exposure + free sample + good letter + phone call = new client ?
In November 2009, I went to my first Société française des traducteurs seminar: Réussir son implantation et se constituer une clientèle.
The afternoon session covered how to get work. Chris Durban, author of The Prosperous Translator, talked about reaching out to direct clients.
How do you get a good direct client? Chris suggested offering a short free sample to show carefully selected prospects what you’re made of.
Take a few paragraphs of poorly translated text, fix it up, send it off by snail mail, and include a short and powerful letter in the client’s native language. Or take some copy which has not yet been translated and provide the client with your target-language version.
I gave it a shot and got some good (but not excellent) results. I rewrote a few paragraphs of one company’s homepage; they later asked me to do two translations for them. Another client had a bilingual website on which a few articles were missing in English. I translated something hot off the press, free of charge, and this led to a good-sized order.
Other prospects did not even acknowledge my work. Some thanked me, but said they could not afford translation services.
Almost a year later, I’d like to try this free trial offer experiment again. This time, in a more focused and strategic manner.
This is how I am going about it.
1. Get out of the house and shake some hands
Last month, I went to E-Commerce Paris 2010 to see what French-speaking Internet workers were up to. I introduced myself to a number of exhibitors, but did not make a lasting impression on anyone.
I did fill my bag up with brochures, business cards, pens (yes!) and booklets. And a very heavy exhibition directory. Two sections in the directory merit further study: Experts 2.0 and Agences Contenu.
2. Choose my prospects wisely
I’m going through the websites of a few Paris-based companies. Tweeters are being followed. LinkedIn profiles are being been clicked on. Blogs are getting bookmarked.
3. Don’t be a stranger
My chances of scoring some work will be greater if my potential clients somehow hear of me before getting my sample. Perhaps from Twitter or LinkedIn groups.
Hmmm… should I get a Facebook account for business use and starting showing up on their pages? I’d probably learn a lot, find out when they hold events, and could contribute to the discussions.
Choose three or four paragraphs to be beautifully translated. Make every word count.
5. Write a really good letter
Make it concise and pleasant. Be helpful. Ask for an appointment. Let the person know I plan to call. Have a francophone check the letter over.
That one envelope should have three papers inside: short cover letter, French text and English translation. This client-friendly pitch will let him instantly compare the two versions.
6. Follow-up by phone (yikes!)
The hard part! I don’t write or speak beautiful French. But staying in touch is essential and I’m going to force myself to pick up the phone. The client might not be interested at this time, but may need a translation in the future. A pleasant phone call can leave a good impression.
I’ll let you in two months how things worked out. Has anyone else ever offered a free sample translation?