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.

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.

  • Well good luck with life outside of SitePoint! Is anyone taking your place? I like your blog and now that’s one less blog I get to enjoy… (Anyone notice how SitePoint seems to be getting new bloggers that are all in-house?)

  • MarkB

    Andrew, just a note to thankyou for your time and efforts here at Sitepoint. You’ve taught me a lot, and helped business a great deal! Good luck.

  • elviejo

    It’s a pitty to see that you are living SitePoint as a blogger.

    Thanks for sharing your thought in this past months.

  • drakke

    Thanks Andrew,

    I don’t think even you know what impact you have had. I’m going to eat up a lot of Sitepoint’s bandwidth digging through your material.

    One reason you are so effective is that is that I feel you are genuinely interested in seeing your readers do well. I think you will be amazingly successful. All the best.

  • This was the only SitePoint blog I actually read. Hate to see it go, but I wish you the best in the future.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps not always I could agree with you, but each time I had to think about your ideas.
    Thanks for your time.
    Good Luck and Happy Easter

  • Andrew, thanks for all of the articles, lessons, tips, and insight you’ve given. I think almost every last one of your articles AND blog entries has had some gem of wisdom for us. Good luck with your business and other pursuits in life. When are you writing a book? =)


  • webnology

    Thanks Andrew. I haven’t been much of an answer-guy, but I’ve definitely read and re-read lots of your blogs. It has been very interesting.

  • Just like to join the others here in wishing all the best Andrew. Looking through your list, I think you’ve already covered many of these things in detail – it’s a good round up of your time here, I think. The only thing I’m not sure of is point 11 – is this something you’ve covered?

  • “I’ll be departing Sitepoint as a blogger”…

    Does that mean that yo’ll be around here doing something else?… maybe writing a book?, maybe writing articles?…

    Anyway, I’m sure I’ll continue receiving your newsletter. I hope you won’t quit that.


  • Add my thanks to the list, Andrew, yours is the first SitePoint blog I ever started reading and up until now it’s the one most worthwhile. Someone up the line *Rocky” I think mentioned your The only thing I’m not sure of is point 11 – is this something you’ve covered?

    best regards and best of luck in your future endeavors.

  • aneitlich


    The above article is a good one for point #11, per your request. See other articles by me here by clicking my name. There’s one on thinking big and one on automating your marketing; both touch on same topic.

    Hope that helps!

  • tcwatts

    I’ll join the chorus to say how great your blog has been for me. Thank you for your generosity.

    All the best!!!

  • scattermachine

    Andrew, I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and I’ll miss them. I like the real-world approach and feel that I’ve learned something important and valuable from your blogs.

    Thank you.

  • Smanakana

    I wish this blog lasted longer. Indeed, this is THE ONLY blog on the internet that I visited regularly. I found here so many useful ‘real life’ advices. Could you recomend us any other blog that is covering this topic ‘your way’? Or, maybe, you will go on writting blogs some place else?
    All the best!

  • Thank you for your blogs, Andrew! They’ve really been great!

  • Andrew, I followed your blog since the very beginning and it was the best resource on the Internet I ever met in 10 years. Your thoughts completely changed my way of thinking. Hope you’ll continue writing and we’ll hear about you in the future.

    This is the first blog I’ll really miss. Thank you so much for being there, I wish you all the best!


  • DerTom

    Andrew, i’am from Germany and read your Blog and Articles with pleasure. It’s the first time that i write a comment.
    Your Articles where so rich of information that i always find a good answer when i needed it, even here in Germany, where things are a bit different.

    I wish you all the best and i hope that you will go on with some blog somewhere or at least on your own site.

    Be as you are, i liked that


  • I constantly find myself referring back to your blog posts, article and your e-book. The professional level of advice you give is outstanding. I only hope the blogging has brought you the results you wanted/deserved.

    Best of luck in your future endeavours though I’m sure I’ll be reading more of your articles here at SP in the very near future.

  • wildscribe

    Thank you Andrew! Your blog has helped me grow my business, and even helped put a couple more dollars in my pocket :-)

    Is there any way that you can continue to blog at SitePoint? But I can understand that researching and writing your blog takes up a lot of time.

    Best of luck, and again, thank you!

    – – Wild

  • Ravedesigns

    Andrew – thanks for the GREAT post today and for all the excellent ideas you’ve shared here over the past year! Like everyone else has said, I’m sorry to see you go and I wish you only the best in your future endeavors.

  • Its been nice reading your thoughts and advice about growing a successful web development business (or any type of busines really) so Thanks for all the hard work! I will definitely miss your blog. Hopefully somebody capable can step in and continue, but they have some awful big shoes to fill. Thanks again!

  • Andrew, it’s a great pity to see you leaving, I hope you will still hang around here, probably as a forum member :-). Back to the blog, I think profressionals believe in brand.

  • Thanks for keeping the blog running Andrew. It’s been a great year, learning a bunch of interesting and useful information from you. When I get a business up and running your material will have helped me out an awful lot.

    Best of luck with your future endeavours.

  • Please don’t go Andrew :(

    Thank you for everything and good luck in your future life!

    p.s. this is actualy the ONLY blog on the internet I’ve been reading regularly.

  • Sorry to hear you’re leaving Andrew, it’s been a pleasure reading your articles.

  • katlanding

    Thanks for your blog Andrew it’s a gem. Ive been a faithful reader for some time now. I just want to point out to all the people that have said that Andrew should write a book, that he has. Visit his site. I have it and it is the best money I’ve spent on my business.

  • You’ve done an excellant job with your blog! It was the first blog I ever read regularly. I must say, I learned more here than I ever did from any book or college course. Good luck!

  • SheWritesCopy

    Oh how I hate to see this blog end! Thank you for all your pearls of wisdom. I wish you much success in your future endeavors.

  • JMorrow


    How do feel about putting together a mailing list to update all of us on what you’re doing? You’ve built up a great fan base here, and I’d hate to see you lose contact with us all.


  • Andrew

    Thanks so much for all the time and effort you’ve put into this blog, and for what you’ve shared with us ;-)

    Are you going to start your “own” blog at all?

    And yea, that mailing list idea (above – JMorrow) would be really great!

    Thanks again

  • And PS:

    I’m not sure if this has been covered, but are the guys from Sitepoint going to keep all your blog posts archived at all?

  • This blog has been something I follow really closely as it not only opened my mind more towards a business point of view for a web business but has inspired me in many ways. I thank thee.. :)

  • Amirsan

    will the articles and blogs still be online so we can view it… this sucks, I was just about to start really following this blog. I hope I can still read these amazing posts in the future.

  • Many a posting from this blog have been forwarded/recommended to friends. Here’s hoping we can follow you after your time spent blogging for Sitepoint!

  • pasletoel


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