How To Attract A Blizzard Of Clients With No Budget, No Advertising And No Connections
By Johnathan Fields
First Published on www.freelanceswitch.com
United States : You can’t imagine how surprised I was to discover an incredible freelance marketing lesson while picking pumpkins with my daughter at a family farm in Pennsylvania last weekend. And, the story behind it is the key to building a giant client-base for your business in no time at all, without spending any money, placing any ads, hard-selling any people or working any connections.
So, for those without kids, here’s the deal…pumpkin picking season is big news for families in the Northeastern U.S. For four weekends in October, hordes of families with young kids swarm down upon farms for a day of pumpkin-picking, pony-rides, hay-rides, apple-cinnamon donuts, hot-cider and more.
Last weekend, we’re walking into the patch to search for the perfect pumpkin when I realize this experience is just made to be captured on film (yeah, I said film, and I still call my mp3s albums). But the only camera I have on me is the one on my friend’s cell-phone. So, I start shooting lame, washed out shots, when, over my shoulder, I hear, “hey, why don’t you go over with your daughter and I’ll take a picture and just e-mail it to you.”
I turn to see a soccer mom-ish looking woman with a drool-worthy Nikon D200 digital SLR camera in her hand. Wow, not your usual pumpkin-picking momma’s camera. So, I say, “cool, thanks a lot” and she fires off a few shots. And, as I hand her my e-mail address, I joke, “hey nice scam, bet you’re gonna try to sell me 8 X 10 glossies, now.” Her smile turned a bit uncomfortable.
“Actually,” she replied, “I am a portrait photographer, but this one’s on me.” And, she walked off with a smile and not so much as a pitch.
By the time I got home, I had the shots waiting in my inbox along with a link to her photography website. Brilliant marketing, I thought as I clicked immediately through to her website to learn more about her.
Thinking about the experience, I realized how transferable what she did was to nearly any professional looking to build a client-base without having to spend a ton of money on advertising and PR or mount any kind of aggressive sales push. In fact, the way the photographer lulled me in was so natural, it was disarming…and incredibly effective.
Question is, how can you use the “Pumpkin-Patch Marketing” strategy to build your business? First, we need to understand how it worked. Let’s look at the elements:
• Find clients
• Create a prospect list for future contact
• Build awareness of your services/product/company/brand
• Get them to buy something and turn them into evangelists
Determine who your target client is. For our photographer, it was families with young children.
Figure out what settings the people who would want your service or product frequent. For families, our photographer chose a pumpkin farm in October, which was perfect on many levels. Hundreds of local families would attend in a very compressed timeframe. The setting was very casual, making for an easy excuse for an introduction, lowering her prospect’s guard and decreasing resistance to her offer. And, everyone was in the moment-capturing mood.
Offer something completely gratuitously that needs to be delivered at a later date, then request contact information to make the delivery. Our photographer knew many people would love to remember their time picking pumpkins, but it wasn’t the easiest setting for them to carry a decent camera in. So, most people would be very open to the friendly offer. And, had I not made my wisecrack, she probably would never have revealed that she was a photographer until I got the picture in my inbox with her website link.
Once you have the contact info, respond extremely quickly with your promised gratuitous offer. This does two things. First, it keeps you fresh in their minds. And, second, by offering something free, you are priming the reciprocity pump and dramatically increasing the likelihood of them clicking through to your website and feeling obliged to reciprocate in some way, either by purchasing something or telling others and becoming an evangelist.
So, now we’ve seen how the Pumpkin-Patch Marketing technique can work to quickly build a freelance or independent photography business. And, it could have been tweaked so many different ways to really exploit the opportunity more transparently. Next year, maybe she’d actually pay the farmer a small fee to set up shop at the farm and try the more direct approach.
The trick is to find your target market where they are most comfortable, when their guard is down, then offer something very casually and gratuitously that requires future completion/delivery to a place/e-mail that must be provided at the time of offer.
This is just one example of a solo business-person who thought wildly out of the box to find a way to very quickly expose herself to a lot of prospective clients in a non-threatening, very natural and totally-free way, while also building her list for future promotions.
So, my question is—how might you be able to adapt the Pumpkin-Patch Marketing strategy to grow your client-base in your chosen field and build your list along the way?
Jonathan Fields is a giddy dad, husband, New Yorker, multi-time health and fitness industry entrepreneur, recovering S.E.C./mega-firm hedge-fund lawyer, slightly-warped, unusually-stretchy, spiritually-inclined, obsessed with creation, direct-response copywriter, small-biz and online marketing-maven, speaker, entrepreneur-coach, yoga-teacher, columnist, author, once-a-decade hook-rug savant and blogger…gone wild. You can find him playing daily at his career, marketing and entrepreneurship blog at “Jonathan Fields | Awake At The Wheel.”