There’s no doubt about it, starting any new business can be very intimidating. Once you’ve figured out your plan for starting your social media marketing agency and gotten all of your ducks in order, then comes one of the biggest hurdles: getting your first client.
Starting your own SMMA is both exciting and terrifying, and it can be particularly difficult if you are an introvert or not all that comfortable with approaching strangers. If networking even or picking up the phone to cold call local businesses make your palms sweaty, then this blog is for you! Fortunately or unfortunately, being social and putting yourself out there is an essential part of landing clients, and in this blog, I’m going to help you learn how you can land clients with no work experience.
Check Job Boards/Freelancing Sites
If you don’t have any agency work experience when heading into pursuing your first client, there’s no need to panic! Job boards and freelancing site will allow you to build up a portfolio and gain confidence by completing small jobs or contracts.
Upwork and Freelancer.com are just a couple of popular sites that allow you to bid on jobs and start making connections in the social media world and to get testimonials from satisfied clients. However, there is a lot of competition on these job sites.
People from all over the world are bidding on the same jobs you might be bidding on, but for a lot less. But if you have a skill to offer that is unique, then you should receive a decent response rate. And once you start getting great reviews and testimonials, clients will know that you’re worth working with.
Fiverr is another option. It is low pay, but it can be a great place for automated revenue to come in. However, bids are low on these sites, so don’t use this as your entire strategy for gaining experience. Your primary focus on Fiverr and the other sites is should be on gaining experience for your portfolio and testimonials from satisfied clients.
While job boards and freelancing sites are great for people who might be more introverted, it should only be one aspect of your strategy. If you want your social media marketing agency to grow, then you must overcome your fear and step out of your comfort zone to get out and meet people in your industry.
A great place to start networking is on the websites Meetup.com or Eventbrite. You can use these sites to search for events happening in your area. Another great way to meet new people in interesting industries in a lower pressure environment is at co-working spaces.
Co-working is a great way to meet people who probably know someone who could use your services. Many of these spaces offer free day passes, and some up to 2 weeks for FREE, and can be a huge benefit to you. Anyone who has worked from home knows that being on your own day in and day out makes it challenging to meet people and get leads.
Another way to find events where you can meet people is to simply search Google for “business events” happening in your area.
Reaching Out to Your Existing Contacts
A great first step when you’re trying to build your client base is to look right in front of you. Reach out to family and friends and let them know that you’re starting a business. Explain the services you’ll be offering and what you’ll be doing with your business. Shoot them an email or a quick message on Social Media to say:
“Hey, I’m starting a new business helping people with X. If you come across anyone who might need something like that, feel free to send them my way.”
It is NOT recommended that you contact people you haven’t talked to in years, but rather stick to those you speak to fairly regularly. If you reach out to contact someone who hasn’t spoken to in 15 years and try to sell your services, you will come across as desperate.
Work For Free
While the goal of starting your SMMA is to make money, sometimes you have to make some sacrifices that will pay off in the long run. If you have no experience, no clients, and no way of getting clients, then try reaching out to someone you know that needs help and offer to do something for them for free in exchange for a testimonial.
Most of the time you will get a yes, but you will get your fair share of no’s too—a lot of people are hesitant of free work, so you might have to do some convincing, that’s normal. Bonus points if you can get a client who has a decent following, and their testimonial or reference would really help you get future clients.
Offering free bonuses or other incentives for clients is a good strategy to hold onto, even once you’ve landed a few clients. It is a great way to build trust and show your expertise.
Let People Know You’re Looking
Aside from just reaching out to people you know through email, messages, and conversation, you should also update all of your online profiles, especially LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great place for you to broadcast to a large audience that you are actively looking for clients.
Update your profile by adding in your side business as a new company. Put your title as “Website Designer” or “Social Media Consultant,” or whatever service you offer, and describe exactly what you do for people.
Cold Outreach via Email or Phone Calls
Though many new business owners might feel uncomfortable reaching out to businesses cold, it can be an effective way of introducing yourself and your services. Even though you might not get clients from your first try, the people you reach out to will now know that you exist and think of you in the future when they’re looking for the services you offer.
Google local businesses in your niche and cold call them or email these businesses and offer them your services and tell them how you can help them. Keep finding new businesses to reach out to and keep doing it, and over time you might be surprised when a business owner wants to set up a meeting to hear more about your business.
Partner with Other Businesses
People who own businesses in similar niches are often a great resource when it comes to ways of exchanging referrals and driving business to each other.
For example, find a complimentary service and see what you can do to help each other. A web designer could partner with a marketing agency who doesn’t build websites, and they can send them marketing clients, while the marketing agency can send the designer website clients.
Be a Guest on Someone’s Blog, Podcast, or YouTube Channel
A huge part in growing your client list is simply ensuring that people know that your business exists. Reach out to someone you know in your niche that is producing content on a regular basis and see if you can collaborate on their platform by being a guest—whether a guest writer or an interview guest.
Be sure not to sell yourself on their show, and make sure that what you offer will provide value to the person’s audience. Your information should be valuable, relevant and worthwhile for them and their audience. So much so that the audience will feel compelled to find out more about you and your business.
Be Active in Online Communities
Getting involved in online communities and answering questions in groups that your potential clients might be hanging out in could, over time, lead to a connection. Quora is a great site to get comfortable answering questions about your niche market.
It may seem like you’re only reaching that one person, but there is a search feature in Facebook groups that allow people to go back and see if someone has answered a question in the past.
Conferences are a great place to meet people in your industry and possibly find new clients that need your expertise, or even business partnerships.
FREE conferences have to make up for lost ticket sales by offering sponsors to speak and sell from the stage. It is always recommended to find one that charges a small entrance fee.
There are tons of other ways to get your first customer, and honestly, it’s going to depend on what kind of services you’re providing.
Just make sure you are offering value first, not just trying to sell right away. That’s not how good relationships work. Show up, give so much value people can’t forget you, and follow up. Ninety-five percent of people don’t follow up, so that puts the responsibility on you to keep that relationship going.
Most of them involve meeting people and reaching out to strangers. But referrals are extremely powerful, so make sure you exhaust your personal contacts list as well as reaching out to new people.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to land more clients and make your SMMA a success, then enroll in our Digital Marketing School today! You can also follow us on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook for more helpful content daily, and visit our blog for more FREE training.