if they have been trading for a while then it could be word of mouth and repeat customers.
i sort of asked the same question in the supporters forum as we are expanding our business as well.
local advertising in papers (if it's local work you want)
I note that you are UK based as well. I guess I'd prefer local as my approach is generally personal - I like to meet clients (having said that, I've just signed up a guy in London [I'm near Leicester] completely over the phone).
Have you tried local advertising and did it work for you?
Gee… I am one of those BACKLOGGED folks. We have stopped hiring for fear of losing quality and basically raised our prices some to stem the tide of incoming requests.
How? Gee..that’s a tough one. We started in 1998..pre DOT BOMB so it has been a very,very long road. I suppose it’s a war of attrition. We’re still here…
I would look to some of those BACKLOGGED companies for some sub-work while you start getting your own clients. We have 3 teams of sub-contractors/outsourcing as well as full time staff.
Maybe wander over and say HI!
contracting out is a good option .. my summers are killers and my competitors are slow ... they have way too much to handle in the winter when i'm realy slow, so i do a little work for them ... just don't market yourself to their clients! that's a no no. I turn down most clients that aren't local and refer them to my competitors ... my competitors feed me a few clients also. PATIENCE!
Looking for work of busy companies can be a great start. I know we're always looking for designers -- and very rarely do we find someone who brings to the table what we need.
Our top designers/developers are getting more expensive as good help is hard to keep :0}
I think it is a good market for picking up some subwork. Then you can take a slower pace building your own client portfolio. When you rush, it can mean a BAD client or 2 because you're eager/desperate... not fun....
Find a niche market area - something other than the broad topic of CMS and ecommerce. Pick a market sector that you love to work with and get to know it well. Attend their trade shows and join your local business chapters. Get involved. Press the flesh and network with people in a casual environment.
For the hard sell types. Pick a company that you like to build a website for. Make sure you have some reasons other than "I'd like to build your website." Look for things that you know you could do better, issues with the site's construction or hosting. Find out who's in charge of the site then ask for 15 minutes of their time to tell them about the issues you found. Be prepared. Walk in the door with a timer in hand. Set if for 15 minutes, set it on the table, and start. When you're done, hand them a summary of your presentation on your letterhead. Before your time is up, tell the person that if they choose to implement any of the changes you brought to their attention, you'd like a chance to bid on the work.
>(we've got good software skills) and internet marketing.
Plainly "Not The Case" or you wouldn't be asking this question.
It is SIMPLE.....it is very SIMPLE.....It isn't rocket science, it isn't even a little complex.
If you can really sell on the Net you don't need me to tell you how to do it!
So, let's start again.....Try...I ain't got a clue....how do I make this work?
You are in denial, and that will never lead to success. So...let's get real, and maybe someone will point you in the right direction!
>Set if for 15 minutes, set it on the table, and start.
LORAX: have you really done this? It sounds good in writing, but seems theatrical, and could be misunderstood as grandstanding.
I run a little one-man-show and I know I'm a smallfry but I've had steady work for 3 years, all based on referrals and word of mouth. I've started to get more "picky" about the projects I accept and only now (maybe I should have had this grand idea a long time ago) have I started thinking about going after them instead of picking from who goes after me. Now that I think about it, I might have had the same problem with women. But that's a different story...
Anyway, to test the waters I sent brief emails to 20 organizations about their websites and being interested in working on them. Total failure. Not one even responded. The current webmasters probably got the mail and trashed it on sight.
But I'm tempted to try the "15 minutes of your time" phonecall thing, and see if that works. Even traditional advertising (which I don't do) only lets you pick from those who choose to come to you.
I'd be interested in any other recommendations on pro-active business getting-techniques. And PERCENTAGES please note that I don't think I know it all :) so don't be a meanie.
>> LORAX: have you really done this? It sounds good in writing, but seems theatrical, and could be misunderstood as grandstanding.
Could be but t'aint. It is theatrical but it isn't grandstanding. It's meant to make a point to a certain type of client. The message is clear - I do what I say I will within the time I told you I would. I should add that if you don't believe in the value of this then don't do it. You have to believe in the value of the point you're making. And it only works with certain clients. This isn't something you try on a small restaurant owner. It would be more likely that you'd use it when dealing with a small to mid-size corporate business owner(s). They're more likely to understand the value of your criticism and appreciate your attention to both the message and their time.