You are a freshly minted business owner. You are excited and ready to start offering all of your killer services, but then you realize … “I don’t have anyone to offer my services to.”
You think to yourself, “Oh sh*t, now what?
Getting your first client is always a struggle, and people often do not know where to begin. However, I think there is an easy formula to get your first client(s). Let’s begin.
Everyone always freaks out about this. But … but … but … why? “They should pay for these services,” you exclaim!
Why? They do not know you. You do not have an established history or previous clients that sing your praises, at least not yet.
There is nothing wrong with offering things for free. I actually think that you should always give your clients free things even when they are paying.
One of my favorite entrepreneurs Estee Lauder built her beauty empire on the notion of including a gift with every purchase. Have you ever received an unexpected gift? It makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Not even my Mom gives me unexpected gifts. This is customer centric behavior and it is so rare these days that the simple act of even a small gift can make you stand out.
We offer free things all of the time to people. Free logos for people. Free edits on a website. Free marketing trials. Even right now, we are spending some of the profits of a project on a Snapchat campaign to show our client the conversion rate and how their target demographic interacts with Snapchat.
Although, I do not track the actual ROI on free things we give away, I know that it is huge in comparison to what we give.
Now, the caveat here is that you need to be selective about the clients you are offering free services to initially. Not all clients are made equal. Seriously– read this if you think otherwise.
You want to be selective with your clients. Find a client that represents your target demographic and if possible, one who is an influencer of your target demographic. Offer them free services. If they deny you, go to the next person in that circle.
You want to get a 5-10 of these people. Ideally in different friend groups and industries. That way, if you do not vibe with a few of them or if some are not actually that interested in your service, you have others to work with.
Now I know what you are thinking, “But when do I make any money?” I know, I know. We are getting to it, so calm down.
This part is actual very important. Other people offer free services, but not that many offer back to back free services.
Heck, people are so obsessed with their profit margins these days that punch cards are basically non-existent. You can’t even get free coffee after buying 10 cups of coffee anymore.
So offer so more free stuff to your initial costumers. This can sometimes be difficult depending on what industry you are in, but try your best to make it work.
If you are in a service industry with low end services- 5-100 dollars- you should have no problem.
Now after this person has their second round of free service what you need to do is ask them for something, not money, referrals.
You just need to say, “(Insert client name), I hope you are really enjoying the services. You are my first client, and I am trying to establish my business. If you like the service, would you mind referring me to one or two people who you think also might like this service?”
Normally after two rounds of free things that they love, not only are they happy to refer you, they would love to. You are now a unique person who takes great care of your clients. You interests align with them and not with your pocket.
The lifetime value of these customers and the referrals they bring will return huge dividends over the coming months.
People think that this is strange. However, companies will spend mountains of money on advertising that will go to other huge corporations like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Snapchat.
You have a small to no marketing budget, so you should spend every cent you have adding extreme value on your new costumer.
There is really only two steps to this, but there is one mistake that people make after the first two. They start charging the referral clients. I know what you are thinking again, “But when do I make any money?” The answer is: in the future.
Ideally, you should know your margins. If you are a hairstylist and you make 50% on each haircut. When this costumer comes back two more times you will start to make money on the client: but, when the client comes back for the remainder of their life then the ROI on the small investment will be huge.
People will complain that this is hard and they are right. It is hard, but to be honest, having a business or being a Soloprenuer is also hard. This will give you freedom and profit in the future.
A lot of this originated from two places. One this amazing book that everyone should check out, 1000 True Fans and from one amazing client we have.
This one we offered free things to. We love working with him and he loves working with us. He refers his friends who are also like him and they refer their friends. He and his friends have basically become our biggest fans and our entire sales team.
Getting your first clients can be tough, but make sure you stick to it. Anything worth doing is hard.