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AmyAllen
10-13-2010, 05:32 AM
For those of you who have been in business for awhile, how did you get your first few clients in the door? Were they people you knew? Did you try networking groups? I know a diverse marketing approach is best, but was there any marketing strategy you used starting out that was particularly effective?

Harold Mansfield
10-13-2010, 10:25 AM
I've been in business as a service provider for almost a year. Of my first 5 clients, 1 was a referral from a friend and the other 4 found me online.
It should be said that I had already had stuff online before/besides my website..articles, blogs, profiles etc.

Blessed
10-13-2010, 10:41 AM
I've been at this for about 3 years - all of my current service is strictly print design.

My first 3 clients were sales people at the printer I had worked for previously, when I left there was an agreement in place to work as a subcontractor for a year, now I still work for them, but bill directly rather than through the print shop's billing office. Most of my other clients came from referrals. I have one good client that came from a cold call I made - happened to walk into the place of business at the right time, did a job immediately and still work for them every fall on their annual book. I have done a few small projects for people who responded to a variety of print ads I've done over the past few years too.

Spider
10-13-2010, 02:27 PM
I knew who my clients would be before I started. No, not just "what kind of person or company," but actual names and phone numbers. They were all people I knew and worked with, and they encouraged me to start the business so they could hire me.

The age-old, "Find a problem and create a solution for it." I got the client buy-in before I even decided to form a company.

ParaTed2k
10-13-2010, 05:24 PM
Facebook was where my first few came from.

bizguy007
10-25-2010, 05:06 PM
I found my first clients on Craigslist, then after that it was all word of mouth

greenoak
10-25-2010, 07:56 PM
i met a guy, when i was at practically the hobby stage, and our other business was going down down...........i sold him some stuff reasonable, he did great with it, and he introduced me to 3 or 4 big time guys who were great customers for the next 10 yrs....big guys who never ran out of money...IF i got the right stuff...i was a picker ...in the first 10 yrs we went from 6000 a yr to over 80,000 a year...
we advertized long and the same thing over an over in our trade paper for years...
we are in year 32,,same location but a lot bigger...and we have had to change with the times to stay in business...
ann
www.facebook.com/greenoakantiques

huggytree
10-26-2010, 08:59 PM
my first customers were new home builders and remodelers.

I got one from a business card i left at Menards
i sent out letters to all the builders looking for projects to bid. it wasnt very polished
maybe i had 3-4 customers my first year...it was part time and i was only looking for 1-2 days of work a week.

Patrysha
10-27-2010, 02:03 AM
My very first small business local clients were a photographer friend from church who was just starting out and the doctor who delivered my third child who was transitioning into cosmetic services (laser hair removal, botox and so on...) that was seven years ago. I took a detour and went part time for two years while I played in radio sales...and my first customers coming back were already customers from my part time/radio days.

SteersR
11-02-2010, 10:13 PM
I found my very first client in Craigslist. Until now it's making it big on my part. Now I'm trying to target social media networking sites. It's very helpful nowadays in marketing your company through Facebook and Twitter.

seolman
11-03-2010, 12:56 AM
My first clients were long term business contacts. The rest are all either web inquiries or word of mouth.

billbenson
11-03-2010, 04:29 PM
An online business is a little different than most of the replies here, but I got mine from Adwords

dojo
11-11-2010, 12:01 PM
For me the first clients were some friends, but then I decided to go further and expand. Right now my clients are from all over the world and not so many from the local businesses.

GoingLocal
11-11-2010, 01:35 PM
There is common thread here that I'm also in on.

Almost all people hot their first client from an existing relationship before the business even started. My first client was a restaurant owner where I was a regular customer for about a year before I started up. From there is has been word of mouth and now more online and social media is bringing in new prospects.

And on that note, if you don't have a strong existing relationship your business can help, social media it's probably the best place to focus (facebook - 500 million users, 250 Million visits a day lasting ~30mins each on average!). Many of my peers (me included) are finding that Craigslist is becoming harder find clients and make sales from. Maybe that's just us though. (??)

bkemp100
11-13-2010, 07:09 PM
There are a number of ways to get your first client, one good way is networking by atending events where your prospective clients congregate. Much depends upon your area of expertise. There is a good book on the subject of finding clients titled: How To Make $100,0000 A Year As A Successful Consultant In Your Own Field. It is written by Jeffrey Lant, if you do an internet search you can find information on this book. I had a copy that I read so many time it fell apart but I found it to be a very valuable help in finding consulting clients.

janemerino
11-20-2010, 05:40 PM
I've always heard to start local and think globally. One customer contact or other marketing opportunity can lead to the other.

I will definitely be watching for future suggestions.

wattzy
11-25-2010, 10:50 PM
Mostly through referrals from friends and ex-work colleagues. Then the clients would refer me to other people they new needed services.