Friday, June 24, 2011

A Writer's Reputation

A Stable Client Base is Built on a Solid Reputation

by Paul Lalley:

A Stable Client Base Is Founded On A Solid Reputation
As freelance web writers, a stable client base - one in which work comes organically - lets us sleep soundly each night. But there are plenty of other benefits to having repeat buyers.

If you run your copy writing biz on a transactional basis, moving from one gig to the next "transaction," you'll spend more time marketing and less time actually earning dough.

Keep those happy clients in place and protect your reputation. Here's why:

• Your cost per acquisition (CPA) drops as repeat business is generated. Clients call on you for advice and help which, in turn, becomes a regular source of revenue depending on the services you provide.

• Clients refer their friends and neighbors, co-workers and family members to you. After all, you’re the expert. The best in your field. Have you ever heard a patient say, “Go see my doctor. She’s not good, but she is my doctor.” Of course not. Everyone tells you their medical professional is the best.

• Same with insurance brokers, attorneys, realtors, financial planners and copy writers who deliver both service and value to their client base. Once you’ve converted a one-time customer into a life-long client, you develop positive word of mouth (WOM) advertising, the best advertising you can get. A referral from a friend, or neighbor of one of your clients, is a prospect who'll become part of your expanding client base. Sweet.

• As your client base grows, the value of the time spent maintaining the client base grows. For example, if you have a client base of 100 happy clients who receive your monthly newsletter, you maintain 100 happy clients. When your client base reaches 1,000, the good will created by that newsletter increases 10 fold. Same newsletter. Same amount of time to prepare the newsletter, but the value of that time and that information increases.

• Organic growth occurs naturally as WOM referrals and advertising expand your client base. It’s about two things: increasing your value as an expert by providing useful information even though clients aren’t engaged in a current transaction, and on-going, regular outreach.

By taking a pro-active approach to building a client base, by building your credibility, you assume a longer-term perspective on business growth. Indeed, it may add to your workload initially – especially when you have to focus on current transactions that generate revenues now, though this doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative. It is possible to maintain your client base by outsourcing much of this maintenance work.

Hire a newsletter service. There are companies that provide insider industry news templates that can be customized so they look like they came fresh from your computer. The cost is minimal, the results…well, over the years it’s fair to assume that you’ll see a positive ROI for these efforts.

One final thought about reputation management: it takes years to build an impeccable reputation, especially within a small service area. However, those years of credibility-building can evaporate quickly if you don’t maintain the highest standards of professionalism.

One bad experience with a well-connected client can undo years of hard work to build your reputation within the community. So, if you do have a client who’s unhappy, work double-time to fix the problem – even if it costs YOU money. That client will be happy for the extra attention and will talk up your services to acquaintances.

That UNsatisfied client will also talk you up and, guaranteed, the result will be an eroding client base. You move backward.

Demonstrate expertise, authority, added value and constant care, even to those who aren't involved in making a purchase of services or goods right now.

Your credibility is the foundation for business growth. Guard it as closely as you guard your physical business assets. The fact is…

…your professional credibility is more valuable.

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