Art of Business: Reach Out to New Clients

Looking for ways to reach out to new clients? Tr2016 Artist's and Graphic Designer's Markety these ideas from Maria Piscopo to give yourself a boost and catch the attention of art directors!

~ Noel

Today’s competitive marketplace has most freelancers asking what clients really want when they are buying services. The key is to look at the client you don’t have yet, not necessarily your regular clients! Regular clients are already giving you work. Do keep selling to them but devise a second plan to reach out to prospective clients in a new way. This article will give you some self-promotion tips as well as some testimonials from clients. Please remember these tips and testimonials are for prospective clients. How do they want to be sold to? Ask them!

  • Clients will categorize your services in order to find you when they need you. Photography, illustration and design are very broad catchall categories. Have separate promotions when you sell different styles or types of freelance work.
  • Sourcebook ads are especially important for illustrators and photographers with a strong visual style. The ads allow you to “broadcast” your message and let clients call you. Always be able to support that style with a complete portfolio of similar visuals.
  • Use direct mail with really strong images. Show the purest work, show what you can do not necessarily what your current client did with the work. Often, clients don’t know what was your work and what was post-production.
  • Plan a manageable portfolio, not too many pieces, something clients can simply and quickly categorize. It does put you in a pigeonhole, but at least it puts you somewhere!
  • Don’t make wasted calls! It’s hard for clients to take “Hey, how’s it going?” calls. Have a good strong verbal script before you pick up the phone.
  • Clients need to be reminded of your work very consistently. What stops most freelancers is the lack of a plan for sending promos and for having enough promos to send. For prospective clients you have been in constant touch with and not worked with yet, it is time to get creative. Send interesting article clippings, notices of gallery openings, congratulations on a new business pitch or product they are working on even invitations to join you at industry association meetings! Contact your local chapters of American Society of Media Photographers, American Institute of Graphic Arts, The Graphic Artists Guild of the The Ad Club to name just a few to attend with your clients.
  • Bottom line is that a lot of this is timing. The more follow-up you send, the more likely your promo arrives when the perfect project for you comes in.

Now, let’s hear from some clients:

From Michelle Gauthier, Marketing and Communications Manager at Waterloo Maple, Inc. “To me, an impressive portfolio that always gets my attention contains freelance work relating to my own industry, information technology.”

Tracy Smith, Art Director at Spring Industries, tells us “First send your promotional pieces, call to follow-up to get your foot in the door and set up a time we can meet face-to-face. This is hard to do but don’t give up.”

Meredith Brison, Creative Department Manage for Ha*lo Advertising agrees, “Do your follow-up! I have a particular freelance illustrator who sends me samples of his most current work as updates. It is a subtle yet effective way to keep his name in my mind. It is one of the best examples of being creative and knowing how to do business that I have seen.”

Rob O’Reilly, senior Art Director at Access Advertising, “Send something completely unexpected. Most promos are boring. The more weird and off-center, the better!”


Excerpted from the 2006 Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market.

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