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.
What makes you different from all your competition?
Thats what you need to focus on and make known to everyone. You have to do some new and different. Make a splash and stand out from other the noise. Make a dozen Youtube videos and do some PR about your business. Stand out at those meet and greets and people will follow. Bright green socks and a funky business card will make you stick in people minds over other competitors.
I am a software engineer and I took a unique approach to my marketing issue. I found a couple of non-profit groups that had big money contributors and built/rebuilt a free web site and set them up on social media. When the big money contributors saw the new site I built, the business started to roll in. I also partnered in with a Marketing/Graphic design firm and that lead to a long-term contract and a steady flow of business. Hope this helps
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.
You have to know who your customers are so well, that you know where they shop, entertain themselves, work, and where they live --- and you'll know how to meet them at the point of need, or at the point you would be their consideration. Maybe your customers are NOT at the meet and greet, maybe they're at happy hour after work. So maybe you can find a way to get in with that location, and somehow co-brand an happy hour event. Coasters or something.... depends on your industry, but you'll get the idea.
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.
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.
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).
Do what you do best and find someone who knows how to find and close your type of business.
You may find clients by putting animated video for your website. Let this video do the talking for you to find new clients and get online sales.
Best if you can seek a partner with marketing/sales skills.
Hi George, this is the biggest challenge we hear from service providers, who are great at their area of expertise, but not professional marketers. This is one of the main reasons we started mosaicHUB. We believe that by sharing great advice, such as answering IT questions or writing an article on helpful IT topics will help you showcase your expertise to potential clients. And it really doesn't take much time if you set aside a little time every week. Also, as we grow, we intend to be the go-to place for businesses to search for providers like you in their area. A profile with client reviews and sample advice will really distinguish you from others.
Overall, you are doing the right things to get your name out there. Build an online presence in various places where your potential clients will be, be visible in your local community and ask your past/existing clients for testimonials, reviews and referrals. If you provide great work, your clients will want to help you out. Don't be afraid to ask. As for networking events, they are often hit or miss, but make sure you do research before you attend (see if you can get access to the attendee list if possible). You want to make sure that particular event will be worth your time. Also, you need to work the room. Talking to one or two people for long periods of time might be fun, but your goal should be to meet many people and the right people.
And to Joseph's point, what makes you different? While the green socks may or may not work (and I might just try that), having a compelling pitch will help you stand out. On your profile, I like the end where you say "We take techno-babble & break it down in terms you understand." I think a lot of small businesses though are still not quite sure how an IT firm can help them. When you are pitching, maybe provide some common examples or tell a story of how you have helped someone. You might help people understand why they need to hire someone like you.
Create networks with other geeks. Start a networking group where geeks can meet, exchange notes and fill you in on where the demand for your services would be.
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.
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!
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:)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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