We are geeks, not marketers. How do we find new clients in a competitive market in Seattle?
We are great at our core business, but finding new clients is rather difficult. We've gone to a few meet & greets & have had a great time, but little to no effect on bringing in the bacon. All and any advice is appreciated.
Learn to love SALES... or show the love to someone that does! See my attempt at defining the elements of successful selling at http://bit.ly/TipsOnSellingOut
look at some of the more successful kickstarter campaigns, those that have gone 'viral.' you'll see that you can keep the tone of geek and reach a huge audience. here's one such campaign:
your best bet is word of mouth. you have to craft a message first (video about what you do, case study, web site) so people can understand what you offer (think layperson, but don't dumb down the message). then, drive it out to everyone you know on all social channels and get out to where your potential customers are for a handshake session, event, or press conference. what are you selling and what's in it for me? are the questions you need to answer from the perspective of your audience.
You need to position yourselves as experts. Look for speaking engagements (or create one) for your target market. Write an article for your local paper. You can even create an event where you'd invite your market to come to. In fact, letting your local media know via a phone pitch and press release will do wonders. You may be invited to talk about it on TV, radio and in the newspaper.
Create a unique selling proposition/statement about what you do.
By the way, the meet greets, how to you normally engage with prospects?
The reason I ask is that simply saying I am this or that doesn't get it. Instead, do it this way when asked what do you do: "You know how some people have this problem (fill in with a problem you can solve), well what I do is this solution (fill-in the solution).
Why not try making a presentation of your skills and what you folks can offer to potential consumers. you could have a Q and A session, videotape the whole thing, cut it down to smaller bite sized clips for social media.
You might think @ starting a podcast and invite businessmen who you know that have had a need for your type of skillset to 'set-up' a nice upsell for listeners. How about taking all the brain power and writing a 'white paper' and put it on your website, or blog in return for an email address and start to create a database of potential target consumers. - There's a million ways to skin a cat!
First of all, don't think competitive - think collaborative. With that change in mindset, so does your strategic thinking.
Know your self, your business, your culture, your mission, your values, and all this will set you a apart. Work with a model!
Knowing your market is the most important order of your day - not what others are doing. Align with your industry. AND hire an expert like me.
Being a saleman, I can tell you that prospecting and networking are never something things that work together! Networking events are great to attend and often fun, however you and the team need to pull key people that you want to identify with or business to network into at these events... Prospecting is your cold calling , shotgun email campaigns, or following up with the people you meet at networking events.
I wouls also look into BNI groups as they teach referral makerting, and build relationships with local business professionals
This is the Mission Link.. When you are a Geek Like myself, you need a Sales Team! There is no such thing as a Competitive Market! if you are good at what you do and know that your competition can not beat your product, then you just need to have that Voice for you! You need a Sales Team! if you need more info on that Ask me in a more private session! I don;t want to give away to many Details here! ha ha You guys Rock!
Short answer: When going to those meet & greets focus on giving away some of your knowledge for free - also, in stead of marketing your products & solutions, market what you believe in, WHY do you have this business - make sure to give value to anyone you talk to, without expecting anything in return - it will turn out, when you have this focus, that you will attract the right people and THEY will ask to meet with you:-) for inspiration, check out Simon Sinek on youtube
Asking your existing clients usually produces good results. if they are happy with your services they will be happy for their clients to use you.
Incentives are another good way, regular newsletters or e-newsletters, making sure you have data capture on your website, competitions on social media, press coverage.
There are many ways, they will work best if you have a plan of action, and get some help if you need it. Good luck.
I am using my intuition today when answering these questions. Please let me know if its useful.
If you are great at your core business. Have you got testimonials? Like attracts like...
I feel you are forcing it, so hence restricting the client to make their own decision. Its about trusting yourself more, trusting your business more, trusting that what you do is very valuable.
Is there any reason why specifically Seattle? Maybe your expertise is better used outside of Seattle or Freelancing.
You identified yourself as a Geek? Draw a picture --
a. Who is this Geek?
b. What is the typical day of this Geek?
c. What is the typical, problems, frustrations and core issues that need to be solved?
d. What does this Geek enjoy?
e. What does this Geek hate? (I would think a Geek would hate, being forced to buy)
f. what does this Geek Love?
Its about nurturing the tree in the right way. What soil does this Geek Need? What Water does this Geek need? What fertilizer does this Geek Need? What sunlight does this need? What air does this Geek need?
What fruit will fall from the tree when the Geek receives all its nutrients?
When you focus so much on bringing in the bacon, you forget all the other things that are required to bring in the fruit. When everything is in balance, things will prosper.
I really think George you need to think outside of the location. Think worldwide. How can my services really help people that I connect on forums like this, where it doesn't matter where they live in the world. I believe you are restricting your success by simply looking at I must get more new sales in Seattle.
Enjoy your day
Think Fundamentals as you do in sports. Regardless how competitive the market, well-implemented marketing fundamentals can triumph.
Does your company name tell people what kind of business it is? Are you very clear and forthright about what benefit you are going to provide for clients? In other words, do you say -- specifically -- how your company make their life better or their profits bigger? This should also be clear and direct. Don't be fancy
Have you joined the chamber of commerce or at least networked with chamber members?
How are your Google results?
Have you taken full advantage of all possible free online listings like Yelp, GooglePlaces, yahoo listings, etc.?
There are many more simple, basic, free marketing things you can do.
Think about a book called Jump Start our Business Brain for more fundamentals. (There's also Jump Start your Marketing Brain but I haven't gotten to look at it)
A little bit later, you can think about the thing that makes your business unique and what you can provide that nobody else can provide. If it were "the only xxxx in Seattle" or "the first xxxxxx in Seattle" that would be cool but you don't need to get fancy at first.
With all your messages, website, etc.: Think Clear, Simple, Direct. Come right out and say specifically how you're going to make life better for them. I bet you'll stand out in Seattle by keeping it simple. Very direct and simple.
Often entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking "If we build it, sales will come"
In this day of social media taking a greater role in B2B demand generation, some are moving away from tradition sales activities. Although diminished, the value of an outbound business development program is critical to creating and sustaining a viable long term pipeline of potential customers. In short, hire good sales people and pay them well.
Profile your customer (industry, title, etc.), search for that title, industry, size of company in the greater Seattle area on LinkedIn and save your searches. Connect with these people and start a conversation of interest to you both. Talk about your business and tell them you would like a chance to meet them and learn more about their business. Create mutual value.
Key to finding your "hot prospects" is having a well vetted benefits list (pains/wants - not features!)
Based on the benies you can characterize your prospects by the places they are already searching for such solutions. Then go to those places (forums, clubs, LinkedIn Groups etc.) and help them. (Play nice, first give free advice.)
BTW, it's a good idea, if you can characterize a "pain", you can start your own LinkedIn Group using a "catchy" (pun intended) Group name i.e. "Making Wealth Out of Waste."
As another mentioned, meet and greets by themselves are really hit to miss. But if you work with organizations where your customers might be AND your company becomes the featured speaker, both you and the audience have something in common to discuss. Train one of your employees to do public speaking on an educational topic that ties to your business. The goal of the talk is to provide free advice that showcases your expertise (do not make it a sales pitch). Then work the room after the talk as a follow up with everyone, you can leverage your presentation as a launch into what else your company might do for the participants when you are one on one working the room. Since your company was the speaker, people will also want to talk to you. Try small business organizations or professional women's groups or ones that focus on entrepreneurial groups. They want speakers for their members and they don't want a sales talk. If your employee is passionate about the topic, he (or she) will just needs some assistance learning to speak in front of a small group.
What are your products/services? Who is your customer? Where do they live, work and play? Who is your competition? "Geeks", as I will use your term, are excellent at retrieving data. Aggregate that data then go where there are: network.
If you have someone on your team, whether that be you or someone else, network. The key, however, is someone who genuinely loves people and loves to serves others coupled with believing in your product/service. If they know they are helping someone in any way, this will lead to good, honest sales that will drive revenue to "bring in the bacon". Hope you get all the help you need, George! Many blessings to you:)
George - your challenge is great but actually not unique in your field as well as most others. We are all in our respective businesses because we are passionate about what we do, not because we are great salespeople (although there are a few great and blessed ones out there). The best advice/coaching I have received to help me build my business was to understand that finding business is about having great conversations - and alot of them. Great conversations are about sharing and collaborating with people who are in your prospective market. It is great to share something and in return, ask for some advice on how you can meet the people who would be interested in your business. If you look to your connections, ask then to think about 2-3 people in their network who would be interested in a conversation to help you grow your business. Make sure your connections make the introduction for you and then add value. You will grow an extended and supportive network quickly that will put you in touch with your right market.
Ultimately, you should be doing this regardless if you are passionate about making your business a success but as all startups are that are trying to deliver as well as grow, there are some great individuals out there that can help you set up meeting for you. Just make sure they are not an impersonal, web/tel company seeking volume. Find a great partner, who will understand your business and your values and who will represent you and help you develop your target market. There are some great ones out there who can bring in some connections that you would not have been able to reach otherwise. There are a lot of talkers out there too so do your homework.
Best of luck in your venture!
Take away from attending a recent Chamber breakfast - "Identify your unique selling position". Position all to that goal.
All of the comments are good by the way. I like the reference to a business plan particularly - with a strong market research component - competitors, pricing, geography, demographics product or service - Add to the discussion forum a bit about who you are and what you are trying to provide to these new clients you seek, be specific. It seems like you have the attention of some fine minds.
Some interesting answers have already been provided, but in addition some great advice I once got was to create an image of the 'perfect' client as a jumping board for writing a marketing plan. What demographic; where do they shop; what are their needs; etc.? Building a relatively (but not overly) specific image will allow you to do targeted marketing and devise a proper strategy. And the more successful you are at reaching your target audience, the more you can think about widening your search and reaching other potential clients.
The suggestions below are usually incorporated into a business or marketing plan (a subset of the business plan). Not to sound smarmy, but do you have one?
Basically, take the time to identify your niche markets, identify marketing approaches, develop budgets, and implement. Some help from SCORE or your local SBDC might work.