.
But then there is a third group that is interested but doesn’t reply right away. They are in-between the "no" and the "yes" clients.
This third group needs a bit more before they commit to you. Even if the only commitment you’re asking for is some of their time.
That’s where what I call trust markers come in. Trust markers are pieces of marketing or other information you put out there to show people that you are trustworthy.
Think of them as the minimum amount of professionalism.
You wouldn’t let someone in a Hawaiian shirt, board shorts, and holding a drink operate on you. Not even if they said they’ve learned how to online (rather, especially if they said they learned how online). You’d expect a level of professionalism and the doctor to have a "look" before you’d trust him.
Different clients have different ideas of what the minimum level of trust is. For some, like the first group, just writing or talking clearly in your approach is all they need. For others, you might need to be a brand name that they’ve heard of before.
But the fact that there are different levels is something you can take advantage of.
What you need to do, and what I’ll describe over the next few weeks, is how to setup these trust markers so they are clearly visible when a potential client looks for them.
You don’t have to create them all. But the more you create, the more clients you’ll have a shot at working with. You’ll find your own balance.
P.S. One client I worked with really showed me how strong trust plays in a freelance relationship. I’ve worked with them for a few years at this point. They brought me onto a team for a project that I have very little experience with (PHP and WordPress development).
They knew I didn’t write code for those systems but they still wanted me. You know why? Because they said I "was more trustworthy than the expert WordPress developers they found and they knew I’d do my best to keep that trust".
They weren’t looking for the very best WordPress developer. They were looking for the most trustworthy person, who also knew how to write code for WordPress.
Trust. It can be more important than your technical skills to a client.