I was recently in a discussion over at the digitalpoint forums basically about ‘how do you market yourself?’. The discussion was going back and forth between bidding on clients and other ways to get you noticed.
Although bidding may work for some, my thought has always been why pay for clients? There are plenty of things you can do for FREE and still achieve success.
First things first. This is not some BS information that came out of the blue. These client building techniques are based on personal experience I’ve had over the last 16 years and have proved more than effective.
These can pertain to any industry but we’ll focus on web design/development as was the original intent in the ‘how do you market yourself?’ thread.
1. Have a personal/company website or blog
Yeah, you already know that by now and if you are new to the game, understand how critical it is to have one.
In this digital age it’s extremely important to keep up with the current technologies to promote and market yourself on the internet. If you don’t, you get left behind. You get left behind, you don’t make money. Blogs and websites, along with social media are the standards for showcasing your skills and experience today. This allows you to display your talents online and make it available 24/7 worldwide.
2. An opportunity can present itself anywhere and anytime
I have a stack of business cards in my wallet that I hand out to places I go that have no web site. A good place to start is somewhere you regularly hang out. I’ve got many sites by chatting with the store owners, people at bars, etc. You can also post your business cards on the bulletin boards at local stores
3. Location, location, location
Speaking of placing your cards on bulletin boards, the number 1 goal on your web design project list is to get noticed. You need to make it your number 1 goal on your self promotion list as well. Chances are you won’t get much of a return posting your card at a Walmart bulletin board that’s hidden in the back of the store. Design something that is well thought out and place it in a location where people will take notice.
4. Build your reputation
This one took me a while to get comfortable with. I came from the school of ‘Keep my secrets closely guarded and to myself.’ It was hard for me to share my knowledge because I didn’t want my competition to steal it.
Become a leader or respected voice in web design communities. Share your knowledge with other folks. You don’t have to share everything but helping out others in need will build trust among your peers. This can also build your network of colleagues. This technique is also proven in the higher education field as well.
5. Finders fee
Tell, don’t ask, your friends that if they find someone who needs web design work that you will pay them a finders fee. Meaning you will give them $100 for everyone that signs a contract with my company. Two things. If you ask and not tell them to find someone chances are nothing will come from it. Direct them in a positive way. Again, another proven technique. Second, you might say $100?!? It’s all based on incentive. Ask yourself would I do this for $20? Probably not. But for $100 your ears might perk up.
In my experience the keys to building a successful customer base are building trust and building relationships. Make people feel comfortable. Don’t make them think. Keep them at ease and include them in the process. I don’t just do projects and get paid, I create a process that involves interacting with the customer the entire way before, during and after a project is complete. From there my friend word of mouth does wonders.