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How to turn one-time clients into core fans of your design business

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Have you ever been found in this frequent freelance design situation?:

You work hard to find a client, you make a pitch to them, sign a contract, complete a project, get paid, and never see them again.

Granted, with some clients (the ridiculous kind) it’s better to never have to deal with them again. But there are plenty of cases where a one-time client simply fizzles out and you never see them again. Chances are, they’ll need design work done in the future and, unless you’ve converted this one-time client into a core fan of your work, they’ll likely forget about you or simply choose a different designer.

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So how can you turn one-time clients into core fans who keep coming back and bringing you business? Read on.

What is a core fan?

First, it’s important to understand why you need to worry about converting clients into core fans. Core fans are the kinds of clients that trust your judgment. They pay you promptly and always appreciate your hard work. Core fans tell their friends and business contacts about your work, brag about your design to everyone they can, and can’t stand to have anyone else do their design work.

In short, core fans bring in more money and more work.

Who doesn’t want that!?

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How to convert a client to a core fan

Now that you understand why building a core fan base for your business is important, how the devil are you supposed to do it? I mean it’s one thing to say you want your one-time clients to fall in love with your work, bring you steady income, and make you rich and successful.

It’s a whole other thing to actually do it.

Here’s the secret that a lot of successful business people don’t want you to know:

The key to converting regular clients into core fans is to help them have a paradigm-shifting experience. They need to have an experience with you as a designer that convinces them there is no other reason to work with anyone else. What do I mean? Let me offer a few things you can do to make a lasting impression on your clients:

1. Beat deadlines. And I don’t mean by just a few days, I mean get a project done for a client in half the time you originally told them. That’s the sort of thing they will never forget and next time they need a reliable designer, guess who they’ll call?

Yep. You.

2. Come in under budget. Again, I’m not talking by a few dollars here. I mean, find ways to really give your client a great deal on the work you provide. Be careful not to be known as the cheap designer, though.

3. Solve a major problem. Clients hire designers to solve their problems. Even if you don’t claim to be a marketer or an analyst, take time to analyze their problems and attempt to solve them through your work. Next time they face a problem, they’ll turn to you first.

How do you convert clients into fans?

So what are your secrets? Have you found a sure-fire way to turn regular ol’ clients into core fans of your design business? If so, let us know how you did it by leaving a comment.

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

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  1. yes these principals work well in any business – I have employed many tradesmen recently to work on my house. You quickly notice where people are more concerned with earning themselves money than with helping you solve problems on time and within your budget. You will trust the person who takes your issues seriously, including needing to save money, and it’s worth it in the long run to be honest and reliable.

    People who are focussed on the money may make bigger amounts but they don’t get the loyalty. Considering that I could be in my house for 30 years, if people are reliable I could be doing business with them far in the future.

  2. Great articles. You’re totally right too. Core Fans, or Brand Evangalists are so important.

    I don’t quite agree with the first point — beat deadlines. I do try to beat my deadlines by a half week usually, but any more than that and you end up with Core Fans going “they did it in half the time promised!” which leads to their referrals expecting the same.

    One thing my clients love is the transparancy we have in our process. The price we quote is the maximum price they pay – guaranteed. My website has a client back end where my Contractors and I can check off tasks and milestones as we hit them so clients can login to their area every day (or subscribe for email updates) and see what’s been done as it’s finished. We do it with every project — graphic design, logos, websites. Everything.

    That’s the one thing I hear over and over from clients that sets us apart.

  3. This is a really helpful article! Thanks for the great insight.


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  2. […] How to Turn One-Time Clients into Core Fans of Your Design Business […]

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