Greetings, Training for Translators readers! I hope you’re all doing well! Here’s a resource recommendation for you. One of my favorite freelance business bloggers, Jennifer Goforth Gregory, just launched a marketing newsletter for freelancers, called GoForth and Freelance. It’s free, and I highly recommend it. Jennifer writes an amazing blog and newsletter for freelance content marketing writers, and this new publication is for freelancers in general.
This week, let’s talk about nudging dormant clients. If you’re new to this concept, here’s a blog post I wrote about it earlier this year. Basically, you want to find a reason to get in touch with clients you worked for in the past, but who you haven’t heard from in a while, remind them that you exist, and that you’d like to work with them.
You can be straightforward:
-“Just checking in, because according to my records, I passed your tests and was onboarded in June, but we haven’t yet worked together. Is there anything in the pipeline that might be a good fit?”
You can refer to the last time you worked together:
-“Just checking in, because I really enjoyed the patent translation I did for you in September, and I’d love to work together again if the need arises.”
You can reference upcoming availability:
-“In looking over my schedule, I’m available for interpreting work during the week of December 4. Unfortunately I’ve been booked the last couple of times you contacted me, so I wondered if you’re looking to fill any assignments during that time?”
You can nudge them because something changed on your end:
-“I had a large project set up for this week that ended up being cancelled, and I wondered if anything last-minute might have come up on your end?”
The point here isn’t so much the actual wording, it’s making it easy for the client to book something with you. Every year, when I tell people in my March Marketing Madness challenge group that nudging is a) the world’s most boring marketing technique, and b) the world’s most effective marketing technique, they tend to respond something like, “I don’t want to nudge, because clients know where to find me if they want to work with me. It seems pushy and annoying!” To which I say, humor me and just try it! Nudging doesn’t work 100% of the time (no marketing method does). But in this year’s March Marketing Madness, people came back with results like:
- Wow, glad I tried it! A client I hadn’t heard from in six months sent me a $1,500 project
- Oh geez, it turned out that the agency was waiting to hear from me while I was waiting to hear from them; glad I followed up!
- I e-mailed a dormant interpreting client and specifically told them I’m interested in on-site work and travel assignments; a lot of their interpreters only want to work from home, so they immediately booked me for 10 days of work
If you’re still not convinced, here’s a story of how nudging worked on me. I tend to like to do my own household chores, but two years ago, I admitted defeat on the landscaping. We have a fairly large xeriscape (no grass, low-water) garden in our front yard, and it’s beautiful and environmentally great, but it takes a lot of maintenance. Rather than just running the lawnmower over it, you’re on your hands and knees, weeding for hours. I finally admitted that I hate yard work. I don’t love cleaning, and I’d actually much rather clean than do yard work. I had the money, so I hired a really great landscaping crew. They’re easy to work with, they show up on time, they work incredibly hard, and our garden looks so good that we’ve had people stop by to take pictures of it, plus the landscapers have gotten referrals to four other houses on our street. The only hitch is a) they’re fairly expensive, and b) I still have some guilt about not doing this work myself, simply because I feel like I should.
Earlier this fall, I was thinking that the garden could use one more good clean-up before winter. But I kept telling myself:
- Weeding isn’t that hard! Surely I can just take a Saturday afternoon, listen to some podcasts, and get this done!
- I shouldn’t spend the money! I have the money, but this is something I could do myself!
- And yet…I “never got around to it” (code for: avoided it and made excuses not to do it).
The garden languished. And then one day, my landscaper texted me. “Hey Corinne, I hope you’re doing well! We had a cancellation tomorrow and we’re going to be in your neighborhood. If you’d like one final clean-up before winter, I can offer a 10% discount since it’s last-minute.” I admitted defeat, and told him to come over, and the garden is back to looking amazing. This is how nudging works: you slip off the client’s radar screen, or they mean to contact you but don’t get around to it, but if you get in front of them first, there’s a much higher chance that they’ll suddenly send you some work!
If you have a nudging story, let us know about it in the comments!
Corinne McKay (email@example.com) is the founder of Training for Translators, and has been a full-time freelancer since 2002. She holds a Master of Conference Interpreting from Glendon College, is an ATA-certified French to English translator, and is Colorado court-certified for French interpreting. If you enjoy her posts, consider joining the Training for Translators mailing list!