What is the best way to market your website design service to small businesses?
As many as half of small businesses and self employed professional lack a website. I want to satisfy this demand by creating low cost custom websites for small business customers. What is the best marketing channel (online, direct mail, PPC) to engage and convert SMB customers?
Everyone has had great comments below but there is on thing that wasn't addressed. If you want to dominate your market with your business and service those in need. Bottom line: be on all the local directories that have authority, ie, Bing, Yahoo, Google, Merchant Circle, Hotfrog, etc. There are many of them. I have access to 6 countries worth.
Hi Kevin, I am not an expert in the US market however, having read all previous comments, I would suggest the following:
1. As i have no idea of the details of your offer, I would offer those businesses a package that includes (setting up a website, creating social media pages and accounts and maintaining them).
2. Pricing: I would study the market and offer a very basic website for a small fee along with a low monthly fee to retain the website and the social media accounts.
3. I would also provide content writing service at an additional fee and some basic design services (like a logo and maybe photography) keep in mind that when making a decision to build a website companies will not only pay the cost of technical development there are associated costs (related to marketing, literature and content)
4. Most important as well is driving traffic to the website and converting visitors into customers in order to make it feasible for those companies to invest in web presence.
Now having all the above covered, I suggest you open more than one channel to sell your service, you also need to test many options and decide which one is bringing in more sales with the quality that is good enough for you. suggested Channels:
1. Social media (linkedin is a good option) for networking and generating leads
2. online adverting
3. Adverting companies, they could be your resellers
4. Direct sales
5. Finally, if the competition is too high in the US I suggest you open new markets, Middle East is still a good market.
Online blogging...every successful business needs a blog. Blogging is reaching more people and research shows that businesses rely on it to attract customers.
I think a small business will usually go out and seek what they need on their own. Therefore, you should make yourself readily visible.
1- get a FREE account with SmartGuy.com
2- Offer Free SmartGuy accounts as an incentive and "feeder" for your own site designs
3-I personally email, say, 1,000 small business to indicate that I'll be coming by with a free gift.
Your only cost at this point is whatever you pay for emailing. If you have the addresses, client, host, and software, then go ahead yourself. If not, contact me. We can do the emailing for you. 415 233-7015 Pacific Time Zone.
Yes there is a huge demand, but I don't know if you realize why there is this demand.
I own a marketing company and have been running it for 8+ years now. And yes there is a demand for websites for small businesses and entrepreneurs. I'm not disagreeing.
The reason for this demand and I will be honest with you. Most of these businesses can't afford what their business needs in a website to grow. Which is understandable, they are starting up, have to be careful with their budget and can't invest $500+ into a templated websites. They need to start bringing in revenue themselves by focusing on getting new consistent business.
I mention templated websites because to custom a website, do the graphic design work, setup a leads capture area...etc that is all custom to the client and will cost you personally $1,000+ to design because of your time to do it. Lets be honest here say your time is worth $60 per hour to design a website, we are talking a very basic website here. This is including modifications, writing copy, finding them image or having you do the graphic designing and/or modify their images, put in plugin's that they want...etc
Lets say it takes you 20 hours to do this because the back and forth with e-mails, phone calls. Client wants to make a change because they talked to a friend who said they should use a different image, colour...etc right now you are looking at $1,200 of your time. This is not including if you had to outsource any work to a videographer, graphic designer, coder...etc.
I tell you this not be negative against new business owners and entrepreneurs. I am telling you this to help save you the frustrating and financial challenge this can cause you. It's not worth you burning yourself out for $100 profit when you know that your time is worth more.
Now in saying this the best way to connect with new business owners and entrepreneurs is
1) Meetup.com- go to local meetups that are focused on businesses in your area. This is an amazing place to meet new business owners and entrepreneurs.
2) Local industry events: Real Estate, Financial advisors...etc go there and network with them.
3) Door to door
4) cold calling
These are the fastest ways to meeting these types of clients.
There the long solution is to start marketing online, ranking your website properly with SEO, Social Media Marketing...etc.
Let me know if there is any other questions you might have.
I wish good luck in your business Andrew
Establishing and maintaining a digital footprint into the future, engaging your current and future customers where they increasingly are, enabling them to find your business as 'search buyers', and ensuring you include digital channel with social integration to achieve your business goals and sales conversion.
The best way to build your business is not to assume demand. People no longer believe a website is a panacea. In many cases it is considered a "necessary expense."
Marketing your services is best done as others have suggested by "walking around" and "Networking". What you say and how you say it in those situations is critical to your success.
You need to speak in terms the business owner understands and meet their expectations of a web site as well as those they have of the provider. If you want to be successful, be honest about what the site can do for them. And guarantee them that you will show them how to make any change of words or pictures on the site by themselves. I will guarantee sales if you do that.
The single reason most people seek new (to them) web designers is to overcome problems with the current designer not being responsive and charging them "too much" for small changes. Beyond that, getting a site written properly is extremely difficult for small business owners. I have a product that simplifies that.if you are interested.
As with any web based business, It's always best to utilize as many marketing channels as possible especially when you're starting a new business.
1. Direct Contact (Online & In Person) - Direct contact marketing is going to be a crucial step to starting out your web design business. Not only is this option the most cost efficient for low capital start ups, but it allows you to search out companies that you know you can WOW with your services.
How I go About It: I have found that the easiest way to sell your services is by really "showing" the client what you have to offer. To accomplish this I recommend building up a live demo of a website you feel really showcases your talents. Once you have this, the game is on! I start out by combing through local Business listings on yp.com or in the phone book. From here I simply make a list of potential companies and begin checking their websites one by one.
The key here is to find companies with outdated or just poor quality sites....maybe no website at all! Now all you need to do is start sending emails with a short introduction into your services. Don't get to word crazy as this can often appear to business owners as a scam that you are trying to talk them into. Short & Sweet! For best results I usually add a statement along the lines of, "Services starting at only $-.--, View Sample Demo Here" or Check us out at example.com
In Person - Another way to use direct contact marketing is by visiting local businesses. There is really no easier way to earn a business owners trust and confidence than by introducing yourself in person. Aside from that, it allows you to sit down with a prospective client and show them how they can benefit from your services.
You'll probably see similar comments from others, but…
The key element is personal contact and service. That means one-on-one introductions, cold calls, etc. There is a lot of competition, including hosting companies whose goal is to convince people that they can do it themselves, and some, perhaps many can. But do they want to? It involves time, learning something new, supporting it, and whether or not they could be spending their time better on the core business.
Specialization is also useful. Pick a market segment and get to understand it. When you talk to a prospect, let them know that you are not a generic web designer, but that you understand their business and that is part of your added value. Small businesses in particular that are cash strapped want to make sure that you are interested in them and not just a quick project.
Hi Andrew. What's worked for me and my company is having someone on the ground actually speaking face to face with business owners. Currently, i've targeted a few areas and brought on sales reps to speak directly with the business owners and collect a 20% commission for their work. I provide my reps with a lot of resources to help, including a sales rep procedures manual, details on all our services and how to market them, business cards, mailing labels, etc. Basically, they bring in the leads, we perform the work, then the rep presents it to the client. It took a lot of time to create all the info documents to get this system running smooth, but the time spend was totally worth it in the end.
It is a tough market in the US and you have a lot of competition.
Small business means small budget and,as the others have said, many without a website don't see the ROI in having one. Many build it themselves using website building tools supplied via hosting companies. They might not be great sites but they satisfy the need to have a site akin to a Yellow pages entry.
So you can't get lower cost then "free" with hosting.
Having said that my advice is to go local and literally walk around your neighborhood and ask if they have a website, need one, need a new one etc. Also contact local computer repair shops etc. who would support local business and work out an arrangement to get referrals.
Try local advertising in local papers the same places your local business advertise.
And work on your unique product offering which I am have to say has to be Local SEO. Any site you build has to bring them new business and so you have to optimize it for (for example) "wedding dresses, San Mateo, CA".
Nice idea, but some businesses do not need websites or function optimally. Except you are showing them that the proposed incurred cost wouldn't be sunk but would open up a new market for their reach.
Today I think digital marketing can do just fine to get the desired result. I.e. Via blog posts, twitter, Facebook e.t.c.
It depends on the details. Some small businesses are very successful without a website because of the niche they are in. Another large percentage will never get a website because they are too stubborn and they don't see the value in it. The small percentage left will get one if they see the value versus cost at the right point. Don't forget that you need to make money doing this as well.
Networking with people is the best way. Going to chamber meetings and other similar events because that's where the small business owners are. LinkedIn and Facebook as great tools to find ones in more tech savvy niches. I would say that e-mail and direct mail are great but it can be difficult because there business can be hard to find and target. I would say target specific markets like restaurants and find events and hangouts so you can mingle with them and get to be known in that area.