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Any marketing people there? I need advice about advertising

(27 Posts)
clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 15:32:03

I don't want to spend too much, but feel I need to advertise my I.T. support services, cos I could do with more business (and income).

I have an ad ready for the business section of our local paper, which would cost me £240 to run in the business supplement each week for 3 weeks.

Is this a cost-effective way to spend £240?
Do I just have to try it to find out.

Can anyone point me to some info on effective marketing?

Iklboo Thu 11-May-06 15:36:08

DH has just started his own driving school (in franchise with one of the less well known ones). They gave us loads of posters to put up. NOT ONE CALL. I had some cards printed at one of those "25 business cards for £2" machines you see in shopping centres & supermarkets. 10 calls in 2 weeks.
I suppose it depends on where you live - an ad in our local paper got us zero interest.

clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 15:37:47

Iklboo

Where did you put the cards?

MrsBadger Thu 11-May-06 15:48:05

Have just done the second push for DH's business, and my immediate thoughts are:

who's your target market?
IME local businesses don't bother reading the 'business' section of the local paper. In fact I don't think anyone does.
Do your customers wait at bus stops / read trade journals / go to trade shows? Do they all (eg) get their printing done at the local print shop where you could leave a wodge of cards on the counter?
If you're marketing to the general public, where does your potential-customer demographic shop / drink coffee / hang out?

If you have a smallish target market (eg local accountancy firms, local plumbers or whoever), swallow your pride and do direct marketing.
We had a good success rate from sending Christmas cards we'd run through the printer, so the righthand side read 'Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, from [business name]' and the left hand side had the logo and the fivepoint précis, and a business card in the envelope.
It means the girls in the receiving office put the card up and the business card into the rolodex (or equivalent) and the name started to permeate their consciousness... so when in Feb someone said 'oh, have we got a contact for xxx service' they'd go 'ooh, yes, I saw a card from them...'

And if you don't have a five-point précis, it's a really, really useful tool - use it on everything bigger than a business card / letterhead so people know what you're offering.

phew - will stop rambling now!

Iklboo Thu 11-May-06 15:50:30

Local newsagents windows (20p a week)in a couple of different areas, college notice boards etc.

clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 16:06:14

Mrs Badger,

My market is local small businesses, and sole traders, deffo NOT all general public (I'm afraid I don't want to start sorting out why computer games won't work, that sort of thing)

I've thought of direct marketing. Do you mean flyers. How do I find who to send them to?

I've been in I.T. for 20 years, but never had to do my own marketing before. My previous clients all came with me from previous jobs and word of mouth, but 4 years of working on a very reduced basis due to childcare means I'm starting from scratch.

meowmix Thu 11-May-06 16:11:45

marketing IT services = my specialist subject!

get yerself a yellow pages and build a marketing list. Then either flyer them or write them a nice letter setting out your stall. OR call direct. If you go the letter route then invest in good quality paper - a nice weight rather than flimsy - its representing you so has to look really good. If you're feeling very determined then tailor the letter so it reflects the sector they're in - ie "the stresses of running an IFA can be overwhelming which is why you need my IT support" or "Solicitors require maximum security and compliance so...." suggests you know their business without really.... having to.

Also worth checking out any chambers of commerce/business link/business groups locally as thats a great way to make contact with people. Or if you have existing customers ask them for recommendations/case studies/quotes and go after their other suppliers "Hi - we both work with x and I was wondering if....."

Good luck

hub2dee Thu 11-May-06 16:15:08

If you feel able to, you could possibly do an awful lot worse than dropping a business card to a potential customer by walking into their shop (for example) and saying 'my name is blah. I've been working on PCs for 20 years. I'm round the corner. If you need any IT stuff sorting, or a PC dies on you, feel free to call. Here's my number.'

clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 16:20:09

meowmix, thanks for your comments, and wishing me luck. I'll follow your advice. Will my ad be a waste of money then?

Hub2dee. you know before motherhood I'd have done that easily, but my confidence is much less now. Maybe I need to spend a few days on grooming and building my confidence then try it.

meowmix Thu 11-May-06 16:23:20

not necessarily but its a longshot - I mean do you read those pages?

hub2dee Thu 11-May-06 16:30:38

Just think how 1000% desparate people are when their PCs go belly up, clumsymum... if you're there at the right time, or they feel you are genuine, you will have a warm reception !

... And if you had the confidence before kids, you are only a little rusty, and it will return once you've had your first little taste of being bold !!!

Good luck !

Oh, and one other comment - IMHO rather than necessarily saying 'IT services' or 'PC repair' etc. it can be good to specify some common services as the odd keyword will make people think 'I need clumsymum':

'Viruses removed; firewalls installed; wireless networks secured; Windows upgraded; data recovery from dead hard drives; Excel and Word macros; troubleshoot flaky networks; establish on-site and remote backups' etc. etc. etc.

clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 16:33:43

Here is what the proposed ad would say ....


I.T. Support for small business

We can help you set up a database, design spreadsheets, run a mailshot, design your brochures/flyers and many other services. We offer one-to-one training on Microsoft Windows and Office, at times to suit you at your home or office.

Wanting to computerise your accounts? We can help install, and set-up opening balances, layout invoices and statements, and more. All small-business accounts packages supported.

We have over 20 years experience in I.T. and small business support.
We care about your business, and have a professional yet friendly approach.

Reasonable hourly rates charged.

MrsBadger Thu 11-May-06 16:48:29

thanks for all the details clumsymum - got much more of an idea what you're doing now Sorry if I was snappish in my first post - was just trying to get as much information down for you as possible!

I think meowmix's idea is fastastic, and hub2dee's face-to-face plan is great if you have the front!
The list of keywords that hub2dee mentioned is kind of what I meant by a 'five-pont précis' - an easy to take in list of services so the client can see instantly what you do. This is the kind of bullet-point list I'd use in a print advertisement rather than narrative-based text.

I think there are cheaper avenues worth exploring than the advert in the local paper, but they will take time and inegnuity.
For what it's worth, I think there is a huge market for the servcie you're providing, especially for non-desky sole traders (plumbers, builders etc), and I wish you every success in the adventure that is selfemployment!

clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 17:02:22

Cheers Mrs Badger, you weren't snappish at all.

I'm sure that there is a market for what I can offer, it's just plugging into it that is difficult.

I'll do a flyer with a 5-point precis, and see if I can find out how to distribute it effectively.

I see myself sticking them under the wipers on tradesmens vans in the street.

crunchie Thu 11-May-06 17:24:43

Personally I agree with the others who say the local rag is a bit of a waste of time. Where does it go? To people in their homes, not people AT WORK.

What I would do is look at targeting your potential audience while they are at work. Therefore Hubs - walk in and talk to them idea is great, if they have a 'shop front'. The problem is most small businesses don't have a shop, doorway youcan find easily. The yellow pages is a good start, trawl through, perhaps picking up one type of company you can target at a time. EG today I will call on Solicitors. Then do some cold calling, ring and ask who deals with IT. If they have an IT manager, then they won't need you. If they say - oooh me! Bingo

hub2dee Thu 11-May-06 17:30:20

If you go for tradespeople's () vans, I'd be specific - plumber's, electricians, builders etc. "need your accounts on your PC ? Need your contacts synchronised to your mobile ? Need e-mail on the move ?" etc. (I'm sure you get my drift) as well as the 'ordinary' text.... just to show that you understand their specific needs IYSWIM.

Re - your text... I might go with 'at work or at home' to avoid the repetition of 'office'
... also possibly consider listing some of the big account packages you can set up as they may have heard of other businesses etc. which use it ("Quicken, Sage, blah - all packages supported).
... also possibly start your text off with a question - 'Tired of doing it all yourself ? Computer experts with 20 years small business IT experience can help you set up a database....'

HTH. Only comments - please don't think that anyone's feedback will necessarily be better than what you propose... much of this is down to personal style etc...

hub2dee Thu 11-May-06 17:35:27

ooooh.. nice patter crunchie...

Spending 10 minutes having a brainstorm on what a particular client group needs, or the packages they use will pay BIG dividends when you speak to them...

For example, solicitors seem to do a lot of dictation / transcription, so if you're on the phone you can enquire if they're using the latest blah or if they need dictionaries set up etc. etc. or you can mention in a piece of direct mail that you can set up secure digital filing systems for document authentication (etc. etc. I'm just ad libbing but you get my vibe)...

Twiglett Thu 11-May-06 17:45:31

think its a waste of money to go in business pages .. especially on a local level

I'd just take your business card into local companies .. follow up with a letter to the person you met

Alipiggie Thu 11-May-06 17:52:54

I would also go the Direct Mail approach. Keep your target list small, and as said here, make the mailshot concise and to the point, good quality letterhead makes a lasting impression. Make it appear personal rather than computer generated, so if that means ringing and asking for the name of the Office Manager or personal responsible for IT, do so. It does work. Yep that means sign them yourself. Then give it about a week and follow it up with a phone call to the person you wrote the letter to, even better try and make an appointment for a face to face chat about your services. Once you've got an in to a company referrals are going to happen. I've worked in both IT and marketing so had experience from both sides of the coin so to speak. Good luck, I'm sure you'll be a success

zippitippitoes Thu 11-May-06 17:54:14

what I need is a computer health clinic...ie to deal with routine sprucing up and advice (well woman clinic), getting rid of old bits and pieces and making it run efficiently (seeing the nurse )..finding out what is actually wrong that i keep getting an error screen on booting up (gp), and an emergency service (A&E)

clumsymum Thu 11-May-06 20:31:46

Oh great feedback here, I'm picking up all the bits I can. I'm also going to visit a few of the local small accountancy practices, see if they need any help, or if they would like to refer me to any of their clients who may need help (I'll pay a referral fee, of course).

Zippi- where are you ? anywhere near Nottingham?

threebob Thu 11-May-06 20:53:34

Please don't spend 240 quid until you have walked in and talked to people as others have suggested. Using this method and then referrals from people that have used me (unrelated field to IT admittedly) has kept me quite as busy as I want to be.

And don't forget that every time you get your hair done or get a key cut to mention what you do.

I go out in my logoed clothing a lot - not because I like it, but because people say "making music fun - what's that?" and I usually end up making a contact. Because they have asked the question - they are in control.

Charlene1 Fri 12-May-06 11:51:19

Can you get a reporter round from the paper to write about you? Smile nicely for the piccy, and promise lots of future advertising if they print it and it works?

MrsBadger Fri 12-May-06 13:32:05

ooh yes, local paper

I would think it might even be worth an article - 'Local Mum Sets Up Own Business' is more interesting than many of the headlines in my local rag, and they always seem to be desperate for news of any local goings-on.

nannynick Fri 12-May-06 19:46:19

When starting out, always aim for FREE publicity where possible. So issue a press release to local media, trying to give some kind of an angle to hook their interest. For example, think about what makes your service different from the others?

Are there local Women in Business groups in your area? Could you join those and go to their networking events to chat with other business people. Any other local businss groups you could join?

Does your website list well in Google and other major search engines? Would Google advertising work - if you bid on the right key phrases, it can cost very litle to get quality traffic.

Can you offer something for Free? A computer health check perhaps?

Are you trying to target a specific area, for example a radius of say 5 miles from your home. If so, then use directories to list all local businesses... work out which of them could be potential clients and then call, visit, pop a postcard/flyer through their door.

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