When I started freelancing ten years ago, I had to do my marketing the old fashioned way.
Granted, Linkedin was launched in 2003 and then Facebook in 2004, but I hadn’t heard of them. I was too busy trudging my local neighbourhood with freshly designed flyers, pinning them in every library and appropriately placed shop front I could think of.
It was hard work and frankly, I still think marketing is hard work, despite the wonders of the Internet and all that social media marketing has to offer.
But I do think that the old fashioned way gave me some well needed guts, a solid foundation to build upon. While I have of course embraced social media marketing, I have learned that getting off line and getting out there among your prospective clients is the best way to find new work.
It’s full, hands on, in your face marketing, but it’s served me well over the years.
It’s good to talk
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to talk. I much prefer talking to emailing. So much so, that when I first started out, I compiled a list of prospective clients and simply phoned them to ask if they outsourced.
It probably sounds positively archaic to any slick marketer out there and I did receive a fair amount of ‘no’s’, but I also received enough ‘yeses’ to make it worth my while. It’s still my preferred approach, and then I’ll follow up favourable responses with an email.
I also attend as many networking events as I feasibly can. I think that the more opportunities you can find to talk to people, the better. Even a casual chat with someone on the school run or at a local social event can turn into a promising ‘lead’.
The Internet has of course made it possible for service providers to serve an international market, but equally, there are plenty of local opportunities that can land you more work.
Think of local businesses you could offer to promote, who will be willing to promote you in return. Events you could sponsor, or talks you could give at local educational institutions as an expert in your field. These are all excellent opportunities that will help to raise your profile locally.
Offer more, get more
Ultimately, it’s only through talking that you get to find out what businesses need, and only when you find out what they need can you offer it – which is where I think cold calling works beautifully.
It doesn’t have to be a full sales pitch on the first call, but simply a friendly conversation to find out whether typically the business outsources what your offering is likely to outsource in the future, and if so when? It might take more than one conversation, but at least it puts you in a perfect position to offer what your prospective client needs.
And when you do find out what they need, why not offer a free consultation service as a taster for them. When you’re starting out as a freelancer, it’s a great way to gain experience and build up your portfolio at the same time. It’s equally useful if you’re a seasoned freelancer with your eye on a particularly lucrative project.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And you need to be there to ask for it!