I often listen to audiobooks through Audible on my phone when walking the dog, exercising or driving in the car. I recently started listening to the “80/20 Sales and Marketing” by Perry Marshall. Already in the introduction, I heard the message “It is easier to grow by selling more to your existing customers than to find new customers” and “Your best new customer is your existing customer.”
But first, what is the 80/20 principle for freelance translators?
The 80/20 rule is also called the Pareto principle and it means that roughly 80 percent of the effects of anything you do come from 20 percent of the causes. So, 80 percent of your sales are likely generated by about 20 percent of the services you offer.
What does this mean for us as freelance translators?
First of all, the fastest and cheapest way to increase your revenue is to focus on providing the best possible service to your current translation clients and trying to grow your service offering or the amount of work you do with them. This is much more efficient than focusing on finding new clients. Now, I do not mean that you should not try to find new clients, but that requires more effort for lower results. New clients may generate 20% of your revenue, whereas 80% comes from your existing clients.
Don’t be afraid to be selective when it comes to your current customers either. 20% of your current customers are probably generating 80% of your income. Some of your customers might be needy and take up much more of your time but generate much less income. They may have difficult project management systems or procedures, focusing on price negotiation etc. If some of these “needy” customers don’t significantly contribute financially to your business, you should not be afraid to make their customer service needs a lower priority.
Focus on the 20% of your customers that bring 80% of your income
You probably have some clients that use your services regularly and spend the most money on your services. You likely also have a lot of very irregular customers who use your services less often. Identify the regular customers and get to know them. The stronger you make your relationship with them, the more likely they are to continue using your services in the face of competition, plus refer you to new customers.
If your most profitable customers come to you with a special need, don’t hesitate to go the extra mile to help them out. Focus on matching 80% of your customer service effort to the customers who provide 80% of your business.
But do not forget the 80%
It is of course important to not completely ignore the remaining 80% that generate the smaller share of your revenue, since these are still generating some profit for your business. Remember that 2/3 of customers who leave do so because they felt neglected or unappreciated, or for translation services, you did not follow instructions and ha high quality translation, or did not respond to the client quickly enough.
So what can you do to increase the revenue with your existing clients?
- Find your most profitable customers and focus on going the extra mile with them, send thank you notes, meet them in person if possible and try to develop a close relationship with them.
- Focus on marketing your most profitable services, whether this is translation or interpreting as opposed to editing or transcription. Find out which of your services are the most profitable and focus on marketing these.
- Focus on marketing your services to your existing clients and try to get them to either use you more often, use more of your services, or refer you to others.
- Do not hesitate to let your least profitable customers go, so you can spend more time on the more profitable ones.
- Do not forget the 80% of your customers completely. Even if you focus your efforts on your most profitable clients and services, you cannot completely ignore the rest of your customers or services, but your major efforts should not be spent here. Who knows? Some of these less profitable customers may become one of your most profitable ones later on.
For more information and help to create a marketing plan and get your year started right, check out the Quick Start Guide – 8 steps to a marketing plan for translators.