Suzanne Wesley was in a tight spot five years ago.
She had just lost her job and had to find a way to drum up freelance business fast.
But rather than trying the same methods other freelancers typically use (put up a website and do some cold calling, networking and email prospecting) she decided to try something different.
She designed, printed and mailed a square-shaped brochure to more than 100 prospects.
And it worked!
In this interview, Suzanne explains why she believes this strategy worked so well ... and why she's still getting leads from that printed piece she mailed out five years ago.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Tell us about yourself
Suzanne works as a freelance marketing assistant for startups, nonprofits and larger businesses. She does both graphic design and copywriting for clients, although she tends to do more graphic design.
How important has it been for you to have both skill sets?
Some projects start with just graphic design, and then she ends up advising clients on how they can improve their copy. Having both skills has helped bolster her income.
How did you get into freelancing?
Suzanne did a little bit of freelancing on the side when working full time. She had looked into freelance work because of the needs of her young children. In 2009, she was laid off from her full time job and had to quickly put together her portfolio and find clients.
She received a severance package when laid off, and she used this as a financial cushion to start her business. It would have taken her much longer to transition to freelance work if she had had to accumulate that cushion through savings.
Talk about what you did to get clients when starting out
Suzanne didn’t have a portfolio from her full time job. So instead, she created a 5”x5” print brochure with attached business card.
She ordered 250 of the brochures and initially started mailing them in batches of 20. Once work started coming in, she continued to send a few more each week. She included a personal message with each brochure.
Whom did you send this to?
She started by sending the brochure to people she’d worked with, such as colleagues, managers and directors. Later, she sent the brochure to vendors she’d worked with, such as caterers, printers and trade show people.
What were your results?
Suzanne paid around $400 for 250 copies of the brochure. She started mailing them out in June and still managed to make over $10,000 that year. The next year, she more than doubled that—all while also caring for her two young children.
Did you land most of your initial clients as a result of this piece?
During the first two years of her business, around 77-percent of her clients came from the brochure.
What other elements of this piece do you think made a difference?
Suzanne focused the brochure on the needs of potential clients. It wasn’t all about her. On the back of the brochure, she listed the benefits of working with a freelancer, and this made some clients think about using a freelancer who may not have considered it before.
In her personal message, she reminded prospects who she was, what she knew about their business and what she could do for them. She also suggested they pass the brochure along if they knew anyone who might need her services.
Her contacts did pass it along. Last summer, she had two referrals from people who’d kept her brochure.
Name a couple things you’d do differently next time
She included her pricing, and she wouldn’t do that again. Today, she bases her pricing on what clients need and what they already have on hand.
Normally, she would have a website in place before sending out a brochure. She didn’t have that the first time because she had to start her business so quickly.
She would stay with the same shape and size of brochure but would include more samples and less text. She would also make it full color and include more white space.
Where can listeners learn more about you?
Suzanne’s website: http://www.suzannewesley.com