What are the best ways for a start-up partnership to attract clients?
Starting a Business mentors Paul and Sarah Edwards repond to the following question from an inc.com user: Two others and I, all with accounting backgrounds, have started a partnership. We have accomplished the basics -- a business plan, a budget, talking with marketing and advertising folks, etc. What are the bests ways, with economics in mind, for a start-up business to attractclients?
Paul and Sarah Edwards' response: Because you are a partnership, you have the advantage of being able to capitalize on the strengths and capabilities of three people and thereby employ a variety of marketing methods. The old way of thinking of a "Mr./Ms. Inside" and a "Mr./Ms. Outside" to handle the marketing is largely replaced by the realization of the importance of the Web and methods like mailings whose success depends on statistical measurement of results. The more "social" partners will likely do better at face-to-face networking in business referral groups and in business and trade organizations such as the chamber of commerce. Since your business is apt, in large part, to be local, one or more of you can even use a method we describe in Getting Business to Come to You -- walking the neighborhood or area, introducing yourself to storeowners and office personnel, leaving your business cards.
While one partner might not be at ease in groups of people, he or she might be comfortable developing relationships with what we call "gatekeepers" -- individuals who are in the position to refer prospective clients to you. For you, this might be bankers and financial planners.
If one of your partners is something of a "show horse," he or she can create visibility for your firm and attract clients by making speeches and offering workshops on topics related to your specializations.
Becoming known or visible comes about as a result of doing multiple things that reinforce one another to produce the effect that when your firm's name comes up in conversation, someone says "Oh yes, I have heard of them. They sure seem to be up and coming."
Even more important than a display ad in the yellow pages -- which usually takes months to get into distribution -- is your company's Web site. Even if your site serves as no more than an "electronic brochure," it is how potential clients can find you and get answers to preliminary questions they have about you. Of course, you can use a Web site for much more, such as publishing newsletters and creating a message board for clients.
Keep in mind that the more active you all are in a variety of ways in accord with your special capabilities, you won't need to wait for the phone to ring to attract clients.