An intro packet is a helpful way to onboard clients and boost your freelance success. It’s a good way to make a great first impression by answering questions, setting expectations and filtering clients, which can mean better projects.
A thorough onboarding process is more efficient for you and more appealing for clients—and it starts with an intro packet. Imagine you’re a potential client asking about a project. What would you prefer to receive as a first step?
- 1. A short email with few details that requires follow up and then a back-and-forth exchange.
- 2. Or a thorough, professional document that answers most of your questions.
That’s how an intro packet can make an awesome first impression:
What Is an Intro Packet?
An intro packet is a collection of introductory information you send to a potential client when they express interest in your services. It’s designed to be sent before you start a project, before you sign a contract, and before you even have an initial meeting. It outlines the big picture view of working with you and answers a lot of the basic questions clients ask (and you spend a lot of time answering).
A successful intro packet will help determine if you and a client will be a good fit.
Client Onboarding Explained
An intro packet should be one of the first steps in your client onboarding process:
- 1. Initial client inquiry: A client sends you an email or fills out a form on your website expressing interest in working with you and asking for more info.
- 2. Intro packet: The first thing you do in response is send them a detailed overview of what it’s like to work with you. This should answer all the basic questions and set up next steps.
- 3. Client meeting: The intro packet should lead into a client consultation meeting where you determine the scope of their needs and get enough information to make a proposal.
- 4. Proposal & contract: A freelance proposal should lay out the aims of the project and costs, while a contract should have all the specific definitions and expectations.
- 5. Welcome packet: This is an opportunity to give a client a thorough overview of how the project will go and begin specific tasks such as collecting content, sharing logins, and starting project management systems.
- 6. Project: And then you’re diving into the project itself.
This kind of clear process can help you weed out bad clients and better retain good clients. If you need more help with getting clients started, Jennifer Bourn offers a complete and detailed overview of how you can implement a new client onboarding process and set expectations.
How Intro Packets are Different Than Welcome Packets
An intro packet gives basic details about working with you—payment policies, time frames, how you work, etc. It’s answering those initial questions a client needs to know before they start a project with you.
A welcome packet is for the client who has already agreed to work with you. They’ve signed a contract and you’re starting the project. The welcome packet is about getting the project moving—initial payment, deadlines, logins, how to deliver content, etc.
- Scope: An intro packet focuses on the big picture, while a welcome packet focuses on the details.
- Before vs. After: An intro packet is sent before a contract is signed, while a welcome packet is sent after.
- Purpose: An intro packet helps you land a client, while a welcome packet helps you complete the project.
Why Use an Intro Packet?
Which is a good transition to talking about why you should use an intro packet: It’s good marketing.
Benefits of an Intro Packet
This introductory packet can do a lot of things to help you:
- Sets expectations: Lets clients know what to expect, which can calm fears or anxiety and make them more confident in your ability.
- Saves time: Explaining your process in an organized, consistent approach makes things smoother and faster for both you and your client.
- Reinforces your brand and messaging: As much as you know your own brand and message, it’s easy to send off a quick email to a potential client that covers business details but lacks your brand voice.
- Good first impression: Shows that you’re organized, thorough, and professional.
- Self-screening: Clients can see all your policies and how you work right from the start, and if there are red flags they can choose not to work with you, which saves you tons of time and hassle. (And if a client is a good fit, your intro packet will only reinforce that feeling.)
All of the above will help you land and keep clients, and that’s important.
Getting new clients is a lot of work. According to this guide on how to start freelancing successfully, it actually costs five times more to get a new client than to simply keep a client you already have. The best way to retain clients is to properly set expectations and then meet (or exceed) them.
An intro packet can help you do that by making sure you’re not wasting your time on bad clients. It can also help by impressing the good clients. They’ll like your organization and thoroughness. You’re setting a high bar from the beginning, and that’s going to make a strong impression that will bring them back.
All of this will help improve your retention rate, which will increase your profitability. A 5% reduction in customer defection rate can increase your profitability by 25-125%.
How to Create an Intro Packet
OK, this intro packet sounds like a good idea. How do you actually create one? Glad you asked. We did a Streamline Client Screening and Onboarding With an Intro Packet webinar with business coach Erin Flynn that covers the how-to basics of intro packets. In this webinar, she offers a workbook with examples you can copy and paste. Definitely check that out, but we’ll give a quick overview below.
The Mechanics of Intro Packets
First of all, the idea here is to create a consistent, thorough document you can send to clients without recreating it every time. An intro packet should be a polished document that’s generic enough to work for all your projects.
Even if your projects vary, it’s likely your process and policies are the same. You should try to make your intro packet generic enough that it can work for all variations.
However, if you offer multiple services that are different enough or you serve distinct audiences, then you might need to create multiple intro packets. But there are still probably similarities, so you can have a lot of overlap between the packets.
Intro Packet Contents
Here’s what an intro packet should include:
- Cover and title: This is a marketing piece, so make sure both the cover and the title set the tone. They should match your branding.
- Introduction: Theoretically they know who you are and what you do, but this is a good place to reiterate and reinforce your brand.
- Office hours and contact info: Set some boundaries right away. Let clients know when and how they can contact you. This will give peace of mind to both of you.
- What’s included: Clearly explain what end product you’ll deliver to the client, list any features you include in all your projects, detail the calls and/or meetings that are part of the project, and finally explain what’s definitely not included. It should be crystal clear what you do and what you don’t do.
- What you need from the client: Many projects end up delayed while you wait on a client to deliver their content. So make it clear up front what you’ll need. This doesn’t have to be detailed with methods and deadlines, but if you need images and written content before you can start, let the client know up front.
- Process and timeline: Explain your process and a general timeline. The timeline will be a reality check for clients (“You can’t do it next week?”), and a clear process will reinforce your professionalism.
- Payments: Be clear about your payment policies. If a client has a problem paying half up front to secure a spot in your project pipeline, then that’s probably a deal breaker.
- FAQ: This is a good place to add any extra details or random things that come up.
- Wrap up: Thank your potential client, encourage them to ask questions, and let them know what the next step is.
While an intro packet is a good way for clients to learn more about you and decide if they want to work with you, it also helps you decide if you want to work with them. Giving potential clients a next step is a good test to see if they’ll follow directions.
Start Creating Your Intro Packet Today
Hopefully, it’s clear how an intro packet can boost your business. Now it’s time to actually create one. Remember that you don’t have to start from scratch. Use the intro packet workbook examples Erin Flynn shared in the recent webinar: Streamling Client Screening and Onboarding with an Intro Packet. You can literally copy and paste the example text and then tweak the language and processes to fit your business.
Erin also has some more great resources including her Client Onboarding Bundle Deal. It’s a $258 value for just $97!
- Client Onboarding Ebook
- Intro Packet Workshop
- Welcome Packet Workshop
- Proposal Template