How to "get more work" out of a client

How can I "get more work" out of a client?

I cringe when I hear this question from a client. 

Why? Because that's exactly the wrong question to be asking.

Yes, I understand you want -- maybe even need -- more work.

But to get it you need to offer more.

So the right question is, "What more can I offer my clients?"

People who buy creative services have told me -- in this podcast with Jamie Saunders of Neenah, and this one too with James Sommerville, VP of Global Design at Coke -- that what they desperately need are ideas! That's what grabs their attention.

They want to be approached by idea generators. 

So are you an idea generator? 

In my latest podcast interview with freelance food and wellness writer, Bryn Mooth -- a big time idea generator! -- she told me how she flew out to visit a client with the express goal of showing them what else she had to offer. 

And guess what? It worked. 

Here's how she explained it to me: 

Bryn: I’ve been working with a client and they’ve become one of my biggest clients. They are a trade organization in the food business. I’d been working with them for almost two years, never having met them. I’m in Cincinnati. They are in Delaware. We’ve had a great working relationship but we’d never actually met face to face.

I decided that I would spend the money and go visit them. One of the most important things that I did during that half day meeting was I talked to them about all of the other things that I do that I don’t currently do for them. I talked a lot about work that I did at HOW. I talked about work that I still do for HOW Conference. Things like marketing copywriting. Things like repurposing content from one platform to another. Things like writing for publication.

I had all these things that I had done in my old life that they hadn’t seen. Their response? “Oh my gosh, we need all of those things. Can you do these things for us? Can you build us a content strategy for this donor newsletter that we have that’s super important?” I was like, “Of course I can. I used to do that sort of thing all the time and I haven’t done it for you. Yes, we can absolutely do that work together.”

That idea of, “Well, gosh I used to do this sort of thing all the time. I haven’t done it for this particular client, but I know they could use this work. I just needed to tell them about it.” That has opened up a whole other business line and some pretty cool new projects.

Ilise: Two questions there then. Did you need to travel to Delaware to have that conversation? Was there a reason, conscious or unconscious, that you weren’t talking about or offering them these things that you used to do?

Bryn: Both really good questions. Did I need to travel? No. I work with a pretty large group of people at this organization and they are super busy. I think they are lean and mighty. Everybody seems to be wearing a bunch of hats and doing a bunch of things and they are harried. I didn’t think I’d really get their full attention and I wouldn’t get everybody’s time unless we actually sat at the table together.

Ilise: It was worth the money that you spent?

Bryn: It was totally worth the money that I spent to go. Your second question was, why hadn’t I told them about it? With a lot of client relationships, you get into the routine of doing work. You never have a chance to step back and say, "If you like what’s behind door number one, you’ll also love what’s behind door number two.” Now, I think having had that conversation with them, I’ve got all of these other ideas that I’m just waiting for a quiet moment when I can get the manager’s attention and pitch those to her.

We covered so many other interesting ideas in this conversation -- listen to it here.