Have you ever seen the 1981 cult-classic “Escape From New York”? (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1006717_escape_from_new_york)
Staring Kurt Russel as Snake Plissken, Snake is sent into New York (now a maximum security prison) to rescue the president.
I was watching this movie last night (you now know my not-so-secret love of Dystopian Action Movies) and thinking about freelancing.
Often times, as freelancers or consultants, we’re faced with an impossible task, like Snake: Escaping From The Valley of Feast and Famine.
When times are good, we don’t market ourselves. And that means when the good times end, our pipeline is dry and the bad times start.
And when times are bad? Well, times are bad. Dystopian future science-fiction action film bad. Why? It comes down to one simple fact: if we aren’t marketing ourselves and our business, our supply of prospects and leads dries up.
The ordinary advice is to market more and, don’t get me wrong, as a marketer and as a consultant who works with other consultants on optimizing their marketing to get more clients I am a big proponent of marketing. But if you need another project this month, most marketing takes too long to fire up:
- Blogging and content marketing? Takes too long. This is a great way to build up a body of work that positions you as an authority, but if you’re looking for a project this month, writing an article won’t get you that project.
- Paid ads? Takes too long. Unless you’re already familiar with running paid advertising campaigns, you’re going to be learning a new skill and building a new part of your funnel and working to convert visitors into subscribers into prospects into leads into clients and projects.
- Email marketing? Takes too long. Yes, if you have an email list, you can generate thousands of dollars per month in consulting revenue from it. But not if you’re just getting started with email marketing. Or your list is cold. Or you have a long sales process.
- Cold Outreach? Takes too long. You need a large number of prospects or good personalization to make this work and while this can be a great strategy for building your pipeline over time, alas, it is not a strategy I can recommend if you need to get a project immediately.
So, what’s left? If you’re trapped in The Valley of Feast and Famine, how can you pull a Snake Plissken? There’s one simple strategy that you can use. It can quickly fill up your pipeline with projects:
Follow-up with past clients.
Send ’em a short email that says “Hey! How’s business? Is there anything I can do to help you grow?”
When you revisit your former clients and touch base with them, you remind them that you’re there. If they have a need, you’re showing up at the right time to help solve that need.
Once you start doing this — following up with past clients — a magic thing often happens. You find yourself so busy with client work that you almost can’t keep up.
All it takes is a simple email.
Hope business has been going well for you. I’m curious, is there anything I could do to help you grow? Feel free to give me a call at #NUMBER. I’m always happy to chat.
If you copy and paste that email, filling in the necessary bits, and send it to a few past clients, something good will start to happen for you and your business: people and projects will start to come out of the woodwork.
All it takes to escape The Valley of Feast and Famine? Sending a quick email to your past clients.
Now, the above template is a ‘minimum viable’ email for this (and there are loads of improvements you could make, a number of which are detailed in The Outreach Blueprint). But even just applying this tiny bit of follow-up effort — sending a single follow-up email — can produce a crazy return for you and your business.
Here’s my challenge to you: pick three (or more!) past clients that you’ve worked with in the last year and send them the above template (with your customizations). Then, email me and let me know that you did this and took acton. I want to hear from you.