I bought a 30x40 portfolio case, filled it with my best work and had 500 2-color business cards printed. Simple, but nicely designed.
Then, all i did was take my portfolio case anywhere I went. Even if just to the supermarkt. And then put some stuff you often need IN the case, like wallet, keys, mobile phone..
This gives you an excuse to open your case often. preferrably with a lot of people around (bars, restaurants fairs etc. ..)
Without fail, somebody would start looking over your shoulder. If one has the guts to do so and he gets a positive reaction from me, immediately anyone else will want to have a look..people are curious
Let them browse through your book a while, and then somebody might say...hey, I have a friend who has a company that....
BINGO! Give him a card, be nice to him and go to the next spot for more fishing. Even if only one in 20 actually call, it'll be worth it, it only costs a little time
This is how i built up my client base from scratch the first year.
Brilliant idea Pixelmover! Not just the portfolio idea, but how you implemented carrying it everywhere and creating the need to open it where people are. Thanks for that tip!
That's the kind of thing I was hoping for when I started the thread. Things people could use when they're just starting, and don't have the extra dollar to spend. Cool idea.
Looking for inexpensive color postcards?
The portfolio idea is a nice one especially because you've talked with people in person and made them feel comfortable with you.
I designed a postcard (image is in another thread somewhere) with a before and after pic, list of services and other relevant information (black and white back). Created a database of companies/organizations that would use my services (I was lucky I already had a client base from the previous business I worked for that folded) and added new names by searching the internet and on-line yellow pages.
I bought 500 full color postcards for $95 from www.modernpostcards.com. I just checked and the price has gone up to $125 for 500. However, if you ask them to send a sample package they send a discount card so your first order is less and reprints are at a reduced rate as well ($90 vs. $125).
Even at $125 that's 25 cents a card plus another 22 cents (?) for a postcard stamp and a printed label. So for about $275 you can reach 500 people.
I sent out about 400 cards and kept the last 100. These cards I send out to people that call up on the phone, hand out to friends, potential clients and even the photographer that shoot pictures of my house for a magazine article (she took them to her buddies at the camera shop she deals with).
People love getting the postcard because it's got an example, all the services and the contact information. It's an elaborate and impressive oversized business card basically. And they aren't turned off by it like they would be an expesive business card because they are too busy looking at the pictures and appreciate the list of services so they don't have to call up later and ask...."Do you do.....?"
Anyway I'm almost at the point of getting rid of my business card all together and just using the postcard. Anyone know the per card cost of a simple printed business card? I think the little extra is probably worth it.
I also am listed in the yellow pages. I don't have an ad just the one line listing that is included with a business phone. In fact it's one of two reasons I have a business line at all. The second reason is so I don't have to answer the phone after hours and my husband doesn't have to talk to my clients. It costs me about $45.00 a month for the phone line and honestly I don't get that much business from the yellow page ad. I think people don't know what to look under because there are only two people in town listed so there isn't much competition. I think more people call the photo shop, gallery, framer, museum etc. and get a referal first.
Don't forget the old website. With a bit of work and a few bucks you can make a nice on-line portfolio. Provide people with information not just an ad to give them a reason to come back to the site and you will get work out of it. Remember to list the website on stationary, postcards, business cards etc so potential clients can browse examples of your work at their leisure. You may not be able to see how much business is influenced by the website but for the little bit of cost it's worth it. www.tudhope.net
And finally....probably the main way of getting business is word of mouth. Treat your clients nicely and they will tell others and come back themselves! It's also the cheapest method!
Personal calls are a great way to check out the "lay of the land" before you start a business ...but make an advertising plan for the future as well.
Once you start a going business, time becomes your main asset and making outside prospecting calls is much too time consuming. If you have no other source of advertising, you can easily get into the cycle that I mentioned in my previous post.
Old adage: "I'm too busy going broke to make any money" :-)
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