Using the New Year to Get, Keep, and Reclaim Clients

How do you make sure that your old clients remember you? Maybe you have some clients that you discussed potential projects with and then they sent the work elsewhere, or a client you worked with and never heard from again.

Early in my freelancing career I used to get frustrated because I had all these people on my contact list that I wanted to ask if they had work for me, but I couldn’t figure out how to approach them without sounding like I was spamming them, or I was desperate for work. Then it was December, and I was sitting there sending new year greetings to all my friends when *ping*, the light bulb went on! I could send all these people a new year greeting!! It’s the polite thing to do, right? And everyone is sending new year greetings to everyone else, so it won’t be construed as spamming.

So I sat down and wrote several message templates, one for current clients, one for old clients, and one for potential clients that I never really got a chance to work with. Guess what happened? Each and every one of these people sent back a new year greeting, AND all but one of them actually sent me work in the new year! I am still working with some of them to this day, and every end of year I do the same thing, I send a new year greeting to all my present, past, and potential clients, and it always works well in my favor.

Here are some pointers to help you make this work for you:

  • Keep a contact list of all your clients and anyone you talk to that is a potential client. I have found that Excel works well for me because then I can make notes about each person and their business and what we discussed.
  • Make your new year greeting brief and to the point, and formal but cordial. Make it professional but make sure you come across as friendly. Avoid loud and flashy animations and colors, as these can be off-putting to people. Remember the goal of this email is to re-initiate contact with a potential client and you want to be remembered as a professional.
  • Mention, again briefly, who you are. This is especially true for an old client or a potential client. You could say something like:

    Hi, my name is Peter Smith. we spoke briefly earlier this year about your company’s needs for photography services. I hope that you have had a good year, and that your magazine launched successfully, and would like to wish you success and best wishes in the coming year for you and your business….”

    In just a few words you have mentioned who you are and shown interest in their business, which is always a selling point. Remember you want to be brief but memorable.

  • End the email with a mention that your services remain available. Make sure that you let present clients know that it’s been a pleasure to work with them, and old clients that you look forward to working with them again, and for potential clients that your services remain available and you would welcome the opportunity to work with them. The idea is to plant the seed and to remind them that you exist.
  • Make sure that you have your contact information at the end of this email and if you have a website, add your link in there too.

I thought of giving you a template to work with, but then I think you need to make it with your own voice and communication style, so that it comes across as being authentic. If you keep the pointers above in mind, you may find yourself with some new clients for the new year.

Here’s to your prosperity and productivity in your freelancing in 2008!

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