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8 Ways to Find Clients for Your Desktop Publishing Business

Marketing and Promotion Techniques

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Try these marketing techniques

When first starting out, networking, free publicity, and basic advertising are your first recourse in finding new clients and marketing your freelance design business.

You've just opened your doors for business, anxiously awaiting that first customer. Chances are they aren't going to be beating down your door right away. Here are eight tried and true methods for new desktop publishing businesses to find new clients. Choose those that you feel are most appropriate to your business and the clientele you want to attract.

1. People You Know
Don't be shy about letting your friends, relatives, neighbors, the guy who mows your lawn, your Avon Lady, and every one else know about your new desktop publishing business. Give them your card and/or brochure. Explain what you do. Give them extra cards and ask them to pass them around to people they know. You might find new clients among old friends.

  • Since some of your cards may be given to people whom you've never met and haven't had a chance to talk with, consider putting coupons or additional information on the back of your cards to help entice them to call.

  • Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get clients. Once you start getting clients, treat them as 'People You Know' and ask them to refer new clients and tell people they know about you. Offer them a referral fee (for example, 10% off labor costs of their next job if the referral becomes a customer).

2. Networking
Join local networking or small business groups or the Chamber of Commerce in your area. Some of the perks include free or low-cost advertising in their publications, business card exchanges, and other ways to meet fellow business owners who need your business. Often group members offer discounts to fellow members so you can also get good prices on services that you need.

Today's online social networking is also business networking. You don't have to use them all but at least take a look at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media. Use it to interact with existing clients, future clients, and fellow designers.

  • Don't overlook the value of networking with your competitors. They may need to subcontract work from time to time or may be willing to pass along your name when they are too busy to take on new clients.

  • Make contact with related businesses. The local quick printer could refer clients who need extra design help. Local copywriters may have clients in need of someone to make their words look pretty.

3. New Businesses
New businesses need business cards, brochures, letterhead, forms, and other materials. If they aren't a desktop publishing business, they need you to design those things for them. Check the public records in your county for new business applications (incorporation, assumed name applications). You can approach these companies by a combination of cold-calling and direct mail.

4. Makeovers
There are plenty of materials out there that could use a facelift. Sometimes the person or business using those items doesn't realize how much better it will look with your expert assistance. Do a makeover of restaurant menus, sales fliers, ads, or other materials you encounter then present the original and the makeover to the business to show them what kind of magic you can work. Sometimes seeing their own materials transformed is more convincing than the finest portfolio.

  • Some business may not take kindly to having their materials critiqued (especially if the owner or a family member created it). Present the change as an "update" or simply as an alternative layout rather than saying "Hey, look how much better I made this ugly brochure look."

  • There's always the possibility the business owner might take your design and use it as is or hand it over to someone else to recreate. If this concerns you, avoid leaving behind your mock-ups. Make an appointment to sit down, discuss the makeover, and turn the prospect into a client. This forum discussion presents pros and cons and alternative approaches for doing makeovers.

5. Web Site
Put up a Web site to market your business while you sleep. You'll have to market your Web site itself as well by getting it listed in Web directories and search engines but it can be your silent partner in the search for clients. And if you set up a Web site along with various social media profiles, such as Twitter, you can use them in tandem to increase your reach.

6. Free Publicity
Learn how to write effective, compelling press releases and send them to all the appropriate media outlets in your area.

7. Leave-behinds, Bulletin Boards
Grocery stores, laundry mats, post office box rental places, and many other types of businesses often have bulletin boards or even counter space where you can leave stacks of business cards or post fliers describing your service.

  • Design fliers with the little tear-off tabs that include your phone number to post on public boards.

  • Create fliers that focus on one specific aspect of your business or are tailored to the audience likely to see your materials in that location.

  • Change fliers periodically. Consider seasonal themes.

8. Yellow Pages
Consider an expanded listing, or if you can afford it, a yellow pages ad. Yellow pages may not be the right choice, especially today. However, you need to consider where your customers are looking for the type of services you provide. Those who are not Internet users may still turn to printed business directories to find the products and services they need. It may be a little old-fashioned but in some locales it's still heavily used so do some research.

    Some cities have multiple yellow pages or business directories put out by competing businesses. Before you pay for a listing, find out the coverage for each book (all over town or just certain areas, how many copies distributed).

Next Page > Your Action List

Freelance Design > Start a Desktop Publishing Business > Finding Clients

Doing Desktop Publishing & Graphic Design
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Jobs: How to Find an Entry-Level Design Job or Internship
Business: How to Start a Freelance Desktop Publishing or Graphic Design Business
Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started:Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software:Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Tips & Tutorials:How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing
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