First off, it really depends on your offering. If you specialize in one-time projects, retainers are harder to make a reality. But if you offer services like social media marketing or bookkeeping, you're golden to create relationships with clients who are happily retainers.
So how do you lock down retainer clients? How do you convince someone to hop on with you for a month to month agreement? Here’s my two cents:
Don’t shrug off a project.
More often than not, projects are the first step in your client’s journey to agreeing to a retainer. And let's be clear on something: a client choosing to become a retainer is a huge choice. So what does their decision-making journey look like? More often than not, before my clients become retainers, they're project clients first. If they're happy with the work I did on the project, and we have great chemistry, then they're happy to trust me with a month to month deal.
Build trust and rapport.
This should go without saying… you’re more likely to get a commitment out of someone if they trust you. Like a romantic relationship, jumping on a retainer with you is like your client saying they want to “go steady” or “be exclusive” with you for the services you provide.
Remember what it was like to go from romantic interest to romantic partner with someone? You can’t just ask for that straight out of the gate!
Confidently and effectively prove your worth.
The quality has to be there if a client is going to join you for an extended agreement of work. If you’re big talk but can’t deliver, the client will see right through you and decided they can get better quality help elsewhere.
Provide consistent value, and your retainer clients will come.
Remind them of their current pain, and how you can take it away.
There’s nothing that makes my clients take a big sigh of relief more than when I say, “You know all that social media stuff you don’t get around to, can’t stop thinking about and feel guilty for not going? I can take ALL of it off your plate. Leave it to me.” Your services need to provide value of some sort, and that needs to be a solid investment if you’re looking for someone to agree for a retainer. You’ll have to prove yourself—but can you really argue with that?
Have packages at the ready.
When a client is thinking of working with you, they’ll usually ask this question: “How much can I expect to pay?” You can have a ballpark number to throw out, or you can have a package that lays out how much X, Y and Z costs exactly. For example, two social media profiles with 3 posts per week, along with community management and monthly data analytics will cost $X.
If clients know what to expect each month as far as cost, and trust in your worth, you're well on your way to a more predictable and comfortable income. Value quality and consistency over all else, protect your reputation with your life, and give your clients services they can trust.
What's holding you back from reaching the secure income you're dreaming of?
Gillian Sisley is a social media-savvy strategist hell-bent on engaging with people on a real, human level.
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