After listening and reading some recent material, I found out there is a large segment of the small business population that is not yet online. That being said, for those that have the abiilty to design a site, there is a potential large amount of money to be made (both in setup fees and monthly hosting fees.)
With the advent of technology, this is not only a local or regional possibility, but, one could develop sites 3,000 miles away with no issues at all.
That being said, the most effective way one could design would be by making phone calls. 100+ calls per hour could definitely close a sale or two a day.
However - I HATE COLD CALLING! What are some other ways to get clients?
I thought of using car magnets - and, I have a friend who drives delivering frieght - I could put signs on his van.
What are some other ways?
I would question your conclusion that phone calls are the best way to go, especially since you hate cold calling. After all, when was the last time you actually listened to what a telemarketer was offering? I know I tune them out, tell them I'm not interested and ask to be added to their no-call list.
I wouldn't worry about people 3,000 miles away when you are just starting. Start local. I hate cold calling, as well, but found visiting businesses and letting them know about my services and leaving a business card was much more successful and well-received.
Another way I received lots of business was holding classes on a specific topic for a relatively low cost. This brought in people to learn, I was able to demonstrate knowledge about a related subject and many people used me for my specialty(computer networking).
If you have some customers, sending a hand-written thank you note makes a huge impact. When we did this, we sent a refrigerator magnet for the customer, several business cards and requested they refer us to people they thought could use our services.
You can't get much more low-cost promotion than those and the bang-per-buck is enormous.
Excellent advice and also encouraging to me because I don't like cold-calling or direct selling, especially when it's my own services. Glad to hear about another ordinary person being successful. Don't know if I can muster up the courage to host a class yet, but I can definitely walk into a business and introduce myself and leave helpful info and a business card.
Sorry - I didn't clarify about telemarketing. Some people I know have been immensely successful with telemarketing for this project.
I thought about getting magnets for the vehicles that my wife and I own that advertise the service - with a phone number and a website. How effective do you think that would be?
I personally think that you have to do some work to convince these people that they actually need a site to begin with. I do web design & development too, and have clients all over the country.
But I think the first thing that you need to do is find out why they don't already have a site? You also have to figure out how you're going to provide a quality product at a low cost that is actually going to deliver value. Inexpensive is one thing, a quantifiably valuable asset to a small business is quite another.
There may be much more involved in demonstrating the value of a QUALITY web presence than meets the eye.
That being said, I would start by using Dan's formula for a creative job search and turn it in to a creative client search. Otherwise I think you're going to be disappointed and discouraged. If you've done any research in to sales, the ROI on cold-calling is just about as bad as it gets. Ask yourself - how many times have YOU responded to a car magnet or ad on a delivery truck? I don't think those things would justify the costs.
I'd rethink your strategy for targeting these kinds of clients. Guerrilla marketing for free would be a good book to pick up. My friend Justin Lukasavige wrote this post covering these kinds of things a few months back. You might find it helpful.
Car magnets and signs will produce little to zero results, in my opinion. Okay, I'd almost bet that they produce zero results. I've tried them for my service businesses, and I think I've had maybe one or two people approach me off of them in close to a decade. I've tried vinyl lettering on windows as well, to no avail. In your particular business, I would think it would be even less effective, but that's just my best guess, for whatever that's worth.
Advertise yourself by creating your own site and performing the SEO needed to be the guy that comes up when people are looking for web design in your region. Post on craigslist under the "services" category, advertising your design service. If you have what it takes to be a host, then start a website to advertise that. Look into possibly selling your services on ebay, or design some generic sites yourself and then sell those sites on places like ebay.
Have you designed websites before? Do you have a portfolio? How could you build one if you don't have one? Your own websites can probably be one of your best advertisements, because the fact that one doesn't have their own site for their business doesn't mean that they aren't online. You need to position yourself so that they can find you. Find local message boards and become the guy that everyone asks for web design questions. I do that myself in my service businesses, and have picked up quite a few clients because everyone knows that I'm the "car detail guy" or the "cleaner" on the forums. So when they have need for one or a question, often I don't even have to chime in because others know me by now and point them my way.
I agree with Jacob about holding a class or free mini-seminar. You can really turn people on to the areas that you can help with. You should ask them to sign in and follow-up with a letter, free info, newsletter, etc. Mix this with a website full of useful free info with an emphasis on the benefits they'd gain from having a website. These are proven sales techniques that do not require cold-calling.
I would recommend creating an "authority" site where people can learn about web sites, design features, why you need to pay attention to search engines, etc... oriented towards small businesses.
Create a blog, post weekly and maybe even consider a podcast. Develop an email list for those interested in learning more. Over time (and it does take time) you will develop a following of ready clients on your email list and blog who will be want to do business with you.
Its passive selling - you only occasionally need to mention your services/products, but it does work and it does not require any cold calls. I have a business based on this model where I blog weekly and podcast every other week, and has been growing at over 50% a year for the last three years. I've never called anyone except an occasional podcast guest, I don't have any bill boards, I don't even have any business cards. My presence online speaks for itself and the content attracts and keeps customers.
Hey there sir,
I have found a website - www.homestead.com - that will allow you to have an account for $19.99 a month. You get up to 3 websites, I believe, but, each additional is only $2 per month. It costs $2 (or is it $5) to register a domain name. Building websites is very easy on there - just point/click and drag/drop.
Most companies - i.e., Dave's Plumbing - will need to make no/few monthly changes - so, you'll have to do little to no work to maintain.
Having talked to a sales rep last week, I found out they will even let you get a Credit Card reader that you hook into your cell phone that will automatically charge them the agreed upon monthly charges and then deposit it into your account (for normal credit card fees.)
We go through similar situations sometimes at my day job, which is a print shop. Customers don't have a print ready file and they may question our art stup fees because they "just want a business card with some text," but once we get into size, color, positioning, etc. and the creativity or indecision (or both) starts flowing, there can be lots of back and forth. When the piece is a postcard with pictures or a brochure or book, there are even more aspects to consider, change and review. We let people know up front that their price includes a certain amount of changes and proofs for review, just like Danny is suggesting. Being prepared and communicating clearly along with knowing the customer is the key. I think it's worth it to ask questions of those who have no clue to get an idea of what they want to accomplish, what image they want to project, who they are trying to reach, etc. They usually know their customers and their business. If you can understand those things somewhat, it can help you guide them to the right elements.
Sometimes we decide for expediencey and sanity to narrow down the options we present to a customer for design, fonts, paper, etc. This eleminates being overwhelmed or spending too much time musing, especially when the customer is already indecisive or simply has no clue and is depending on us for expert advice. In the end, it's good for both parties. Of course, if they inquire about other options, we will discuss or show them, and if it involves a higher cost, we let them know that so they can decide whether to pursue that route. -- Which reminds me, it always helps if you can find out their budget. If you are an honest guy, which I hope you are, you can use this info to determine the parameters of what you offer to do for them so you don't feel taken advantage of. If they want more, you simply explain you're happy to do more for X amount more.