Most social media service providers don’t really care about the quality of their clients. They only care about the money that they’re going to get out of the contract. There is nothing wrong to think about money, but it shouldn’t be the only factor in the whole equation.
Why selecting clients?
There are many reasons why not working with every client you stumble on will help your business grow. Some of them are:
1- Some clients will only suck your time and energy for no real return
As I told you before, many service providers care only about the quick buck they’re going to be making. However, serious ones think big! They think about the growth of their companies more than anything else. I know that you’ve probably heard of some blog owners who didn’t put a single advertising until they’ve achieved the growth they’re seeking. They could’ve made lots of money when they were growing, but instead, they spent years building their businesses because they knew that once you have a community, money will never be a problem.
In the social media service providing market, some clients will waste a lot of your time because they’re not professional entrepreneurs. Even though you get paid for your time, there will be no real return in terms of business growth. Every time you work with them, you end up tired, exhausted and worst of all demotivated. Sometimes the client doesn’t pay in time, doesn’t respond to your emails, schedule something with you and then doesn’t show up, doesn’t lessen to your recommendations…etc. When this happens very often, then it’s better to end the contract and focus your time and energy on serious clients.
2- You get to choose the clients who are most suitable for you and your business
This is not about being in control or anything. If you look at some superstar consultant in every market, you’ll see that they’re very picky when it comes to choosing contracts. In Hollywood, you see that some actors decline huge contracts to work on movies with smaller budgets. These guys know for sure that it’s not all about money, it’s more about working with people who you share a common vision with and on projects that will help you move forward with your career.
I know that many people will tell me that this only applies to super stars and big consultants, but I can tell you that they got there by not chewing any contract they come across. So be selective and only work with clients that you know for sure you’re going to learn new things from their businesses along the way.
3- Because otherwise, you’re going to build a bad reputation
Do you know the saying of “stop it before it even begins”? I’m sure you probably do.
You might step on all of your doubts and accept a contract because it’s very lucrative. You know that you’re probably not going to be able to help the client or otherwise. After a while, you’re going to get in disagreement with the client, and end up ending the contract the very first weeks.
You know why some service providers keep clients for months and even years?
It’s mainly because they’ve selected their clients carefully!
The bad thing is that the client will think that it’s your fault, and you end up:
1- Losing the referral contracts that happy clients bring.
2- Losing your precious time, effort and energy (as well as the client’s).
3- With a bad feedback from the client, especially if you’re using platforms like eLance, oDesk…etc. Even if you get your clients organically from your website or blog’s traffic, you don’t want a list of angry clients who are waiting for a chance to sink your reputation.
How about clients whom I’m not sure I’ll be able to help?
Sometimes you find a client who meets your criteria, but you suspect that you can’t really help them as they’re expecting from you to do so. In this situation, I advise you to decline the contract. Don’t be a misleader. Instead, accept only clients who you know you can help. Doing this will increase your chances of getting more referrals from your happy clients and more business out of your existing ones.
How to spot bad clients even before working with them
No matter what source you’re getting clients from, it’s pretty obvious who’s going to be a good fit for you and your business and who’s not. Based on their job description or the contact message they send, I can easily spot these things:
1- Very short description or contact message
It’s true that everyone seems to be busy these days, but that doesn’t justify the client writing a one line job description or YOU writing a one line application. I sometimes find an employer with a job description like this “I need an SMM for my business”.
These clients either don’t care about you or about their businesses because they didn’t bother writing a detailed description about their businesses and the services they’re in need for.
2- Cheap service seekers
From my own analysis, I believe that probably more than 90% of people posting on freelancing platforms are cheap services seekers. The reason behind many freelancers submitting dozens of applications just to get one contract is that they apply for any job they stumble on.
If you want to dramatically increase your acceptance rate, you need to put filters on what job you should apply for and what you shouldn’t. I usually don’t bother writing a proposal until I make sure that the client is serious and willing to move their business forward. This way I save myself lots of time and frustration of getting rejected by cheap service seekers.
It’s pretty easy to spot cheap service seekers. You usually see that they’re in a hurry or say that they’re short on budget. If you find in the description something like:
1- I need 5000 US Facebook fans for $15.
2- I need 1000 visitors per day by the end of the month for $100.
3- The lowest bid will win…etc
If you stay away from these clients, you’ll discover that you’re submitting less applications and getting more clients.
Not all resellers are bad for your business, but many of them will take most of the money they get from their clients and leave you with nothing (and you’re the one doing the work!).
I worked with great resellers before who know how to do business. They find clients, contact me about the rate, and if I agree, we’ll start the contract. They take their share because they’re the ones providing clients, and I’ll take the bigger share of course because I’m the one doing the work. When I’m looking for new clients, I always try to find social media agencies that are looking for social media marketers. When working with them, I don’t have to deal with any client generation. Instead, I only focus on the work I should do to help their clients.
I advise you to look for social media agencies if you’re an independent freelance social media marketer. Once you’re approved, you’ll never have to worry about getting clients again, especially if you do a great job.
On the other hand, stay away from resellers who try to find the cheapest labor possible. I’ve witnessed many of them provide their clients with fake fans and followers because they wanted to take 90% of the money the client is paying, give the 10% to the fake accounts providers and pretend that their client’s social following is increasing.
The qualities I seek in my clients!
Now that you know why you should select clients that you’re going to be working with, here are the qualities I personally seek in my clients:
A few days ago, I was impressed by a job description I found on eLance. I found this female business owner who has written a very detailed job description with every information a contractor may need to form a solid picture about what the business is all about. The great thing is that she ended the description with this exact phrase:
“I would be willing to speak to someone daily by email. I am 100% available and willing to communicate with an assistant. I am open to suggestions.”
This instantly implies that the client is serious and willing to give what it takes to move their business to the next level. I like to see motivated and enthusiastic clients like this, because they instantly transfer their enthusiasm to me even after months of working together.
I like to work with serious clients who appreciate their businesses and my services. They’re always available and on time. They work hard with you and not throw the ball in your court and wait for miracles to happen. They have a vision and can see the big picture. They’re simply willing to give it 110% to help you achieve your tasks easily and move their businesses to the next level.
2- Open to learn
The biggest obstacle I face which I know most of you are facing as well is having clients who are outside of the online marketing world. Sometimes you find serious clients but they don’t really know what it takes to make social media work for their businesses. In this situation, education plays a major role in moving with the contract forward. If they’re open to learn, then this will make it even easier. Some people may say that it’s not your job to teach them, but I believe that educating your clients is the only way you’re going to help them.
Sometimes you find stubborn clients who are pretty hard to convince. What I do is simply grab some statistics and case studies from the web and show them that the opportunity that the strategy I’m going to implement for them is huge. When they see stats from leading websites and blogs, they’ll be more than willing to agree with you or even allocate a budget for it if it’s required.
3- The client who teaches me new things about business
One of my very first clients was an online marketer who I worked with mainly on SEO. I’ve never worked with such a person who teaches me something new almost every day. He schedules a discussion with me every 1 or 2 days and discusses with me new strategies and techniques that we could implement. The great thing is that he considered these discussions part of the business and told me always to submit them so I get paid for my time (although I never did).
The point is I like to work with clients who are real business owners and entrepreneurs. Besides the good pay and experience you get from these clients, you’ll learn tons of stuff that you can implement in your business to grow it. I don’t like where I always be the teacher, so this type of clients is probably my favorite.
4- Well connected clients
These clients are real goldmines. If you work with a well-connected client and provide them with great services, then they will recommend you to their connections each time they have the chance to. You can easily check if your client is well connected or not by taking a look on their social profiles, especially LinkedIn.
I know that you’ve probably heard that the best business comes from referrals and it’s absolutely true. However, getting the right clients who can refer you to their connections isn’t an easy task. Once you have a happy well-connected client, they’ll be more than happy to refer you to their connections, and you might even get your biggest opportunity ever, especially if you do an exceptional job.
5- Reasonable clients
Don’t you just hate it when you find clients who want to get 1000 consistent organic visitors per day to their websites in just one month? I do!
I worked with some clients in the past who thought that internet marketing is just a magic button click. I believe that internet marketers are guilty in this as well because of all the misleading messages that they put to get people purchasing their products.
We, social media marketers, realize that it takes lots of time, effort and sometimes money to build a solid following. However, people outside the social media marketing world don’t really realize that. If you see that your client is serious enough, then you might help them understand what it really takes lots of time and effort to build a solid following.
I sometimes get clients who are fully aware that social media marketing is not a magic button or a fit-for-all solution. They even state in their job descriptions that they know that social media success takes lots of time and effort, and they are willing to be patient to finally see the fruit of your as well as their hard work. This type of clients is probably the best, since you don’t have to convince them of anything. They’re already putting very low expectation (and I’m not talking about pessimism here), because they’re aware of what it takes to build and maintain and successful business.
These were the qualities I seek in my clients. However, I know that sometimes you have to make exceptions just to keep the ball rolling. Let me know of what qualities you seek in your clients in the comment section below.
Image Credit: KB35