Archive for October, 2009

Promoting yourself to direct clients

October 23, 2009

“I’d like to look for direct clients but I can see how
sending a CV wouldn’t be appropriate. What kind of
“promotional material” should I send? In what format? How
should I follow up on it?”

There’s no reason not to send a CV, provided you feel the client will understand it. Agencies will know what the letters after your name mean, direct clients might not; on the other hand ex-employers may be recognisable names to direct clients. I wouldn’t name clients without their permission.

The answer, as so often, is “it depends” – depends on the type of customer and how you want to come across. If you are dealing with small manufacturing businesses you have identified as exporters, the kind of postcard or flyer you get through the door from small tradesmen may work. When accountants or solicitors promote themselves, on the other hand, they often write fairly long letters, so you can do the same thing with them – the “must” I think is heavy, expensive notepaper so that you look like a serious professional.

In other words, use whatever you think will make your target client feel you are “their kind of people”: some people like to read the details, others are happy just to register the basic facts.

I would recommend a high-end language style, though, including with smaller businesses. But if you have, say, 20 small businesses to contact it might be a good idea to test what works best, and send a flashy “Are you in despair talking to foreign customers? Don’t know where to turn? I am the solution to all your problems” to ten of them and a more “professional” “I have X to offer and wondered if you ever had need of such services; I have been working successfully in field Y for Z years” communication to the other ten.

A properly produced leaflet is also possible, and not that expensive these days.

How about a simple letter or email with a reference to your website?

Last 2 questions

October 16, 2009

Two questions remained about direct clients:

What prices could I realistically charge?

What are the other benefits?

As to the first, it should probably be dealt with in detail at the meeting in Edinburgh, but my rule of thumb is this: if I reckon my rate to agencies is about standard, then I would double that rate and deduct a bit (according to gut feel) for direct clients. Rationale: you are delivering most of what an agency does, but not quite all because you are not a one-stop shop, the agency may (should) proof read your work normally etc. etc. An agency that is doing all the typesetting and layout will charge a lot more than double for the end product, I should think.

Other benefits – everyone will have his or her own list. However, you have more likelihood of being able to ask questions properly and get real feedback and discussion, which means you know more, feel more competent and probably contribute more to the client as well as getting more back. It depends on whether you are working for a smallish business and are their non-resident expert, or whether you are one of several freelancers working with their translation department, of course.
It’s the same old story: the benefits are basically the same as with a good translation company, I suppose, but maybe the ratio of good ‘uns to bad ‘uns is higher with the direct clients? Discuss!