|So your looking for a client|
Some methods for finding clients
| 6:10 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Starting a web design shop seems like it is one of the easiest things to do; easy that is until you need to find clients.
If you are like me you probably have been in web design and programming for some time and make decent money at it via your day job. Eventually your day dream of making it on your own just gets the better of you and you go get a business license, set up a website for consulting, and push a bunch of articles and press releases with the intent of attracting clients. After putting forth what seems to be an enormous effort you wait and few if any clients send you an email.
What went wrong? Your lack of a marketing plan thatís what. After reading this you should be able to find some new clients and generate some great PR for your shiny new firm.
Step One: Think Local
Putting up your plaque on the internet is easy. Too easy in fact, that why you need to find a place where you can get clients that all those seo sharks canít reach. Thatís right you need to step out into meat space and talk to people. There are many small businesses that have problems they need solved but they are not actively searching for solutions. They wait until they happen to meet the person that can solve them in person before concluding that the nagging problem is worth solving. Making sure you are in a position to meet those people is important. Join a few local business organizations, some examples would be the Lions Club, the Rotarians, and the Chamber of Commerce all of these provide you an opportunity to meet the people who have money and need professional solutions.
Step Two: Solve a problem or twoÖ for free.
Think about it. Your potential clients donít know you. You need to build goodwill, establish youíre an expert and demonstrate that you understand their problems. Find out who your potential clients are and what their problems are (you did that already in your buines plan right? ) then provide some solutions to them on your site and publish them in a paper or some other trade magazine.
Step Three: What about the kids?
Spend some time volunteering in your companyís name. The local press loves stories about businesses helping people and the community. Also many organizations that are charities are run by people who operate businesses, by helping you get to network and do some good for your community.
Step Four: Trolling for people with a need and money
List your resume on job boards, make sure its impressive and truthful and wait for people to call you. Once you get the call respond as interested in the job but tell them you have a growing business as well and ask if they would be willing to contract out the job to your company. They can save money by avoiding the fees associated with having employees and you can get some business for your company. [as an aside my resume is written so I get lots of short term offers, the type that could be outsourced by companies ]
Step Five: Spend some money silly
If you are not willing to invest in marketing your business then why should you expect money in return for your marketing efforts? Spend money to attend speeches and mixers, to go to technology events, and otherwise get to know your peers and customers. Along with this make sure you get accounting software, a phone line, and a business license, and some dedicated computers and servers just for your business. All these things are indicators to others that you are serious.
Lastly some parting advice, if your background is strictly in web development and programming, like mine was, you likely need some help. Make an effort to befriend someone who does corporate sales, these are people who know how to find potential clients and can advice you on what to do.
Best of luck to all of you.
| 7:12 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)|
An excellent post, although I wasn't certain quite how the resume -> business client process works.
| 7:31 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Great post. Thanks for writing my biography ;=)
I agree that networking groups are a key component to attracting clients. I recently relocated to a entirely new area, and I've joined one networking group so far. I already have one client and two solid leads from that group alone.
One thing I'd add. Like you, my background was in the technical aspects of web design. I have some business and marketing background, but very little face-to-face sales experience. So once some marketing efforts paid off, I still fell flat on my face in the sales process. I can't stress strongly enough how important it is to get training in this area from qualified professionals. This may mean reading some books, taking a course or both. Just be sure to avoid the ones avocating manipulative sales tactics like "overcoming objections" and "closing techniques." These rarely work with sophisticated buyers, such as the business owners and corporate decison-makers you'll be selling to, if you sell B2B.
| 8:42 pm on Nov 9, 2005 (gmt 0)|
vincevincevince its just a delicate suggestion to the person, I only pitch it if I am talking to a small company. Also an added benifit of this is that I find out what companies are doing that I might be able to compete for later, since they are usually calling in regards to new contracts.
| 9:25 am on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Any advices on networking method and practice?
I tried networking on a Business conference recently. It just doesn't sound right when Adverstising your own business came out from your own mouth...:) "Sir do you need any website? we can help you... blablabla."
It is better if someone recommend you (word of mouth), but it doesn't happen too often...
| 4:14 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Personally I try to avoid cold sales if possible for what I do. Since I do not usually make the initial site this is ok.
When faced with a room full of unknown potential clients I try to just network and chat people up. They will usually reveal what they need or what they do, which I can then use to see if I can provide thema service I offer.
| 5:39 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Yeah I definetely need to practice chatting to a stranger... (this Forum is a good start).
| 5:53 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Landing the first client(s) is so nerve-wracking ...
It is amazing how much effort is required to network effectively.
Just showing up and saying "Hi, I'm Joe and I do web design, here's my card and do you need my services?" will get back "Hi, I'm Jane, that's interesting, so does my teenage nephew, not now thank you."
Research the people you are likely to meet. Be able to bring up their interests and respond sensibly. Know their business (esp. if they already have a site - you look silly trying to sell something they've had for five years). Request the opportunity to meet later (I like over lunch - makes me feel Hollywood - as people are more open out of the office) to discuss web ROI possibilities. Come prepared to that second meeting with a rough RFQ based on your research of their industry, niche, local conditions, competition, etc. to serve as the discussion framework - be professional. When starting out RFQs are a valuable loss leader (never actual site work). What you are doing is selling yourself first and your services second. Local business go with who they know more often than not. Get out and get known.
Also provide your knowledge "free" (actually as a marketing expense detailed in your business plan - you have one right?) only to select local non-profits (be very careful and learn who-is-related-to-whom that made the existing mess and then be very diplomatic), offer free internet/email/webdesign/computer lessons to a Seniors group, write a column in a local paper - they love free columnists, etc. Be the local web person.
One warning: draw your "free" boundaries carefully. You never want to provide free or even discounted services to any business nor to any group or person outside those boundary lines. And they will try, believe me.
| 12:18 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Best move I ever done:
Join your local BNI
I actually made it to BNI membership.
Each group allows only one member of a profession to sit in the chapter.
You may be invited (free) to check it out
And decide if that group has a potential network capability that will match your search
or visit another group until you find the right chemistry.
Regarding the posted resume:
One may also do the reverse, instead of posting a resume and then wait and see
One may answer to a job offer and market his/her services and range of offerings.
| 7:11 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Another thing I thought of in passing.
Have professional forms ready. If you have contracts, invoices, and other professional paperwork it sets you apart from the "I wannabe" crowd and says you are a professional.
Business cards too, some people really are impressed by a card.
| 7:32 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
Do not forget using "We" instead of I (Even if you are a one man/woman show)
if your phone has a split messages capability
For Administration press 1
for web management press 2
you got the idea ... :)
| 7:37 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
I think that depends on what you do.
I only use the "we" in print when writing about my company. Since I am a consultant though people don't expect me to have a team all the time.
| 9:07 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)|
|Just showing up and saying "Hi, I'm Joe and I do web design, here's my card and do you need my services?" will get back "Hi, I'm Jane, that's interesting, so does my teenage nephew, not now thank you." |
Yeah, that approach rarely works...
An often neglected aspect to networking is looking for any and all opportunities to help people, even if it's outside your core. For example, I met someone who was looking to get her book published, so I hooked her up with someone I though could help. Finding ways to connect others with customers, vendors, suppliers or talent is an excellent way to become a "valued supplier" yourself, or else get the favor reciprocated by having these others begin to recommend you and refer business to you.