For communications freelancers, the first few days and weeks with a new client can set the tone for the entire engagement. To make sure you get started on the right foot, here are 10 tips for kicking off a successful client relationship.
1. Set up the foundation quickly
Get the account foundation set up quickly, even if it means working extra hours at the beginning. For example, building media lists, curating top search words, and researching influencers are time consuming tasks, but the faster you have the account up and running, the faster you’ll start achieving results. If you’re on retainer, chalk up the extra hours to the cost of winning and securing new business. You’ll make up the difference once the account is running smoothly.
2. Quickly score two major wins
Aim to do this within the first 10 days, if not sooner. A strong start makes your client look great for choosing you. It also goes a long way in making a memorable first impression after you’ve won the business, while getting you on the radar with decision makers outside your day-to-day contacts.
3. Lock in a time for weekly status calls
Set up a standing weekly status call within the first week of signing the contract. Before the first meeting, test your service provider to make sure the dial in and/or web conferencing capabilities will go off without a hitch.
When sending out the meeting invitation, break up long dial in numbers and passcodes so they’re easier to read. This limits delayed meeting start times and frustration.
4. Get a product demo and company briefing
Get a demo and/or full briefing on the client’s business and its offerings and come prepared to those meetings with insightful questions about strengths, weaknesses, and competitive differentiators.
5. Meet with stakeholders
Outside of your day-to-day contact(s), set up 10 to 15 minute introductory meetings with key stakeholders and contacts you’ll be working with regularly to learn about their roles and expectations for communications.
6. Be transparent in all your activities
The best way to do this is by using a shared Google Sheet or the client’s intranet to show the status of all communications activities. This is also a great way to create a standing agenda for each status call.
7. Ask how the client communicates internally
Find out how the company communicates internally and if there’s a way for you to share results. For example, if there’s a weekly sales newsletter, executive note, or marketing update, inquire about contributing to it with the goal of making your client look good.
8. Send monthly invoices and status reports after hours
9. Limit your talk about other work
The client you’re currently engaging should always feel like they’re your number one priority.
10. Get to know the other agencies
Connect with any other agencies or freelancers supporting the client. This way, you can ensure consistent and integrated messaging across all channels.
Of course, you’ll make adjustments to your processes based on the ebb and flow of work and the client’s requirements. But once you have a solid foundation in place, the account will run more smoothly, and you’ll be on a faster path to profitability.