Getting your first clients is probably the biggest challenge of any startup organization. You have the skills, you have the willingness, but you need to get someone to believe in your abilities and expertise.
Getting your first clients requires you to learn some basic sales techniques that can help you get your first project commissioned.
In this post, we’ll be looking into three essential approaches you can use to get your business off the ground.
With no further ado, let’s get started with the first approach, what we call the “Door to Door”.
- The “Door to Door” Approach
The “Door to Door” approach is the one that requires you to go and look for clients by actively proposing your services literally door-to-door to target businesses.
This approach is a little “make it or break it” and it is not always advisable.
In the door-to-door approach, you do tend to ask for a commitment upfront and it’s quite unlikely that by cold-selling your services you have built the – necessary – underlying relationship that leads to conducting business.
It is not all bad though, so let’s see some of its uses.
Great to Conduct Research
When you start a company you develop your “value proposition” or “USP” by making a few assumptions on your clients and on the market.
In many cases, most of your assumptions need to be corrected, and doing some “Door to Door” sales can help you understand how far you shoot from the mark.
The door-to-door approach to landing clients is in fact a great market research approach that makes sure you’re conducting engaging conversations with your target customers and learning a lot from them as you try to understand how you can help them.
The trick is not to be too sales-oriented in the process. Let’s look at this aspect in more depth in the next section of the post.
Don’t Be Too Sales-Oriented
Customers approach purchases as a journey during which they collect information, ask for validation and make up their minds.
If you decide to build your client list by going door-to-door it’s important that you’re leaving some time and opportunity to your customers so that they can make up their minds.
A way to do this is by offering a no-risk offer, such as a free consultation, a seminar, or some type of experience that allows them to learn more about what you have to offer without committing to anything yet.
If a new client is freshly acquired you can’t expect them to trust you right off the bat and commit large sums of money to work with you.
On the contrary, you should find ways to prove yourself to them without asking them to sign any large check yet.
Once you have provided some proof of concept through a no-risk offer, you can then reel the client in with a small-ticket project, something affordable that allows you to get them into your sales system.
Let’s look into this in the next section of our post.
Start with Small Ticket Projects
Obviously, nothing prevents you to start with a massive mega-project, but chances are you can be more successful if you start with something smaller, which allows you to build the trust and confidence that can get you to sell bigger ticket projects down the line.
A small size ticket can focus on something that you know is able to impact your client’s business, but will also get him\her excited about working with you again.
Maybe conduct some market research on new products to sell, maybe identify underserved customer audiences, or design a better landing page than the one he\she is currently using.
Projects of this nature can get you in a long-term relationship with your clients where, in the span of a few months, so that in no time you start charging much more.
You Can Always Upsell Later
Once a client has built sufficient trust with your consulting, you can start upselling your services.
So far you have connected with a potential customer, you’ve involved him\her into the network of your business and you’ve converted him with a small trial run.
Now you can start pitching “bigger picture” projects where you’re able to focus on large ticket items.
This approach shows that there is a lot of risks involved when you’re cold-pitching a client without having a chance of building up the relationship first.
But what if all of this warm-up could be done in a different way?
Maybe by making yourself familiar by driving some inbound traffic your way?
That’s what we’re going to discuss in the next section of the post.
- The “Inbound Marketing” Approach
This approach is related to developing an inbound strategy for your business.
This is an entirely different approach to the Door-to-Door but it’s not incompatible with it.
Actually, we advise spending time developing both approaches, as with the former you can test your assumptions and refine your value proposition, while with the second one you are developing a lead-generation machine.
Building Inbound Clients Is Great
Why is it that inbound marketing is so effective? Well, because it reverses the sales equation.
Instead of being you the one initiating the conversation, it’s actually your customers asking you if you can help them.
In this approach, you are creating content in three types of media: owned media (developed by your firm), earned media (through social networks and review sites), and paid media (through advertising) which will help customers understand a problem they are facing in their business.
As a result of benefitting from your expertise for free, they will develop familiarity with you and in time, if your services are aligned with their needs, they will reach out to you for assistance.
Seems too good to be true? Well, it actually is that simple.
There are, however, a few things we do need to consider when pursuing this approach.
It’s More Time Consuming
As opposed to going physically door to door, you are developing helpful, informative content that will help your business reach its intended audience.
This approach can be more time-consuming because most of the media you’ll be creating will take time to rank or to develop momentum.
Also, if you’re willing to drive inbound traffic to your website and start collecting leads, you need to have much more time available to create content over time.
Ideally, it can take up to 6 months to fully rank your websites’ content, so at a startup stage, when you need to quickly get your business off the ground this approach could be difficult to stick to.
And that’s not it, there is more to consider.
It’s Expensive to Create Content That Drives Traffic
Moreover, content creation (blogs, video, podcasts, etc…) is expensive to produce and in the long run, your customer acquisition strategy can stack up to the substantial cost.
What we need to think about, in order how to offset this cost is that in many cases, even landing one or two projects per month through this lead-generation approach can be enough to make ends meet.
More importantly, you need to remember that ranked content on the web is going to stay relevant for your customers over an extended amount of time, and any effort you’re putting in developing your content strategy will become a long-term asset for your brand.
Finally, it’s important to notice that your blog posts could be a source of income on their own terms, through advertising.
If you’d like to learn more about this, we’ve got the perfect resource: 11 Ways to Fund Your Fashion Firm Through Blogging.
Content is a Large Net While Your Services Should Be Niche
The last factor to take into account is that your inbound strategy will cover many areas related to your industry, but it’s likely that only for some of them you’ll be able to reel in some of the customers’ leads.
This approach is no “make it or break it” approach but it does entail a learning curve as you hone your digital marketing skills.
Can’t you just go after the big bucks?
Well after having developed approaches #1 and #2 it’s now time to go for the “Business Card Approach”.
- The “Business Card” Approach
The third and last approach we’re going to discuss is the “Business Card” approach which indicates the professional courtesy of exchanging details and contact information with potential higher-end clients.
This is obviously what we all hope to get to at some point in our career, but in order to compete for these higher-ticket clients, there are some things we need to have going for us.
Starting from a Portfolio.
It Requires a Portfolio
We need evidence of high-quality output and remarkable achievement. This could be shown through a portfolio of clients or a portfolio of successful projects that we have accomplished.
Unless we’re able to show our track record and our success in business, it may be hard to be taken seriously by higher-end firms.
When you’re disposing of a big budget your clients need to make sure they have all possible guarantees in place when it comes to getting a return on their investment.
Unless you’re in the position of showing the returns you’ll provide for your clients, it may be better to wait and avoid spending your name just yet.
It Requires a Team
When it comes to higher-budget clients, it’s important to know that it’s not only about conceiving the idea or the strategy, it’s also (or especially) about the implementation.
When engaged in a project with a larger client you need to have a team assisting you in delivering the results that you promised.
In this context, you need to realize that even if you may be competing in the market for clients, you are also competing for talent. I
f you’re able to attract, select, recruit and retain talent, you’ll be gaining a solid advantage over your competition.
If you’re looking to find out more information on how to create a team for your business, look no further, in this post we’re addressing the matter in full depth.
Great, now that we’ve touched upon these three distinct approaches to getting clients for your fashion consulting firm, we can move ahead and draw a few conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve presented 3 essential approaches to getting clients for your fashion consulting firm.
As we’ve discussed, presenting yourself and your consulting firm to potential clients requires a lot of sales skills, and a little bit of patience to get the business off the ground.
Which approach to choose? Well, you don’t have to choose: you can start from the door-to-door to refine your value proposition, build traffic through inbound marketing and then target the big leagues once you have established your authority in your niche.
If you’re interested in learning more about the skills necessary to become a successful fashion consultant, in this article we discuss the best practices to follow to be a world-class consultant in the creative industries.
If you’re interested in learning more about the fashion industry, don’t hesitate to navigate our blog, which provides a wealth of knowledge for you to access! Enjoy!