A Practical, Jargon-free Guide to Survival
by Terry Gordon
Terry Gordon started his career in the Marketing and Advertising Industry, before deciding to move into training and consultancy. Much of his work over the years has been concerned with helping small and medium-sized businesses. He has worked in further and higher education as a head of department and also lectures in business related topics at one of the UK’s leading management training centres.
Being well-organised may keep you ticking over, but it will not guarantee survival. That is where marketing comes in. This article offers a series of tips to help you make sure that your business will survive and grow.
Offer the Right Service
What can you offer? To survive, your quality of work needs to be as good as the competition. The best proof is to have a portfolio of your projects that clients can look at. Without this, they only have your word, and this doesn’t usually inspire enough confidence in your skills.
(Tip: Concentrate on what you are best at - this will build you a reputation for top quality work).
Charge a Realistic Price
If you charge too much, clients will look elsewhere, so you need to do some research to find out what other businesses charge and to price yourself at a similar level. But don't be tempted to price yourself too low. Clients associate price with quality and won't always go for the lowest price.
(Tip: Contact your clients as a potential customer asking for a quotation on a job).
Deliver the Goods
Make sure that you deliver on time and in the right format. Deadlines are there for a reason, so try to meet them. And remember, you are the expert - the client may need advice on format. There is no point in delivering a Pagemaker document for Apple Mac if the client has QuarkXpress on a PC.
(Tip: If you cannot meet a deadline, let the client know before the deadline, not after).
Define Your Typical Client
The more specific you are, the easier it will be to contact the right clients. For example, a graphic designer might target advertising agencies and specific types of local businesses.
(Tip: If your customer base is broad, break them down into smaller segments that you can contact separately e.g. retailers, industrial estates, housing estates, offices, different types of businesses, etc.).
Contact Your Clients
Ask yourself where your clients would look for a service like yours. For example, a graphic designer might do a mail shot to agencies and businesses using directories from a library as a source of addresses. A document production freelancer might put posters in libraries, colleges and universities.
(Tip: You may need to use different methods for each segment).
Decide What to Tell Them
Clients need to know what you can do and that it fits their needs. Your project portfolio will be invaluable once contact is made, but initially you need to reassure your clients that you do quality work at a realistic price, delivered on time. It helps if you have a Web site they can visit.
(Tip: Never quote prices in an advert - it is better to use broad statements like 'reasonable prices'. You can discuss details later).
So there you have it. A quality service that matches the needs of your clients; a price that they are willing to pay; the ability to meet deadlines; and adverts in all the right places. How can you fail?
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