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Something that I have always been very poor at, is marketing. I not a natural salesman and it shows in just about everything I attempt.
A quick piece of research indicated that about 71% of new businesses survive longer than three years. So what happened to the other 29%?
Clearly some will have failed simply because they weren't viable in the first place, but it's my belief (gut feeling if you like) that many fail through lack of marketing. Getting their message in front of the greatest possible amount of people.
Now keeping in mind new "one man band" start-ups would probably have very limited funds, what are your favourite marketing techniques that worked for you?
Don't try to "oversell" and never make promises you can't keep.
Tailor your sales methods to suit each client, this makes them feel that you are treating them as individuals and not "One of the pack"
Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools in existance....I sometimes offer discounts on bit's of kit, software etc. via a coupon, which (when presented by the new customer) entitles the existing client to the aforementioned bonus.
Target your core audience effectively,a lot of my business comes from the student / university area, ads in the right locations are cheap and effective.
For business clients (networking etc) be flexible, even if this means installing updates, cabling routers etc over a weekend....The word of mouth works here too!
Most of my work comes either from repeat contracts or through responding to tender invitiations. I don't need to do a great deal of advertising as such, but I do need to keep my name and my businesses in the minds of clients and potential clients. I do that by keeping in touch with clients, even when not actually contracted to them - drop them an email, or pick up the phone just to say 'hello'. I have picked up a few short contracts following those contacts.
my line of business (social research and evaluation of public funded programmes) also means that i have to keep abreast of policy changes and statistics on e.g. unemployment, etc., particularly in the regions I work in (East and West Midlands). I can collate that information into da ocument fairly cheaply and send that round to potential clients for free, often just as a pdf. That seems to work as well.
You are doing all the right things :)
to develop both business and marketing plans.
Because they act as references and reminders of what you are providing, the rationale for doing what you do, and who you hope to provide it for.
They are the drivers and the focus, and without them, it would be easy to get distracted.
Naturally, they will need to be refreshed as the business progresses, and also remain flexible.
In the appendix of my marketing plan, I have a list of contacts from my previous working times, and the list serves as a reminder of who I want to contact/have contacted, and the response/take up. This is also refreshed periodically as new contacts are made. A bit 'heath-robinson' but it works for mebut could easily be transferred into a small database.
In the plan is my target market, and target sector. Again, this helps me focus and identify potential clients to research within those parameters. It also helps me in researching competitors.
I've not had to do any marketing in the strictest sense however, but did find it useful to develop some marketing leaflet type documents (using Publisher) and also developed a web-site, to which I can refer clients.
I also ensure I have a good CV, as clients invariably ask for it. I have 2: a personal one, and a Supplier version.
Word of mouth is also very useful (as mentioned in the thread), so naturally it's important to do a good job on assignment. If you achieve this, then they will 'market' you to some extent.
However, I would imagine that failing to deliver could trash any marketing attempts which you might pursue, as I guess word would quickly get around.
I also ask for them to complete a Client Feedback Questionnaire which asks if they would recommend my services to others, if approached.
and one of my golden rules in marketing is never to make a claim that I'm not going to be able to fulfil.
However, there are loads of books on this topic. I liked this one (following recommendation) coz it's easy and simple to read - then, you can delve deeper into this mystic art!
Looks good, Chris -- added to my Wishlist.
Chris the Ancient; thanks for the book tip. I've ordered one from Amazon. They had a second hand one (supposed to be as new) for £1.40, so can't go wrong at that price. I'll have a read and see if I can improve my poor record in this area.
I'll leave the thread open a while longer, as it's a massive field and perhaps others may add a few more "pearls of wisdom."
Incidentally, I agree 100% with not committing to something you can't deliver and have always used that as a cornerstone of everything I've ever done.
Sales and marketing is my area of expertise. I have been in sales many years and I am currently sales director and partner of a manufacturing company.
There are hundreds of books available about sales and marketing, I can assure you it is easier to write a book about it than to do it right. Most of what you will read can be learned quite quickly by spending a bit of quality time with the right people. Bare in mind that quality info can be expensive. I published my first sales book last year (I will not promote it here) just to prove that I could. (Yes it is selling on-line).
A lot of written info is the same old stuff regurgitated and re-branded. It is people that you need to spend time with, a lot of marketing ideas are all around you, talk to your suppliers, study your competitors, and talk to other local businesses. What will work for you will probably be a combination of factors that work for others, there is no simple answer, you need to keep an open mind, look closer at other business ideas that appear to work and don’t be frightened of trying something new.
As for my company, I have the best ever telesales guy I have ever met.
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