By Julia Borgini
Think you're bothering prospects with your marketing?
Well, you're not. Especially if you want to grow your freelance business, you should be marketing all of the time.
In fact, it's this repetition of your marketing that will win you more business in the long run. After all, we know the statistics that show how many "touches" it takes before a prospect buys from you, right?
Not every prospect is ready to buy at the exact moment you talk to them, so staying on their radar on a regular basis is the name of the game. You want to be the first person they think about when they are ready to buy.
You're not bothering anyone
You should never think your marketing is "bothering" someone. There are a million reasons why your prospect didn't get back to you when you expected.
- Maybe they suddenly got sick and weren't in the office to read your emails.
- Perhaps the project they wanted to use you on lost funding.
- Or they moved into a new position and aren't the decision-maker on these projects anymore.
I had a recent experience that showed me the value of patience with my prospects.
We spent three whole months talking before he decided to sign on the dotted line, and that was even with a project he needed help on when we first spoke.
The project scope changed twice. First, the company brought in a marketing consultant to help flesh out the entire project timeline, and then his boss (who had the final say) went on vacation for a few weeks.
Three months and one week exactly had passed from our first email communication to the last one where he said, "Yes, let's do it."
Throughout that time I sent him periodic emails asking if he had any further questions; forwarding articles and other content on related topics I thought he might like, and generally just let him know that I was still interested.
To be effective, you've got to be annoying
In fact, I believe it was my last email where I told him that my calendar was filling up that he finally was able to make a decision. So if you're at all afraid of being annoying, you won't be an effective marketer for your business. Your business won't grow, and you'll be even more frustrated.
Okay, not annoying, but persistent
Send out regular and persistent marketing to your prospects, but there's no need to hit them over the head with your sales messages every time. Try using a variety of methods, like these:
Eliminate the emotion
As I mentioned, there could be a whole raft of reasons why a prospect isn't getting back to you, so don't take it personally if she takes longer than you'd like.
Be pleasant with her during each interaction so you don't give her any reason to ignore you on purpose. Provide value every time and she’ll look forward to hearing from you.
I often like to include a link to an article I've written since we last spoke, or a link to one that I think would help them out. That way, if they're not ready to decide on our project, they still get some value out of the interaction.
Be precise in your follow-ups
Skip the generic "just checking in with you" type of messages and ask something specific.
For example, ask if your prospect has any questions on the timeline or dates you proposed. Tell him you're free to talk more about the project next Thursday at 2:00 p.m. Being precise helps your prospect formulate his response and gather all the information needed before talking with you.
Know when to talk pricing
Some prospects shy away from talking with you because it may be time to talk about price.
You should never shy away about the money talk, as it's part of your business. Get comfortable with your rates and what goes into the work you provide for each project.
Give them an out
It's okay for a prospect to say no, but many are scared of confrontation and don't want to disappoint you. But you'd rather know one way or the other, right? Then you’ll know if you need to move on to another prospect.
So tell them! "If you've decided to go with another writer, that's okay — just let me know."
Keep track of who hasn't answered
Some freelancers use a fancy CRM program like Basecamp or Salesforce, but a simple spreadsheet works just as well.
Keep a record of who you reached out to, when, and how you did it (email, phone, voicemail, social media, etc.) Then you can bring up that information in your future communications, which serve as a good reminder to your prospect that you're not contacting them out of the blue.
So what if they think I'm annoying?
Let's face it, some prospects will think you're annoying and will ask you to stop contacting them. Believe it or not, that's a good thing. After all, you don't want to be bothering someone who finds you annoying, right?
There are others who aren't bothered by you and may buy from you at some point, just maybe not now (like the prospect I mentioned earlier.)
For more tips on getting over the fear of following up, check out these posts:
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