Hey, we’re going fishing today!

I’m just kidding. We’re not actually going fishing, but we are going to use an analogy today to help you find better clients. 

What body of water are you fishing for new clients in? I’m going to break it down for you, and keep it simple. So without further ado, let’s just go ahead and roll right into it.

Ponds, Lakes, and Oceans

3 Different Buyer Types and Finding Graphic Design ClientsToday, we’re were talking about finding better clients and finding people that can help you grow your business. If you’re creative, whether you’re a marketer, web designer, or anybody in the creative space, I’m here to help you do that. 

The truth is, a lot of you are fishing in the wrong bodies of water. I want to help you realize that and make a change for your business.

1. The Pond

Now, if you’re learning to fish, it’s not a bad idea to start in a pond. You’ll be catching guppies and minnows. A pond is a good place to get some practice and fail a few times — because you are going to fail along your journey, and it’s better to fail in a small body of water than a big one. 

In a pond, like I said, you’re going to catch minnows and guppies. That is, the smaller clients. In the business world, that means the companies that are doing $0-$1 million.

Those companies will also have between 0-25 employees. Their marketing budgets will be small — around $1,500 or less.

Setting Expectations

Setting expectations with those small companies is super important. What kind of ROI are they expecting on a $1,500-per-month budget? Would they be satisfied with $500 on top of their investment? Do they want to double their money? What about tripling it? 

Understanding their expectations upfront is really important for a long-term relationship. So, make sure you’re in the right places and able to attract those clients starting off.

Then, as you gain some experience, you start to prove yourself with testimonials and referrals. You can start to fish in some different places. Maybe you’re fishing in the pond 5 days a week, then in the lake every Monday. Now that you’ve proved yourself and gained more confidence, you can take a diversified approach.

Direct Deals

It’s important to remember that with those smaller businesses, the Mom-and-Pop shops, you won’t have to deal with a gatekeeper. The business owner typically is the gatekeeper. That means you can get to the business owner directly via email, Facebook, etc. 

You can even meet with a business owner face-to-face. That’s a great opportunity to build a relationship with them — because they may have some connections in the lake or the ocean. You should never discount those small clients.

Starting small is not a bad thing. But as you grow, you want to be able to move along. Just remember, when you’re fishing in the pond, to set the right expectations. Communicate and find out what they’re looking for. If you don’t set those expectations upfront, you could lose that client within 30 days.

2. The Lake

3 Different Buyer Types and Finding Graphic Design ClientsNow, let’s talk about fishing in the lake. This is where my business is. We have a lot of lake clients, and we’re slowly moving into the ocean. 

In the lake, you’re going to start to see bigger fish: bass, trout, catfish, etc. These are the companies doing between $1-$20 million in sales. They have 25+ employees.

Most importantly, their marketing budgets are starting to increase — up to the $2,500 – $50,000 range. Those companies might be law firms, chiropractors, construction, and other things.

The Gatekeepers

The downside to fishing for those bigger clients is that they have gatekeepers. Receptionists, assistants, and other gatekeepers in front of the business owner. 

So, you’re going to have to make friends with that gatekeeper. Build a relationship with them. Don’t just go over their head; build a relationship and help them out. If you can bring an opportunity to them, which they can bring to their boss in turn, they will look good and feel good. They’re contributing to their company.

You can approach that by giving the gatekeeper a gift card, giving them some education, and talking with them. I see a lot of people struggling with that, but it’s so important. Respect the gatekeeper! They are there for a reason.

The 2-to-4-Call Close

Another important factor in this arena is the 2-to-4-call close. Because you’re shooting for those larger budgets, the companies are going to take more time to make a decision. It will take at least 2 to 4 calls before you close. 

First, you’re going to have to explain your program and build a connection with them. Then you’re going to give them a data assessment and tell them what it’s going to take. From there, you can move onto the next steps: sit down and have conversations about how to move forward.

It just takes a little more time to nurture that relationship and to get the sale. Be ready to commit to 2 weeks, a month, or even 90 days for the deal to happen.

Multiple Decision-Makers

The next challenge is that these companies have multiple decision-makers. It’s not just a husband-and-wife team anymore. Multiple people in the company are involved in making those big decisions. 

They’re also going to have bigger expectations. They want to get things done and see results quickly because they’re putting in more money.

So, if you’re going after those clients, you need to have a bigger team that’s prepared to handle their expectations. This is something I have had to learn personally, as I’ve been dealing with companies in this range.

3. The Ocean

3 Different Buyer Types and Finding Graphic Design ClientsFinally, let’s move on to the ocean. This is the area I’m moving into now: companies that are bringing in $20-$100 million or more. 

These are huge companies with massive teams and a board of directors. They take a long, long time to make decisions. They have 50+ employees and large marketing budgets, over $50,000. Some companies spend $200,000+ on their marketing every month.

So, these fish have more meat on the bone, but it takes a lot longer to catch them. There’s a lot of work involved; you’ll need to have a pretty big team to handle it. 

Fishing in the ocean is something you want to build up to over time, once you’ve gained more skills and proved yourself through great testimonials. This is not something you just come right out and do.

Multiple Gatekeepers

With these companies, you’ll have multiple gatekeepers. A receptionist, then an assistant, then a board of directors, and so on. 

You have to go through multiple tiers to make a deal. Because of that, these sales cycles can take up to 6 months. I’ve heard of some people taking a year to close the deal.

The Right Timing

You also need to consider the time of year when you approach these companies. 

October, November, and December, when they’re in meetings and making decisions for the beginning of the year, is the ideal time. That’s when they’re setting their marketing budget. You want to get to them before they make those final decisions. 

You’re going to have a different contact method with bigger companies, because you’re working with multiple people. Typically, the contact structure is more email-driven — back-and-forth, nurturing that relationship over a period of time. The sales cycle will be longer, but it’s worth it if you can manage it.

Where Are You Fishing?

3 Different Buyer Types and Finding Graphic Design ClientsIn a nutshell, that’s what I wanted to cover today. But there are a couple more things I still want to point out. 

First, what bait are you using? If you’re fishing in the pond and trying to sell something over $5,000, you’re not going to catch any clients. They can’t afford that. Make sure you’re using lower-level offers to attract those smaller clients.

In the lake, on the other hand, you need some more advanced funnels. There are more complicated strategies for building relationships and driving sales. You may need to bring people in to help you out.

Second — you have to watch out for bottom feeders. There are bottom feeders in every body of water: people who want everything done yesterday, who don’t value your time or appreciate your talent. People who will take advantage of you. Watch out for those red flags, and avoid catching a bottom feeder.

I know it’s a lot of information, but I hope this really helps you. Thank you so much for tuning in. Let’s keep looking up!