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  1. #1
    Web Design Addict
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    So I think I've found a niche...now what?

    Along with planning to publish my own sites, I was brainstorming the other day and think that I've come up with a good niche for designing sites for other people/companies. Most of the companies in this niche (at least in my local area) do not have websites or have very poorly designed ones. My question do you is, how do I go about tackling this niche? Do I just gather email addresses and send out emails proposing a re-design of this site and offer my own services to them? Do I call? Do I throw on my best business suit and head down to their front door proposing what I have to offer?

    What is the best way to get clients in an unsaturated niche?
    Deron Sizemore
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    My Sites: LogoGala | Golf Ledger (coming soon)
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    I'd first take a step back and work out what it is you can offer these people. Do they really just need a re-design? Who says their web sites are poorly designed - you or them? Their web sites may work really well for them and their target market, and may bring in a lot of money. Or perhaps they know from experience that the internet isn't really the place for them to drum up business?

    If you are going to convince a company that they need to improve their web site, you first need to talk to them about their business, their customers, their needs, their objectives - what problems do they have and how can you help solve these problems via the web solution you provide. Once both they and you know how a web site can fit into their business stucture and make a significant difference, selling them your services will be a breeze.

    My advice is to try sending some carefully written sales letters to your target market - get a professional copywriter to write it if necessary. In this letter, you must get your prospect thinking about how their web site can be improved to help their business and let them know that you specialise in doing just this service. You don't get too long in a cold letter to make an impression, so make the first couple of sentances count. Make sure you address it personally to the correct person in the company. You could then follow up in a week or so with a phone call.

    I really wouldn't focus on simple redesigns though, simply because a redesign is generally only one aspect that makes a web site work - think marketing, site functionality, customer retention, newsletters, conversion rates, backend admin, customer support, staff training etc etc. These are the things you need to be adding to sites, not just new designs.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadowbox
    I'd first take a step back and work out what it is you can offer these people. Do they really just need a re-design? Who says their web sites are poorly designed - you or them? Their web sites may work really well for them and their target market, and may bring in a lot of money. Or perhaps they know from experience that the internet isn't really the place for them to drum up business?

    If you are going to convince a company that they need to improve their web site, you first need to talk to them about their business, their customers, their needs, their objectives - what problems do they have and how can you help solve these problems via the web solution you provide. Once both they and you know how a web site can fit into their business stucture and make a significant difference, selling them your services will be a breeze.

    My advice is to try sending some carefully written sales letters to your target market - get a professional copywriter to write it if necessary. In this letter, you must get your prospect thinking about how their web site can be improved to help their business and let them know that you specialise in doing just this service. You don't get too long in a cold letter to make an impression, so make the first couple of sentances count. Make sure you address it personally to the correct person in the company. You could then follow up in a week or so with a phone call.

    I really wouldn't focus on simple redesigns though, simply because a redesign is generally only one aspect that makes a web site work - think marketing, site functionality, customer retention, newsletters, conversion rates, backend admin, customer support, staff training etc etc. These are the things you need to be adding to sites, not just new designs.

    Nice! Points well taken here. Some stuff that never crossed my mind. I was only thinking "redesign" but your points are very valid. Also as you say, their design may be poor in my mind, but not theirs as it is subjective.

    Thanks for your input.
    Deron Sizemore
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    My Sites: LogoGala | Golf Ledger (coming soon)
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Always think in terms of ROI. What will a newly designed website do for sales that the current site will not? How will new tools that you could add help them make money? Is the site going to increase their brand promotion? Bring in leads and market the business? Help current customers and increase retention? And most importantly, just how much money are they going to actually make as a result of the efforts. Having a better site for the sake of having a better site is not a selling point for most companies, especially smaller ones.
    - Ted S

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
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    Just because you've discovered an industry with few or badly-designed sites doesn't necessarily constitute a niche. I recommend doing some research first. Is this industry affluent or struggling? When we designed a website for a P.I. a few years back, as a joke, he continually emailed us links to bad P.I. sites. So I began thinking this might be an industry to target. When I asked my client, he told me that the average independant P.I. can't even afford an office. He typically works out of his back bedroom, and builds his own website. Most of his colleagues could not believe "how much" he paided for his, even though you and I would consider it a small, modestly-priced project. Not exactly an affluent industry.

    So before you invest your time or money into a plan, be sure that you've got a hot market.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by johntabita
    Just because you've discovered an industry with few or badly-designed sites doesn't necessarily constitute a niche. I recommend doing some research first. Is this industry affluent or struggling? When we designed a website for a P.I. a few years back, as a joke, he continually emailed us links to bad P.I. sites. So I began thinking this might be an industry to target. When I asked my client, he told me that the average independant P.I. can't even afford an office. He typically works out of his back bedroom, and builds his own website. Most of his colleagues could not believe "how much" he paided for his, even though you and I would consider it a small, modestly-priced project. Not exactly an affluent industry.

    So before you invest your time or money into a plan, be sure that you've got a hot market.

    Thanks. The actual subject is HOT right now, but as for the market and need for sites...dunno. Will do some research.
    Deron Sizemore
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    My Sites: LogoGala | Golf Ledger (coming soon)
    Twitter: Deron Sizemore

  7. #7
    O Rly?? JakeJeck's Avatar
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    I would say about 5% of our clients are "redesign" clients. Businesses just aren't willing to pay for something that isn't broke no matter how atrocious their site looks. If they thought there site looked bad they wouldn't have signed off when it was first developed.

    But your niche could be different of course - just don't be too suprised if it takes talking to 20 clients before you get one to agree to a redesign.

  8. #8
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    Instead of focusing on redesign, focus on giving them a product that will make them more money. Yes design skills are good, but use it in conjunction with making a site that will actually SELL. That may mean teaming up with someone that has ecommerce skills or even learning those skills yourself. If they see the website as a vehicle to increase sales rather than a required information brochure(like a business card), perhaps they will be willing to spend a few more dollars.

    Out of all the web design areas, I am willing to bet you E-Commerce development is going to be one of the biggest growth areas for web designers! What happens when there are 2,3,4 billion people online in the future? I imagine ecommerce will be huuuggee.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeJeck
    I would say about 5% of our clients are "redesign" clients. Businesses just aren't willing to pay for something that isn't broke no matter how atrocious their site looks. If they thought there site looked bad they wouldn't have signed off when it was first developed.

    But your niche could be different of course - just don't be too suprised if it takes talking to 20 clients before you get one to agree to a redesign.
    I agree. Most businesses won't redesign a website simply for the sake of making it look better. The majority of my clients lately have been "redesigns," but how the site looked wasn't the motivating factor. What they considered "broken" wasn't the website at all. It was the business - they wanted more revenue, sales leads, etc. The redesign was merely the means to an end.

    Quote Originally Posted by deronsizemore
    Thanks. The actual subject is HOT right now, but as for the market and need for sites...dunno. Will do some research.
    The subject may be "HOT" but how much wealth is it generating? Are people actually making money, or is it just a lot of "potential" right now? If people are making some good money at this, then they are going to want to invest some of that back into their business. On the other hand, if it's all just potential, your market will not have the capital to invest, so you'll be competing against Yahoo stores and the like.

    Quote Originally Posted by deronsizemore
    My question do you is, how do I go about tackling this niche? Do I just gather email addresses and send out emails proposing a re-design of this site and offer my own services to them? Do I call? Do I throw on my best business suit and head down to their front door proposing what I have to offer?

    What is the best way to get clients in an unsaturated niche?
    Businesses are marketed to this way all the time. If you do that, you're just another "salesman" trying to sell them. A better way is to become involved in this industy. Suppose you were its resident expert and people reconized you as such? Suppose its members felt that you truly cared about this industry because you did everything you could to help its members prosper?

  10. #10
    Matthew's Daddy Mike Empuria's Avatar
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    Telling some one they have a "poorly designed" website is risky. You are questioning their judgement as they chose the designer and the design.

    You may want to get them thinking about their site. Ask questions such as "Is your site over two years old?" Then point out that a lot has happened in the last two years and their site may not be as efficient or accessible or as up-to-date as it could be.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Empuria
    Ask questions such as "Is your site over two years old?" Then point out that a lot has happened in the last two years and their site may not be as efficient or accessible or as up-to-date as it could be.
    In my experience, this is still the wrong approach. Businesses generally don't really give a stuff about accessibility and you're only making your selling job much harder than it needs to be. Try selling something they care about - saving money, saving time, reducing customer support requests, increasing turnover, increasing leads.

    During the initial sales contact, your average business owner is not going to care how you are going to bring in these benefits, he'll be more interested that you can bring him these results. Once you've learned what needs 'fixing' in his business, you can then use your experience to suggest exactly what needs to be done to provide that fix.

    Graphical redesigns are great as long as you know why you are making those changes. You could redesign an ecommerce site just to make it look nicer, but wouldn't it be better to spend time consulting with a business, understand their customers and problems, examine their web logs, find out what pages have a high abandonment rate and then redesign those pages to directly address their low conversion rates?

    At this point, you become more than just a 'web designer' - you are a trusted business collaborator, someone brought in to make a significant, measurable impact on their business (and you can charge accordingly).

    Of course, before you can do this, you really need lots of experience and examples of other comparable clients where you helped make those impacts on thier lives. Trying to sell yourself purely on the premise that you 'make nicer, more up-to-date designs' is not really going to bring you (or your clients) much success.

  12. #12
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    You know, I have to say this is about the best comment I've read on any forums I've been involved with:

    "Try selling something they care about - saving money, saving time, reducing customer support requests, increasing turnover, increasing leads"

    AND, cuddos to shadowbox for hitting it on the mark...

    My approach is about the same...and I've been in marketing for far too many years to not mention the fact that there has to be a benefit (in your clients/or potential clients mind).

    Don't just sell them something, sell yourself with them. It will take time for some to come around...but, they will. You'll start to grow when you sell one person, point this out to the other prospect.

    And this is a little darker on the sales side of things, but "creating the pain" often works to...though be careful how you do it. I had a client who was paying $2,000.00+ a year in ecommerce costs...we showed him how we set-up an ecommerce site for one of his related partners at under $150.00/year operating costs...he was sold when we showed him the site he'd been using to purchase from for his supplier for the past year.

  13. #13
    Matthew's Daddy Mike Empuria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xman1x
    You know, I have to say this is about the best comment I've read on any forums I've been involved with:
    I thought that when I first read it. When the elections are over I think that it's good enough to go in my sig.


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