Seven Psychological Triggers That Help You Attract Better Clients

Most of us believe that every buying decision we make is rational.

We want to believe that we’re in control. And we want others to view us as smart and sensible people.

(That new iMac? Oh, yes. That was purely a business decision. LOL!)

Yes, to a large degree we are rational.

But we’re also influenced subconsciously by a number of psychological triggers. And in this article, I’m going to share seven psychological triggers that can influence prospects to want to hire you … even before they talk to you.

Trigger #1: Clarity

By clarity I mean being very clear—both on your website and in personal communications—about what you do, for whom and why you’re different.

There’s a ton of noise in the marketplace. So if you’re not clear about your positioning and your message, prospects will move on to the next potential candidate.

And they might do so without consciously knowing why they left your site.

Trigger #2: Show Them That You Get It

This is a subtle art. But you must show your prospects that you understand their challenges. You need to do that with your website, emails, promo materials and initial conversations.

Clients want to work with people who “get it.” People who understand where they’re coming from, what challenges they’re facing and how to solve these challenges.

That’s why I’m a big proponent of developing a specialty or focusing on a specific target market. It’s a lot easier to connect emotionally with prospects when your business is focused on an industry, topic or project type.

Much easier, in fact, than when you’re a generalist with just basic knowledge (or zero knowledge) about your prospects’ business drivers and daily challenges. Or when you have minimal or no experience with the type of project they need help with.

Trigger #3: A Professional and Polished Website

A professional website builds confidence in you and your ability. And everything else being equal, it can easily become a BIG factor in a prospect’s hiring decision.

And it’s not just about websites. Most of us want to shop, live and work in environments that are clean and pleasant. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to shop for groceries in a clean and well-lit grocery store. And I prefer to eat in a restaurant that’s clean and beautiful.

Fortunately, you can build a very impressive WordPress website these days for under $200. And website builders such as Squarespace and Strikingly enable you to put up a superslick website in a matter of hours.

So there’s no excuse to put it off for budget reasons.

Trigger #4: Social Proof

Each of us is naturally influenced by what others do, say and think.

If we see a lot of people sporting an iPhone 6 Plus, we might eventually be influenced to upgrade from our old iPhone 4S.

If five of our friends start raving about a cool, new restaurant in town, we will likely feel an urge to check it out.

This is why best-selling books remain best-selling books. Why top-grossing movies stay in that category for weeks. And why the newest, hottest restaurant in town gets booked solid for weeks or months in advance.

So how do you use social proof effectively as a freelance writer? There are many ways, but one of the most effective is through testimonials. Having three or four short blurbs on your website from current and past clients can work wonders with prospective clients.

After all, if so many people are raving about you, you must be good, right?

It doesn’t matter if your prospects have never heard of the clients who provided you with these testimonials. Simply having a few good ones will give you the social proof you need to move you up a level or two in the prospect’s mind.

Just this morning I booked a catamaran day trip in the Caribbean based solely on the comments and ratings I read in TripAdvisor.

I’ve never met these individual reviewers. But if 238 of them say this trip is amazing, I’m in!

Trigger #5: Success Stories

When I say success stories, I’m talking about case studies. These are brief before-and-after stories of how you helped a client solve a problem or accomplish a specific objective.

Stories are incredibly powerful. We’re hardwired to respond to them. It’s how we’ve passed down information for thousands of years. It’s how we best communicate, and it’s a great way to establish an emotional connection with a prospect.

So if you have a couple of good client successes—and if your client gives you permission to talk about your work with him or her—take some time to draft a brief document detailing how you helped that client complete their project successfully.

You don’t need anything elaborate. A one-page draft that includes the challenge or project the client needed to complete, why they hired you and what results (tangible or intangible) you delivered works great.

And try to include two or three actual quotes from the client that reinforce or prove some of your claims or statements. That adds great credibility.

Trigger #6: Become Sought After

Few factors create a stronger desire to buy something than scarcity does. And when the prospect feels that you’re the right person for the job, nothing spikes up the desire to hire you than finding out that you’re booked solid.

I’m not talking about lying or manipulating prospects in any way. I’m talking about moving your business to a point where you’re landing more and more work from better-quality clients. And because of the increased demand, you’re now booked far in advance.

Interestingly, many clients WILL be willing to wait until you’re available. And those who can’t wait may be so impressed by how in demand you are that they’ll often come back later, at which time you may have an opening in your schedule.

Plus, there’s a confidence issue in play here. When you’re booked solid and you realize that there are others who would love to work with you but can’t because of your backlog, you’ll feel better about raising your fees.

Trigger #7: Be Likable

It’s no secret that people want to do business with people they like.

You could be the very best in your field. But if you’re a jerk or abrasive, prospects will go out of their way to work with someone who’s less competent but more pleasant!

Some people are just better at being more likable than others. But for the rest of us, here’s how to become more likable:

  • First, just work on being a pleasant person. Become more genuinely interested in others.
  • Always be professional. Behave, act and communicate professionally. Don’t be too casual, but don’t be a stiff either.
  • Always be courteous and gracious. Yes, that’s just plain common sense, but I’m shocked at how few people return calls, reply to emails and do what they say they’re going to do.

Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Yet I’m surprised how many creative professionals ignore basic business etiquette.

How Do You Implement These Ideas?

Don’t try to tackle this list all at once. Start with the area (or trigger) that would give you the biggest, fastest improvement. In other words, the low-hanging fruit.

Set a goal to step up your game in that area over the next 90 days.

From there, look at the next area where you could have the biggest impact with the least amount of effort. And just keep working your way down the list until you feel you’ve addressed each of these psychological triggers.

Whether we like them or not, these triggers are very real. So you might as well harness their power to land better clients more easily.

What do you think? Can you see where you could make some immediate improvements? Are they any similar triggers I missed?