March 28, 2014 at 12:52 am #97080
I've been operating largely based on word of mouth marketing (which my clients are awesome about!) and social media, but I am trying to ramp up my business and am curious what marketing/networking strategies have worked for others. Are you a member of the chamber or other local networking groups? Are you in the phone book? Do you pay for advertising anywhere specific?
I'm especially interested in how people go about finding clients who understand the value of website design. Recently it seems like I have been getting a bunch of inquires from people who expect to get a really fancy website with tons of custom features and plugins for cheap (like $200), and when I quote them they are shocked and don't end up hiring me, which is frustrating when I have spent an hour or more preparing a proposal for them. I don't consider myself a "high end designer" as I was called today; I'm just realistic about how much my time is worth. I have prices (including my hourly rate) published on my website so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, and yet...
Any thoughts on marketing and/or finding clients with realistic website budgets would be greatly appreciated.
March 28, 2014 at 9:34 pm #97222
I get work from word of mouth, but most of my business comes from online - people searching and finding me on forum boards like this, LinkedIn, and other boards, Twitter, etc. And I'd have to say lately - more people are finding me than I am finding prospects - I guess that's a good thing. One thing I would suggest to you is before you engage in any really deep conversation with the prospect - put your cards on the table. Just say, "My rates for basic website development starts at $XXX.xx and go up based on the custom features your require." That statement right there should let them know they should reply, "Oh, that's not in my budget." Do that before drafting a proposal. If they say that's good, then move on to the proposal. Don't engage in a two hour discussion only to find out they don't have money or they don't have enough money. I have to explain to potential clients that they are buying "my time and my skill sets" in addition to the website. I had a guy say to me, "I don't know how to do this, can I pay you to do it and then you show me how to do it?" When I said sure and here's the price - he squawked at it and proceeded to say, "I only need you to do this, this, and add this and that. Your price is too high." I said, "Sir, not only are you getting my time to do this, this, and add this and that.... you then want me to spend 4 hours of my time to show you how to do this, this, and add this and that." If you feel that my price is too high, you can find someone else to do it for you. My issue with prospects is this - how do YOU tell ME that my prices are too high - when YOU cannot do what I do? Those are the very people I turn down for work - they don't understand the time and commitment we are putting in to their vision and they are not being respectful of that. It may take you some time to build up a brand where people will just contact you out the blue.
Some other resources you can use - 1) look for smaller community newspaper and run an ad (an ad in the same places where your clients are asking you to create ads for them!), 2) there are several free publications where I live like Jewish Women's Network - they publish a monthly magazine, 3) go to coffee houses and look at the magazines and poster boards - I've seen a lot of interesting things in there. I got quite a bit of business by going and sitting in coffee shops early in the morning but since you have children, that might not work out good but who knows, 4) and get really active on Twitter - Twitter has helped me a lot! Good luck!
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!March 28, 2014 at 9:38 pm #97224
One more suggestion - always go back to previous clients' websites, browse around and see how you can make their websites better. You might see that they are having difficulty with something and you can say, "Hello, I stopped by your website and I think there are a few things I think you can improve upon or there are some new tweaks I can add to make this or that look better. I just recently did this to two former clients and they hired me right away to implement those suggestions.
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!March 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm #97230
Thanks for the thoughts, anitac. I do think I might need to make a point of verbalizing my starting price. I have that information available on my website but it would seem that is not enough, especially in cases where the prospects are unwilling to name a budget range (which usually ends up meaning their budget is to low).
And though I have been doing a lot of updates to past websites at client request, I hadn't thought that I might approach past clients to see if they want me to improve things. I feel like I'm pretty good at putting myself out there and generally have the right amount of work from people who have found me, but it is always interesting to hear how others go about actively searching for clients.
And, yes the kid thing does make it hard sometimes to go to networking events. 🙂
March 29, 2014 at 9:02 am #97263Davinder Singh KainthMemberMarch 29, 2014 at 9:08 am #97265
You're welcome. And @aucoeur you should get really active on Twitter. Start following people in the niches you'd like to market to. You can get work from all over the world. I helped someone in Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday - Reach for the World... not just your community! Good luck!
Love coffee, chocolate and my Bella!March 29, 2014 at 1:16 pm #97312
You know I have been avoiding Twitter like the plague. It seems like something that is only effective if you have a lot of time to put into engaging with people, and I don't want to be tied to my computer or phone all the time. What's your strategy for Twitter and how much time do you put into it?
I have found Facebook to be very useful for me (I have gotten multiple clients from people liking or sharing my photo "ads" on Facebook). Pinterest, too, is very useful, and I also use Instagram but not really for my business. I blog and I think that is really what helped me when I was getting started, because I occasionally write about working from home or share some screenshots of what I have been working on and that makes my blog followers more aware of what I do. I have gotten a couple of clients who found me in a very round about way: I always leave a URL to my personal blog on comments I write on blogs/websites; the clients read my comment, visited my personal website, then found their way to my business site and decided to hire me. Of course, I also get a lot of clients because they clicked my byline in the footer of a website that I built. I am going to try to do some WP/Genesis/related blogging on my business website and recently started playing around with Google Plus, mainly for SEO purposes.
I feel really comfortable with my social media strategy for now. I have clients in multiple states across the country (MA, NY, NJ, TX, WY mainly). We just moved to Colorado in January, so I am really looking to build my local client base. I just spent a while going through my website and trying to update the SEO to better reflect my new geographic area. I'd like to go to some chamber events, but with two kids at home and a working hubby that makes things a little more challenging. Likewise RE WordPress meet-ups, although I am excited that I do have the possibility of networking with other developers now (I never lived in an area with many other WP developers before). I've gotten involved with a Mom Owned Business Association which is useful because I can take the kids to meetings, but I am beginning to suspect most of the members don't have the budget to afford my services. That led me to think about paying for advertising as a possibility until I can improve my SEO for the local area. I'm definitely going to print up some fliers to put up around town. Just thought I would see what others have found useful for their local areas.
I really appreciate all of your ideas and input, Anitac.
March 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm #97314
There is also this issue of not just finding people who need websites, but people who have the budget for a custom website. Businesses that recognize the value of a well built/designed site and are will to pay for it. That to me has been the trickier part. I have been getting plenty of inquiries lately but not with budgets that are worth my time.
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