Entrepreneur
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By Andrew Neitlich

Back to the big picture

By Andrew Neitlich

I’ll be departing Sitepoint as a blogger at the end of this month. So in the week we have left together, let’s focus on the big picture and get back to basics.

The past blogs about mock ups raise a fundamental point: Nobody wants to hire a professional unless they are in pain, and even then, lots of people avoid professionals at all costs. Why? Because, as with a visit to the doctor, we hate being vulnerable, exposing ourselves, and dealing with an expert who can make us feel stupid. And — like it or not — the IT industry has a bad reputation (as that annoying computer guy on Saturday Night Live demonstrates).

This leads to a marketing challenge and opportunity. The challenge is that traditional marketing methods don’t work when selling professional services. It is simply too difficult to reach a busy, skeptical marketplace with sales pitches. As Seth Godin and other marketers have noted, if you want to get married, you don’t ask someone at a bar to marry you; you have to court them and earn their trust first. Well, the same is true in marketing your services.

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This means that, to be successful in your Web Design/Development Business, you need to put the following pieces of the puzzle together:

1. View your business as a professional practice with clients, not as a series of projects that come and go.

2. Make marketing a top priority. A great marketer will beat a great developer who can’t market almost any day.

3. Make everything you do to grow your business about: establishing trust, demonstrating value, and being credible.

4. Build a strong strategic foundation. Do this by focusing on a profitable niche market and by crafting an irresistible marketing message. The latter comes with a solid understanding of your prospect’s world: their problems, the costs of those problems, and their aspirations.

5. Get visible using low-cost, high-impact ways to demonstrate your value and establish your credibility. Take an educational/value-driven approach to marketing, and focus on tactics like referral systems, writing, speaking, research, community service, and getting involved in organization where your target market hangs out. Become a visible leader, not just a mercenary looking for work.

6. Develop systems to follow up automatically and also personally with prospects. Start by gathering prospect information and then following up in non-spam, value-laden ways (free reports, articles, etc). It takes 4-5 positive interactions until a prospect typically feels comfortable hiring you, or even talking to you about hiring you.

7. Learn how to assess opportunities for fit, so you don’t waste your time chasing opportunities you will never win.

8. Learn to to win opportunities that do fit, so that you win more opportunities that you do pursue.

9. Deliver and delight by managing expectations, focusing on BUSINESS results (not just the tasks you’ve contracted to do), managing the relationship, and having a can-do attitude throughout.

10. Build long-term client relationships.

11. Grow your firm by putting systems in place to leverage your time and money, and create equity value (a la the E-Myth series of books).

That’s it folks. Post any questions about the above puzzle pieces, and I’ll do my best to address them in next week. But please take some time to review the last 10-11 months of blog posts first, so we don’t reinvent the wheel here.

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