|Trouble landing clients|
I was hired by a company to launch their web design program. Part of my job is to find new web design clients. I thought it would be a breeze, considering so many people need/want websites, however it hasn't been going too well.
I even purchased "The Web Design Business Kit" by Brenden Sinclair (sitepoint.com), and have been using the contracts / proposals from there. I've also tried word of mouth, etc. I don't think prices are too high, but maybe that is the problem.
Any suggestions / thoughts on how to gain more business? Also any ideas on why we generally never hear back from the client after pitching our proposal?
- Disgruntled Web Designer / Department Director
Client may look for a strong portfolio amongst other things.
Welcome aboard inbetweendays, this post may seem a little rough, but it's not meant to be. Think about a few things.
Everyone and his/her brother's cousin's nephew is a web designer these days. They do it for next to nothing or for free, and being a friend or relative, obviously is a web genius and don't hold a candle over the salesman knocking at their door who wants something.
Add to that, you are competing against legitimate professionals who have been hacking away at this stuff since the 90's and have forgotten more about web development than many newcomers will ever know (myself included, though I don't know if I wear the "professional" label too well. :-) )
So here's the million dollar question: what does your firm have to offer that all these others don't?
That, I think, is the bottom line to success in anything you do Internet, as in life. Find out what sets you apart, put that up front in your sales pitch, and they will listen.
|Any suggestions / thoughts on how to gain more business? Also any ideas on why we generally never hear back from the client after pitching our proposal? |
Go local.... Get local clients/businesses. I know several web development companies in my general area, and am sorry to say if I didn't know about them from "offline" advertising I would never know about them. Their sites don't come up for any terms and neither do their clients, but they have some very high dollar clients. I am sure they do very, very well.
So, when building out your own site...go local at first (local can be city or state etc.). Try to come up for local terms for web development.
It may also help to choose a "niche" at first. Is there any type of local "niche" businesses? For instance, if you lived by popular attractions, and bed and breakfast accommodations were popular, hit up all the local B&B's.
Look at what type of site it is, who their "online" competition is, be informed on their niche, etc. Talk to them, give them a little info on what you figured out from your research etc and be honest in what they can expect, after asking what their goals are for having the site. It's a pain, but if you do your homework you should be able to land almost all of those quote request you receive. Don't give them one price, ask what their budget is right up front and work off of that (if you can). Why waste time dealing with someone that wants to spend $500 for a $10,000 site? Don't waste time writing up proposals/quotes etcetera unless you have both already agreed to everything verbally.
I never "purchased" templates for quoting and always preferred to come up with my own. Personalize each quote and tailor it to the site and niche (do a little research).
[edited by: The_Contractor at 9:33 pm (utc) on Feb. 5, 2007]
There a lot things to be considered. And the case for one may not be the case for the other. Among to be considered are pricing, available market, marketability, demand, existing portfolio and most especially how aggressive have we been in our campaign. All you need to do is to pick one from this list and aim to overcome if there is still a way to do so.
Go local - I'll second that. We moved into a new space last November, and there is still a sign out front with the name of a previous tenant, a web developer. So far I've turned down two jobs - folks simply walking in looking for a web designer. Post some signs around town. People will take notice.
I have to throw my 2 cents worth in here in reply to the suggestion to "Go Local". When going local, you are going to have to structure your pricing to your local market. By this I mean, you may not be able to charge what the rest of the free world is charging for professional web development when quoting your local businesses.
Case in point:
I live in Madisonville Kentucky. We own a web development company. 95% of our clients are from states other than Kentucky. Madisonville has a population of 20,000. If you quote professional graphic design and php/mysql development even at an $80/hour rate, these folks here faint from sticker shock. The small local businesses that dont want to pay for anything are the biggest pain in the rear.
It has come to the point that we don't even chase local business for fear of having to give our services away to the local yocals. I would rather try to compete on a global basis and charge a respectable amount for what we do. But then again, if you aren't positioned to compete globally, or even nationally, then the local market may be just for you.
|By this I mean, you may not be able to charge what the rest of the free world is charging for professional web development when quoting your local businesses. |
That may be a good thing. I know others whom have found developers in other countries willing to work for $8-10 and hour US and they are actually skilled (language is often the largest problem, not the spoken word, but the meaning/context of it).
|If you quote professional graphic design and php/mysql development even at an $80/hour rate, these folks here faint from sticker shock. |
Less than most licensed plumbers charge to do work ;)
Seriously though, we have never revealed an hourly rate except to "other" developers we are doing work for (and that is rare). Why would you reveal an hourly rate? If they want add-ons or additional work - simply figure it out and say it would cost $xx.xx amount.
|I would rather try to compete on a global basis and charge a respectable amount for what we do. But then again, if you aren't positioned to compete globally, or even nationally, then the local market may be just for you. |
Who is "positioned to compete globally"? How does say a compnay in the USA compete and get work from Asian countries? Unless you are fluent in several languages and you are willing to work for nothing, most companies in the USA are going to get work from USA, Europe, Australia, and some from Canada. Most of your work will come from the USA unless you are in a specific niche. So they are somebodys "local" clients.
The "best" customers have already paid someone else for a site, scripting, or other service at least once ;)
[edited by: The_Contractor at 2:12 pm (utc) on Feb. 10, 2007]
Client may look for a strong portfolio amongst other things - I know I do before I even think about looking at them.
One niche that may do well and may be easy to crack, next time youro on the motorway take careful note of the lorrys that your passing.
The thing that surprises me constantly is that many have spen a small fortune on tarpullins and logo design on their trucks however they use a freemail address!
I suspect that they dont know how to get a good/personalised email address and the impact that the free one is having upon them.
Get in there!
You HAVE TO differntiate yourself. As others have said, anyone can design a website. How are you going to provide a superior solution?
Also, you may want to look inot providing resources, eg. reviews, articles, handbooks, buying guides, etc. This is how I land 90% of my business. I provide a "unique" service - unique in that most clients didn't know they needed what I have. And I look like the world's topmost expert on the subject - again in the client's eyes - becuase of the content I provide on my website.
There's really no mystery to what I do, but I am able to convey the differece over my cometitors.
|Client may look for a strong portfolio amongst other things - I know I do before I even think about looking at them. |
Really? If you base hiring a developer on a huge portfolio, you may be missing some of the most capable people/firms.
Why? Most schools, government, University, non-profit, and large/branded sites do not want/allow "Site designed by soandso.com". As a matter of fact the largest jobs we were ever involved with do not want anyone knowing you developed their sites and always have that stipulated.
There are many portfolios out there from other designers/developers pointing to sites we "redesigned" or "completely" changed for clients. It's funny to watch them update their image/snapshot of a site that has nothing to do with what they had originally done for the client.
Also, now days the only work I ever do is for other developers for their own projects or for their clients and they take the credit (which is fine by me)...hehe
My point is, portfolios are like testimonials...don't put to much weight or rely upon them to heavily ;)
[edited by: The_Contractor at 10:15 pm (utc) on Feb. 12, 2007]
Going local can be a real pain!
People want the scale and functionality of ebay or amazon and have budgets not exceeding 500 (I've had 4 so far want this for up to that price)
On the lower end people want a 10-20 page web site created and you know from what is required that the site should be costing 1000+ but they don't want to spend more than 100 because they have a friend who can do it for 30 but they want a more "professional" feel so are willing to pay treble his price but no more.
I provide a lot of information of interest to those who have tried to design their own pages and their sites aren't ranking well, i.e.,, how to get good keyword rank, graphics tutorials, web page hijacking, how to stop those stealing your content, etc. and that is where about 70% of my traffic comes from yet I get so much business I turn away several jobs per week.