Marketing For Web Designers Collection

I have created quite a few posts about marketing for web designers and I thought it would be helpful to compile them all in one central location. Freelance web design or development can be a stressful and unsure field to be in. Most web designers want to focus on building websites or developing a state-of-the art user experience, not trying to find new customers.

Unfortunately the hard truth is that self-marketing for web designers should be your number one priority until you are well established.  Below is a series of articles to help you kick start your marketing for your web design or web development business.

How to Re-brand a website.

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Featured, Marketing, Web Design | 0 comments

How to Re-brand a website.

Re-branding is a serious and risky proposition with the sober possibility of killing your brand overall or reaping a big pay off.  In this article I will discuss why and how I went about re-branding.

For the past year or so I have wanted to re-brand and re-design this site for a couple of reasons.

First, the design is dated and not actually mine to begin with, it is a theme from Elegant themes that I have customized, but I have wanted to make something a little more personalized and simple to reflect my design tastes.

Second, I want to change the name; Web Design Business Builder may be accurate, but the URL is long and it feels sterile and not very personal or accessible.

Thirdly, over time a site can start to get bloated as you add more and more “stuff” and I would like to start over with a new baseline, again something more simple and streamlined with a faster load time.

Fourth and most obvious, I want the new site to be responsive instead of having a separate mobile theme.

The Re-branding Criteria

I began with brainstorming new names and here was my criteria that it needed to meet:

  • Shorter
  • More personal
  • Concept oriented, less objective and sterile.
  • Relevant to the topic
  • Domain still available
  • Memorable

Choosing a name takes time.  At least for me, I have to settle on something and then let it stew for a while.  Will I still like this name tomorrow?  What about next week or in a year?  Most names I ruled out by the next day and some within a week.

Finally I settled on Web Design Journey, obviously it is shorter and it still includes the words web design, which is good.

The word Journey conveys the more abstract concept of adventure.  It feels more exciting, fun and mysterious than “Business Builder.”  It also gave me a wider range of logo concepts to work with.  “Business Builder” was very limiting, which is why I never created a real logo for it.  With “Journey” I experimented with maps, a path going up into the hills, nautical tools, and more, but I finally settled on a compass.  I know, not incredibly original, but I think it looks good.

My kids really helped a lot in this process.  They loved sitting next to me to watch me experiment with different logo ideas in Photoshop and Illustrator.  I was actually impressed with their design taste.  Several times I went down a bad path and one of them called it before I realized it myself.  I would have to come back to them later and say “you were right, I was…. less right”.

I am not a speedy designer, for me, creating a logo takes a lot of time.  To get a jump start on the process I even tried two different Fiverr gigs to see if I would get lucky with something awesome.  As you may have guessed, no I did not get lucky with an awesome $5 logo.  I got one completely crap logo, that looks like they spent less than $5 worth of time on it, and another that was decent, but it turned out the concept I gave him was bad.  So one logo died from poor execution and the other from my own bad vision.

I also spent a lot of time redesigning the site, but I will cover that in my next blog post.

Unfortunately, the dot com for Web Design Journey was not available, so I have settled on webdesignjourney.net. * (I have since manage the purchase webdesignjourney.com, but for now I am just parking it on the .net)

Iterative Logo Design

Here is the original “logo” for this site.  It is really more of a non-logo than a logo.  This is what I threw on there until I could design something better, but then I never did.  Until now.

Here are the 2 Fiverr logo’s that I received.  The first one is terrible and the second was just a bad idea on my part

The Web Design Journey.png


3

Here are some of the other logo’s that I tried myself

web-design-journey-simple-path-FLAT-lrg

 Yuck…

wdj-full-logo-onwhite

Getting closer, but it needs more…

web-design-journey-logo-light2

And here is what I finally decided on

 

SEO Considerations For Rebranding; Why I didn’t do it all at once.

Originally I planned on launching it all at the same time, the re-branding, the new URL, and the new design, but I decided to do a rolling launch over the course of about 6 weeks for several reasons.

First, I have limited time to get everything set for an instant launch.  This is a side project for me that I can only work on during evenings and weekends while still making time for my wife, kids and the rest of life.  Implementing everything in steps will make it easier on me.

Second, it gives me time to react to problems, primarily with search engine rankings.  I have started to rank very high for certain search terms, such as “how to market a web design firm”, “marketing for web designers” and “how to become a web designer”.  If I make the changes slowly and my rankings slip, I will know why.  But if, for example, I change the URL and the site design at the same time, I won’t know which one hurt my rankings.

(Now it has been several weeks since I changed the URL for my site and I know that it KILLED my Google rankings!  I lost all of my top 10 spots and now I am starting from scratch… so that’s not cool.  I started to see little bit of a bump the last two days but it is still a fraction of what I was getting before.)

Third, I like to follow Agile development principles of making constant small improvements with rapid releases, instead of bundling it all into one big release.  This is a whole other topic in itself, but suffice it to say, Agile makes it possible for you to measure the impact and response to each enhancement you make so you can quickly respond to unexpected issues and the needs and desires of your users, or in my case readers.  With Agile methodologies you can test changes and then change course quickly.

Steps to re-branding and changing domains.

  • Add new domain as a parked domain, make sure everything works with it.
  • Add the new logo
  • Change the site name in the meta tags
  • Update internal references to the old domain and site name
  • Change Social Media URL’s for sharing tracking, if you want to maintain that long term  (I didn’t do this b/c I don’t want to keep my old domain in perpetuity)
  • If your using WordPress, in the settings change the WordPress domain to the new domain. (do this before the 301 redirect or you will have trouble logging into your WP site to update the internal links)
  • Add 301 redirect in .htaccess file (see below)
  • Test, Test, Test!
  • Update your Domain in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Change as many external links as possible.
  • Announce it on your website

How to Redirect your old domain to your new domain

There are a lot of bad ways to do this.  Here are some terrible ways to move to a new domain that I recommend you don’t do.

  • Keep both sites up and running simultaneously.  Worst yet, make them completely separate sites in different accounts on your server so that when you make an update to one you have to do the same to the other, or maybe you could just leave the old site up for ever and never touch it again.
  • Just put a giant “Our site has moved” message on the old site with a link to the new site.  Maybe you could even include a JavaScript or meta redirect to the new site after 10 seconds.
  • Kill the old site and put up the new site and assume everything will just go to plan.
  • Fill the background of your old site with dancing hamsters and put a a loud midi disco file that loads automatically for him to dance to.  I don’t have any clue why you would handle it this way, but I would avoid it.

What you should do involves a simple update to your .htaccess file, as mentioned above.  Putting several lines of code in your .htaccess file will not only instantly redirect your users to the new domain, but it will also notify search engines that you have permanently moved.  This is called a 301 permanent redirect  (302 is a temporary redirect).

How to Do a 301 Redirect or Rewrite

To Redirect or Rewrite? that is the question!

A 301 redirect is a simple 1 to 1 mapping.  It says “this page has moved to this other page,” and a search engine or a visitors browser will automatically go to the new site seamlessly.  If you only have one or a handful of pages to move then this is a fine way to go.

You would add this to your .htaccss file:

Redirect 301  http://webdesignbusinessbuilder.com http://www.webdesignjourney.net

However, in my case I had an entire website to move and I didn’t want every page to get redirected to the homepage of the new domain, instead I wanted each page to get redirected to the corresponding page on the new domain.  But I also didn’t want to have to write out almost 100 lines to manually redirect each page of my old site to my new site.  Luckily there is a better way.

For a more robust 301 redirect solution you can use an .htaccess rewrite.  Rewrites allow wild cards for a smart dynamic redirect.  In my case I told it that any domain other than www.webdesignjourney.net should redirect to that domain and include the rest of the URL.  So if you try to go to  http://webdesignbusinessbuilder.com/blog it will take you to the corresponding page on the new domain, http://www.webdesignjourney.net/blog

Here is the code:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteBase /

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !webdesignjourney.net$ [NC]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.webdesignjourney.net/$1 [L,R=301]

The first line turns on the Apache RewriteEngine module, which is a requirement but available for most web hosts.

The second line says that the rule applies at the root level.

The third lines is the conditional that if the URL being accessed is anything BUT webdesignjourney.net then do the RewriteRule

The forth line is the action or rule to actually carry out.  The R=301, means that it is a 301 redirect, the L means that it is the last rule and the URL is, of course, the desired destination.

You can copy/paste the 4 lines into your .htaccess file, just remember to change the two URL’s to the new domain that you want to use and remember that they should both be the same.  The first instance is NOT your old URL, it is saying anything other than this domain should be changed.

(More reference here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/14631589/301-redirect-vs-rewrite)

Conclusion

So that is how I re-branded this website.  Following the right steps in the right order will give you the best chance at maintaining your search engine rankings as well as providing a smooth and logical user experience for your users.  I am sure that there are other ways to do this, possibly much better ways, and that I missed something along the way, but  hopefully sharing my experience will help you to consider something that you may have missed other wise or give you some more options to consider.

I love to hear your ideas or experience with re-branding and domain changes in the comments below!

The True Purpose of a Website

Posted by on Nov 29, 2011 in Design Theory, Featured, Marketing, Tips, Web Design | 2 comments

The True Purpose of a Website

It’s easy for a designer or developer to lose sight of what the purpose of a website is. Most people, when asked why they have a website for their business, will say something like, “So people can find me online.” But why is it important for someone to find you online?  “Because they might go to my competitor who is online.” While that is true, that is essentially saying that you need a website because “everyone else is doing it.”

If you or your web design clients have this mentality, they will never harness the full potential of their website. They will always be limited to doing what their competition is doing.

I think there are 3 main levels of website effectiveness, each one taking you closer to realizing a websites full potential.

 

 Don’t be limited by what your competition is doing. 

 

1. The Business Card

This was somewhat popular 10 to 15 years ago as a cheap way of getting a “website” out on the web. Like the name implies, it is a single page site that looks like a business card, it has the business or organization’s name, a tag line, maybe a brief description, and contact information.

This isn’t used much anymore, but it is making somewhat of a comeback as a pre-launch page, or in directory listings like about.me. Used for specific purposes, such as for a specific event that will come and go, it can be quite effective, but this is not an end in itself.

2. The Brochure

This is the informative website. It says, “Look, this is our business, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is how you can contact us.” This type of site has been in use since the web’s early days, but it is still ubiquitous throughout the Internet. Chances are, many of the websites you have made fall into this category.

When most small business owners think of a website, this is what they are envisioning.  Unfortunately, this type of website falls short of the full potential and benefit that they could get from their website.

So at this point, I ask again: What is the purpose of your website, or the websites you build for your clients? Both of the above types of websites have the same problem… they are passive.  They sit on a server waiting for clients to search for whatever service you offer and hopefully come across your site. They are passive in that they assume that your visitors are already sold on needing your service, so they have come to your site to see if you can meet their need.

Yes, this does happen, but many times visitors come to your site merely curious.  Maybe your client is a realtor and a visitor comes to their site because they are considering selling their house and looking for a new house.  Or your client is an estate planner and their visitors have heard it is a good idea to draw out a will, but they aren’t convinced.  A passive website will do nothing more than inform them that maybe if they decide to buy a house or create a will in the future, this is someone they could consider.

This isn’t enough!  The purpose of nearly any website should be to influence the visitors.  This influence could be as simple as convincing them to believe in an idea or a cause, but it should go a step beyond that and actually influence them to action.  For businesses and organizations, ultimately you want them to purchase a product, subscribe to a service, or join your organization.

 

 Design to influence and influence to action! 

 

This “influence” shouldn’t be open ended, it needs to be direct and guide them to a very specific action.  This is a “call to action,” maybe you have heard of it?  This brings us to the third and most effective type of website.

3. The Sales Funnel

Each page on your site and each aspect of each page should be created with the idea of influencing the reader and drawing them deeper and deeper in, leading them to a call to action.  The deeper in they go, the more time they have invested and the more influence you have already had on them, and the more likely they are to take your call to action.

Examples of a call to action are asking visitors to share your site on a social network, comment on a blog post, subscribe to a newsletter, download a trial version of software, or simply “buy now.”

Keeping this simple idea in your mind when designing a site can easily increase the effectiveness of everything you make by ten fold:  Design to influence and influence to action!

Speaking of this, what creative means have you seen or used yourself to call a reader to action?  Leave your feedback in the comment area below. 😉

The First Priority of Every Web Designer!

Posted by on Sep 27, 2011 in Basics, Customer Relations, Featured, Marketing, Web Design | 13 comments

The First Priority of Every Web Designer!

Here is what most web designers think their first priorities are.

1. Having a kick-butt computer
2. Having every possible graphic and web development program
3. Creating THE best portfolio ever
4. Getting lots of traffic to their website
5. Setting up a good office space
6. Learning every possible cutting edge Photoshop or jQuery trick
7. Being the first ever to do ___________ in HTML5 and CSS3

And so on and so forth…

So, which do you think is the right answer?  What is most important? The correct answer is… none of the above.  They are all dead wrong.  You can have a mediocre 5 year old computer, you can code everything using Notepad, and design graphics with Paintshop and still be a wild success if you have put the first priority first.

On the other hand, you can create the most amazing portfolio ever, traffic can flow into your website like tourists at Disney Land, you could have prime office space downtown, know every photoshop and jQeury trick, and you can even write a book on HTML5 and CSS3… but if you don’t have the number one priority first, then you will fail.  In fact, at this point, it will be an Epic Fail.

all of your knowledge,
all of your state of the art hardware,
all of your HTML/CSS/Javascript tricks,
all of your cutting edge software,
all of your photoshop tweeking,
all of your hard work, time spent, and plans made will come to nothing.  They are pointless…. useless… distractions…

Have I made my point enough?

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come!

So what IS your number one priority as a web designer or developer?

Your first priority as a web designer or developer just happens to be the same as any business… to make sales, in your case, to sell websites!  Without making sales, you are just spinning your wheels.

This is especially important in your first year or two, or until your business machine is somewhat self-sustaining.  The 80/20 rule is a good guideline.  You should be putting 80% of your time into selling and 20% into everything else.  Sounds crazy, huh?  When will you ever get anything done?

Most new web development businesses spend most of their time on brushing up their skills and learning new technology or techniques.  This is good and important, but most never break out of learning into doing; but if you want to make a living out of it, there is no point in doing it if you aren’t getting paid.  This is where sales comes in, remember?  Getting paid?  Making money?

Your website isn’t like a baseball diamand that you build in a corn field.  Just because you build it doesn’t mean that they will come.

In order for your business to become self sustaining it is vital that you reach a Critical Mass of Qualified Customers as quickly as possible.  Until then, your business will be a daily struggle just to survive.  Once you reach that Critical Mass of Qualified Customers (CMQC), you will finally have the momentum to relax a bit.  At that point, you will have built up enough steam to be able to focus more on doing the actual work of creating sites.

So, before you start running ads in your local newspaper or put a bunch of money in your Google Adwords account, consider the last half of CMQC, “Qualified Customers”.  Not just any customer, paying customers.  Customers who are willing to pay more in the future.  I may write more about CMQC later.

So, what do you do next?  First, download my free lead generating guide that will get you 1,000+ targeted web design leads in no time flat!  Then take a look at my ever growing collection of articles on how to find more web design business.

Download My Free Lead Generation Guide

Get a jump start on finding thousands of web development leads by downloading my free guide. You will also receive the Web Design Quality Control Made Easy guide. No risk, no spam, just help from one web developer to another.

Think I am crazy?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

Social Network Marketing for Web Designers & Developers (Part 2)

Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Social Networking, Tips | 0 comments

Social Network Marketing for Web Designers & Developers (Part 2)

In the first part of this article I gave the first 2 tips on on how to use social networking to market your web design or web development business.  The first tip was to Be an Expert, NOT and advertiser!  We are constantly exposed to 100’s of advertisements each day.  The overall effect is that we have been programmed to ignore 90% of it.  That is why advertisers are always trying to find someway to catch your attention and stand out from the crowd.  Often this is in the form of sex, violence, and humor.  But instead of advertising at all, share meaningful, relevant and informative information related to your target market.  Become an expert in their eyes, so when they need web work, you are the first thing that comes to their mind.

The second tip was to Be Consistent, marketing isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon.  Apple doesn’t put out a commercial for the iPad hoping that you will see it once and then assume that you are ready to buy.  No they want you to see the ads a hundred times if possible.  The constant exposure is what slowly works into your subconscious and helps you decide that you really do need to have an iPad.

Now let’s dive into the final four social network marketing tips for web designers and developers.

3. Be Relevant

Many have tried social marketing only to have it fail because they have been told how important it is to personalize it.  This is true and false.  You don’t want your tweets or Facebook posts to sound like some machine is pumping them out, but no one wants to hear about the cute thing your dog just did or where you are eating dinner or what TV show you are watching.

Yes you want to make things personal, but keep it ‘business personal’.  Focus on what is important in building a trusting relationship with your potential clients.  Stay on the topic of the importance of websites for small businesses, new Internet technologies that your clients may be interested in, and possibly projects you are working on (while maintaining the privacy of your clients when needed).  Always keep your end goal in mind.

4. Be Integrated

Your marketing should be structured like a spider web.  Every aspect should connect to the others.  This isn’t just true of your social marketing, but all apects of customer interaction.  If you are using both Twitter and Facebook, make sure you point them to each other.  Any print ads you run should include links to your website and social network pages and ID’s.  Your business card should have your LinkedIn profile.  Your LinkedIn profile should point to your Facebook page, you should Tweet about a post you just added to your wall on Facebook.  Facebook should include video’s from your YouTube channel and EVERYTHING should point to your website.

You want your customers to see your engaging content wherever they go.  Each point of contact will entangle them more and more in your web.

5. Be unique

There is no point in following you on both Twitter and Facebook if you just repeat the same things in both places.  Each channel needs to provide unique content and give your potential web design clients fresh reasons to follow you.  Not only will unique content keep them engaged, but redundant content will annoy them.  The last thing you want entering your audiences mind is even the smallest incling in the back of your mind that you are spam.  Of course spam has come to mean any unwanted intrusion into our space.  We deal with Spam by deleting, hiding or un-following the culprit.  This leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of who you hoped to pick up as a client.  You have lost them before you even had them.

6. Be Confident

Don’t doubt yourself.  Chances are what you know seems obvious to you, so why would anyone else want to hear about it, but that is because you already know it.  What seems apparent to you may be unknown or confusing to someone without your skills, experiences and technical knowledge.  What used to stretch your mind has, through practice and experience, become your baseline of knowledge.

Don’t discount the value of your baseline of knowledge to benefit others.  Most small business owners are too busy running their business to learn very much about web sites and online marketing.  What you have to offer is of great value to them.  Sharing this knowledge through your social networks and blog will guarantee that potential clients not only come to you for their online business needs, but they will come to you with a respect for your opinion.

Conclusion

I promise this can pay off in big ways, but I also know that it is a LOT of work and you are probably wondering how you can possibly have the time to do all this while still maintaining your web development business.  At this point most web designers don’t know where to start because the mountain looks too large to climb so they put it off and never get started at all.  This is where I can help!  You can get started right now by downloading my free Social Network Marketing Guide for Web Developers and Designers.  This guide gives you step by step instructions on how to setup your account, what to say, how to get massive amounts of followers and most importantly how you can automate the entire process.

So take action and get started now by entering your name and email address in the form at the top right of this page.  The sooner you do this, the sooner you will start pulling in new customers and getting more business.  You will also get a free copy of the Web Design Quality Control Made Easy guide to help you test your websites.

<< Back to Part 1 of Social Network Marketing for Web Designers & Developers

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Social Network Marketing for Web Designers & Developers

Posted by on Aug 17, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Social Networking, Tips | 2 comments

Social Network Marketing for Web Designers & Developers

In the last five years marketing has become amazingly small.  I don’t mean unimportant.  I mean that in the past, the big contenders with seven-figure advertising budgets would buy advertising time on TV, radio, and print newspapers or magazines.  Marketing was big then.  Smaller businesses tried to do the same things, only on a smaller scale.  Advertising on local TV and radio and purchasing ad space in local newspapers.

For the first few years of the Internet, it followed this same model.  You bought advertising space on the highest traffic websites you could afford.  But now the tables have turned, and marketing has become small.  Now, all of the big contenders are clamoring to do exactly what you and I do everyday.  We post things on Facebook and Twitter and upload videos to YouTube everyday.  It is an unprecedented turn of events in which everyone now has access to the same advertising channels that the biggest companies in the world have.  This is an incredible opportunity for the small guy to compete in ways that we could never have dreamed of before.

So the big question you are asking is how can I use this as a web designer or web developer, right?  Here are 6 tips on how to use social networking to market your web design or web development business.

1. Be an Expert, NOT an Advertiser

I just saw someone today trying to use Facebook for marketing with short posts like “Use my services today!”  Really?  That is all you have to say?  Nothing to at least set you apart from anyone else in your market?

Instead of filling your social marketing channels like Facebook or Twitter with advertisements for yourself that nobody cares about, start talking about web design in relation to your target market.  If you don’t know what your your target market is, look back at my last article.

I recommend adding a blog of some type to your website and then use the social networks to drive traffic to your blog.  So let’s say your target market is bicycle shops.  You can start giving general business tips through Twitter about how vital a website is for small businesses to market themselves to pull in new business.  Then you can sprinkle in information about how a bike photo-gallery can be used to feature new bikes, or mention some plug-in that will show local bike trails in Google Maps right on your websites.  The tweets can link back to your websites where you include more detail.

The main advantage to this system is that your potential clients are drawn in by the useful content that you freely give away and as they read it, you establish yourself as an expert in their mind.    At the same time they are being exposed to all of the advantages of having a good website… well it just so happens that you can provide them with just what they need!

2. Be Consistent

Consistency is a huge part of any marketing campaign!  Putting out 30 tweets in one day and then being silent for 3 weeks will get you nowhere.   Social marketing isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon.  You have to pace yourself and spread your content out through each day and throughout the week, over the course of months.

Not only will this keep you from burning out but it will ensure that the most people are exposed to your tweeting and posting.  Most people don’t sit in front of Facebook or twitter 24/7, and almost no one has enough time to read every tweet and Facebook post that comes through their feed.  No, they start at the top and work their way down, following various rabbit trails, and maybe they make it to the bottom, of the page, but many things get pushed off of the page before they have a chance to read it.

Your consistency of putting out helpful online business and marketing tips over time will solidify your name in the minds of your readers as a go-to person that they hope will be able to do business with them

Continue on to Part 2 >>

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The Worst Marketing Mistake Web Designers Make

Posted by on Jul 28, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Tips, Web Design | 4 comments

The Worst Marketing Mistake Web Designers Make
We all have an amazing opportunity to grow our businesses through marketing, and it is vital that we don’t squander our efforts on the wrong things.  Too many people get marketing wrong because they don’t focus. 

The worst marketing mistake that web designers and developers make is not intentionally targeting a specific market that they can best serve.

How To Define Your Market

The first step to targeting your market is to define who it is.  It can help to try to think of your ideal customer.  You can get as detailed as you’d like, including their age, gender, income bracket, hobbies, or even the type of car they drive.  This is called your niche avatar because it puts a face on who you are trying to reach as a client; you can even give your avatar a fitting name.  Let’s call your potential avatar Bob for now. 

It isn’t that you are locked into only having Bob’s as clients, it just helps you to think about what appeals to Bob when you are putting your marketing together.  What are Bob’s needs, his wants and desires?  What does he lie awake at night worrying about?  How can you help Bob?  Of course a lot of Bob’s needs will be the same as Susan’s or Jose’s, and you can certainly take their business, too — but you are targeting Bob.

Another guide in defining your market is to look at your current and past clientele.  Sort out the ones you wouldn’t want to work with again and narrow down the top 20% of your clients.  What do they have in common?  If you want to get as detailed as having an avatar, they should probably look something like these top clients of yours.

Eliminate who you are not targeting.  I can make some broad general assumptions about who you are not targeting right now.  There are not a lot of kids or teenagers with need or resources to require the services of a web developer.  Scratch them off your list.  Chances are you will only do business with those you share a common language with. Scratch the majority of the world who doesn’t speak English or whatever other languages you speak off your list.  (I am assuming you speak English since you are reading this now.)   See, already we have eliminated 90% of the worlds population.  If you want to focus locally, you can scratch off anyone outside of your city, state or region off your list.

You can see how narrowing who you want to reach with your marketing can drastically reduce the amount of money and effort that you need to put into it.  “But doesn’t this decrease my chances of getting business?”  NO!  It multiplies your money and time because now you are more likely to reach potential customers by tailoring your message to actually speak to them!

Now, further define your market by what they do, what kind of business they own or work in, who their clients are that they hope to reach with their website.  Where do they go, both online and in person, that you can market to them most effectively?

Targeting Your Market

A million people may see that billboard ad, but only 100 of them are interested in your services, despite the fact that you paid good money to reach 1 million people.  Instead, find a way to reach 1,000 people where 200 of them may need your services or reach 20 people where you know every one of them will need your services…. I think you get the point. 

By targeting your market you will have a better Return On Investment (ROI).  This will free up your time and money to finish more products or invest in new software… or go on that vacation you have been dreaming of.

What do you think?

 

Using Referrals to Get More Web Design Business

Posted by on Jul 11, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Tips, Web Design | 0 comments

Using Referrals to Get More Web Design Business

Word of mouth is the most potent form of marketing at your disposal.  Having your web design business recommended to potential clients by someone they trust and already have a relationship with is more powerful than any other type of advertising.  Referrals give you instant credibility.  If you aren’t harnessing the raw power of this form of marketing, then you are leaving money on the table.

How a referral system can help you:

1. Referrals are very effective. A potential customer is 2 or 3 times more likely to follow the advice of a referral rather than any other form of mass advertising when they have need of web design services.

2. Referrals business is inexpensive. It can cost you as little as nothing.  If you do pay for referrals, you only pay for actual business you get, not just potential business as with other forms of marketing.  So, it is a win-win, either way.

3. Referrals can make you more money. Not only can you make more money because of adding clients, but referral clients are usually more trusting and willing to purchase more services, which contributes more to your business long-term than clients you get through other means of advertising.  When you quote a referral your price, there is less of a flinch since they have already been told that you are good and trustworthy.  You don’t have to work as hard to sell them on the value of your services.

4. Referrals are a good business practice.  You will work harder for each client and give them your best knowing that they are your best source of new income over the coming months.  It creates a perpetual self-sustaining cycle of offering great service and getting more business as a result.

Helpful Guidelines for a Referral Program

1. Only ask your top clients for referrals. When someone talks about you to their friends and colleagues, you want them to be excited and thrilled with the service you offered them, not just so-so.  A lukewarm referral is as good, and maybe worse, than no referral at all.

2. Don’t ask for the referral right when you finish the work. They have just paid you good money, and you gave them a fair service in return; that isn’t the right time to ask for a favor.  Instead, follow up a week later and make sure that all of their needs were met.  This will impress them.  Then, a week after that, contact them about offering referrals.

3. Specifically ask your clients to give you referrals. Don’t just hope that they do!  If you ask, you will receive, but if you don’t ask, then don’t count on anything.  Sure, you may get an occasional referral, but nothing that will be reliable, and certainly not business-sustaining.

4. Be overly grateful and generous. If someone sends you a referral, at the very least, send them a thank you card.  Including gift certificates to the local theatre, bookstore, or coffee shop, or if they aren’t local, to Amazon.com, is a great way to show thanks as well.  This will put you in their mind as someone they like to do business with, and they will be all the more likely to recommend you again in the future.

Implementing A Web Design Referral System

Why bother with a system?  Because if you don’t it will likely not happen.  If you don’t have a set, defined path, then this will be another thing that gets overlooked and forgotten about.  You will do it the first couple of times, but then it will drop off the radar.  So after reading this article, write out the action items that you will follow with each client and a timeline for following it.  Here are some ideas to implement in your referral system:

1. Set up calendar reminders for yourself to do the 1 week followup and the 2 week followup with your clients that I mentioned above.  You can start with any client you have completed in the last month.  Set up a recurring half-hour reminder each week and group these followups all together.

2. Consider using a set reward system. I mentioned above using gift cards as a thank you, but you can incentivise the whole process by offering a percentage of each sale or a set reward for every thousand spent.  This may seem expensive, but remember that you wouldn’t have gotten this business at all without someone referring the client to you.  It is still more cost effective to reward clients for referring actual paying customers than to gamble on mass marketing.

3. Create personalized referral business cards or fliers that your clients can give out.  This makes it easier for them to spread the word about your services, and it is something tangible for the referred client to remember you by.

4. Look into automating the process. I haven’t tried this yet, but you could include personalized codes on the cards/fliers mentioned above.  When a customer uses the code to contact you on your website, they could get a discount, and you would know who referred them. As with anything, the easier it is to do, the more likely people will be to do it.

5. Consider working by referral only. I have to admit that I didn’t think of this one on my own but got it from this link.  On your card, flier, and website include something like:

By Referral Only

 

By Referral Only…means: We invest 100% of our time and energy to delivering first-class service to our clients. As a result, our valued clients, suppliers, and friends refer their family, friends and work associates to us for advice on buying or selling real estate. We’re interested in building strong life long relationships one person at a time.

I like how this creates a red velvet rope around your business that tells potential clients that you only work with the best because you are the best.  This puts you in demand.  You are no longer the desperate web designer, just scraping by looking for any scrap of business that comes your way.

In this scenario, you want to be sure to tell your clients what kind of customers you are looking for when you ask them to refer you, again adding to the sense of your high standards.

How have referrals helped you in building your web design business or what methods have you used that I didn’t mention here?

A Simple Method to Get More Web Design Business

Posted by on Jul 6, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Tips, Web Design | 4 comments

A Simple Method to Get More Web Design Business

Here is a quick, easy and cheap method that anyone can use to give their web design business a quick shot in the arm.  With this method you can spend one or two hours worth of your time and no more than $10, and have a very good possibility of making thousands from getting just one new client.

Focus Your Web Design Marketing

Again, thinking locally, like in the last Web Design Business Builder article about Marketing for Web Design, pull out your local yellow pages or business phone directory, and choose a category like accountants, coffee shops, financial advisors, bicycle shops, attorneys, car repair, etc.  Go through a page or two of ads and pick out a dozen or so names where either 1) their website is ugly and old or 2) they don’t have a website at all (confirm it by searching Google using their name and city).

Direct Marketing On a Shoestring Budget

Next, draft several letters.  In the first letter, introduce yourself and your services.  If they did not have a website, mention how you noticed that they didn’t.  If they did, mention that it might be time to consider upgrading their website, or redesigning it.  Remember, be tactful and graceful!  No one wants to hire someone who just called their website, designed by their nephew, ugly.

In the second letter, continue to mention your services, and you might add something like, “You might not know that we also do…” Here you can mention online marketing, logo design, or another similar service you offer.  But the real point of the second letter is to announce a new 25% off sale, or some type of special, to respondents who mention this letter.  Tell them how they have been specifically chosen as an ideal match for your services, which is true, since you found their business in the phone directory and determined that they either don’t have a website or have an ugly, old one.  Sounds like a perfect match to me!

In the final letter, announce that they only have 24 hours left to claim the 25% off sale, and if they act now you will also include a free SEO package ensuring that Google will search their site and increase their chances of a high ranking (never promise ranking results with SEO).  It doesn’t have to be SEO, but throw in some kind of value-added service that you are good at and will catch their attention.  Also mention that if they aren’t convinced, they can contact you for a free, no-commitment, no-risk, half hour website consultation.

You can go all out and send the letters through physical snail mail.  It is, of course, much easier to use email, but less likely to be read. If using email DO NOT send this to more than one person at a time!  We are talking about only a dozen businesses; it won’t hurt to take a little extra time to send each email separately.  They don’t need to know that you are also targeting 11 of their competitors.  Space the messages about 2 to 3 days apart, but finish the series within one week.

Using postcards and direct phone calls is another spin on this method that I mention in this article about starting your web design business.

The advantage of using this method is that it costs little to nothing, and since you are targeting a certain industry you can personalize the template that you use for each set of letters or emails that you send out.  Also, you can do this over and over and perfect your letters or emails to be as effective as possible.

I present this as a quick way to get more business, but really it shouldn’t be used in isolation.  It is most effective as just a piece in a larger puzzle.  The larger puzzle would be made up of a holistic strategy which I am laying out in a series of blog posts.  If you would like to learn more about this, you can subscribe to my newsletter at the top right corner of this page.

In my upcoming articles I will lay out the full puzzle piece by piece, including the following:

  • Using Referrals to Get More Web Design Business
  • Maximizing the Lifetime Value of Your Clients
  • Never Lose a Customer by Keeping in Continual Contact
  • Using Social Networking to Attract More Business
  • Turn Around and Sell These Marketing Strategies to Your Clients

Marketing For Web Design: How To Get More Business

Posted by on Jun 28, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Tips, Web Design | 18 comments

Marketing For Web Design: How To Get More Business

How to get more clients for your web design business is THE big question and is often a freelance web developer’s greatest worry.  Designing websites is a dream job, but if you don’t have clients paying you money then it doesn’t seem much different than my kids hoping to find work as video game testers.  I promise you, it is different, and you can make a very good living designing and developing websites. (more…)

Think BIG! Not Just a Website, Not Just a Web Designer

Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Featured, Marketing, Web Design | 5 comments

Think BIG! Not Just a Website, Not Just a Web Designer


Ten years ago, a website was thought of as just another channel to market a business, not much different than a newspaper or Yellow Pages ad, only with more information and color. Then along came blogging and Facebook, Twitter and Google ads. No longer is a website a lone island or just another piece in the puzzle.

Too often web designers or developers get trapped into thinking small. As an independent website creator you are not just a code monkey or a pixel pusher; you are a business consultant. A business may come to you thinking that all they need is a website, but it is your job to open their eyes to the possibilities.

A website is just the beginning. It is just a beginning to your client and it is just a beginning to the services you offer them. I can’t name the number of clients who have come my way thinking that all they need to do is put a website on the Internet.  More recently, many people have heard of SEO, and it’s even become a catch-phrase, the supposed end-all solution to having a successful website for your business. If a business’s website can just get a good listing on Google, it will take care of all their Internet business needs, or so the thinking goes.

It is our job as business consultants to explain to our clients the need, not only for a website with good SEO, but also for social networking and advertising, if appropriate. Before rushing out to consult clients, it is important to have a business strategy already in place. When a client takes that step with you to create or revamp a website, you should already have a strategy to help drive traffic to their website and convert it to sales.

This strategy needs to address four needs in the following order:

  1. How to drive traffic to the website
  2. How to catch the attention of that traffic
  3. How to keep traffic
  4. How to convert visitors to sales

Wait! Stay with me now. Just because I used the word “sales” doesn’t mean this doesn’t apply to you. I know there are plenty of times that you will make a website that isn’t apparently “selling” anything, like for a non-profit organization, or an informative website, BUT the whole purpose of any site is still to sell something. The something may not be a product bought with money, it could be an idea that you want someone to “buy into” or a church you want someone to attend, but the point of any website is to sell something.

 

Design should never say, “Look at me.” It should always say, “Look at this.”

— David Craib

 

Each of these steps deserve their own blog post (which I may do later), but this should get you started.

First, you must have a plan to drive traffic to the site, because without traffic all of the rest of your efforts are pointless.  SEO is important, but it isn’t the end game to bringing visitors to a website.  It is only the beginning.  Consider some kind of strategy for your clients using Facebook, Twitter, blogging, topic articles, and Google AdWords.

Second, once you get visitors to the site you have to catch their attention.  It only takes most people a couple of seconds to decide if they are going to stick around or not.  This is where the graphic design aspect of a website shines.  The first purpose of design is to catch the readers’ attention.  Make sure the site you are designing contains graphical elements and not just text.  The easiest way to add engaging graphics is to purchase stock photography.  It used to cost hundreds of dollars to purchase a license for a professional picture!  Now you can do it for only a few dollars at istockphoto.com.

Third, now that you have caught their attention to take a look at the site, you have to convince them to stick around by having great content.  This also kills two birds with one stone, because quality, relevant content also happens to be the cornerstone of all good SEO.  Of course, your client will probably need to provide this, but if they aren’t very hip on writing a lot about their area of expertise, you might consider interviewing them and writing it article-style.  Or you can hire someone else to write at a place like elance.com.

If you have made it this far, then you are golden.  If you were fishing, the fish is on the hook and now you just have to reel it in.  Make sure on every page you have some kind of call to action “Call us now” or “Click here to buy” or “Join us Sunday Mornings at…” or “Fight along side us by emailing your congressman at this address”; something that encourages the reader to take action.

By understanding and implementing this process, you will turn your client’s website into more than just a website.  Their website will be a central hub for marketing to generate leads and sales.  And this will turn you into more than just a web designer!

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.  What strategies or methods have you found successful in providing a more cohesive service to your clients?

 

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