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How to Market Yourself as an IT Consultant

Hi everyone,

After 10+ years of working in the IT business doing System Admin jobs, Help Desk, Network Admin jobs, IT security, military IT, etc, I am doing consulting.

I have worked as a field tech at a managed services company and I do the occasional residential IT work for friends, family and sometimes people I meet or are referred to.

I am not much of a sales/marketing type and I am a bit stuck on how to build a customer base. I would like to target small/medium sized businesses but wouldn't mind doing residential customers either.

I have a website, a few servers, experience in Kaseya, connectwise, zenith, etc so I think I'm good infrastructure-wise but I'm not sure what else to do. I've created fliers and posted them on mail boxes and bulletin boards. I've used google adwords to advertise the website and that got a few customers but it gets pricey. I've also done facebook advertising and I have a business facebook page as well.

What else is there to do? I was thinking about going door to door but I really hate sales and most small businesses have no solicitor signs on their doors anyway.

Any suggestions?

Any help is appreciated.

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illhelpu
Asked:
illhelpu
6 Solutions
 
GDavis193Commented:
You can try joining your local Chamber of Commerce (there is a fee) but it;'s a great way to network.  If you perform good work ,word of mouth gets out quickly.  I work for a small IT Consultiing firm and we are members of 2 local Chambers and have managed to obtain about 25% of our client base from them.

Word of mouth is what will get you the most business however.  Also, having a managed services business model will go a long way towards securing clients.  Many clients do not like the 'unknown' of what their IT expenses will be month to month.  With a managed services contract - they know exactly what they will be paying monthly and can budget accordingly.

Hope this helps...
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TonyRebaCommented:
You can Use craiglist too.
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wolfcamelCommented:
there is an organisation called BNI - which is international but it can hook you up with other local businesses.

The trick is getting people to REFER you.
Talk to the customers you have, and tell them you are on the look out for a couple more customers (dont sound desperate), tell them the type/size of client you are after.

Also, try rewarding your customers for referring other businesses.

Letter box drops work better to business - offering something like a free IT audit
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ken2421Commented:
illhelpu,
Great question. Tough answer.
I have been in my own business for 16 years now. In the beginning it was while I worked full time and I moonlighted. My best customers all came "word of mouth". They still do. Advertising has not been particularly effective for me. That said I hand out business cards everywhere I go. I give more than one and plainly "ask for referrals".

I keep and email list of all my existing customers and eblast them with things that might be useful as well as specials. Recently I did remote desktop tune up special for $25 bucks. I have go to assist. So I sat at my desk and dialed in with my customers on the speaker phone with me. Once under the hood it all took care of itself. Upgrades. Virus and Malware. Network Maintenance, and more. More importantly the folks I sent the $25 offer to told and still tell friends to call me and see if I will offer them that. If I can't dial in it is a service call. If I can they get 15 minutes of support for $25 bucks. I will do an hour for $65. I am in my underwear and I am making money.

Now I prefer the Network Admin calls that I can bill out full and I get them. There is just so much competition that you have to get creative. When I am in a building for a commercial account I ask them to keep a few of my cards. I offer them a free hour or something for a referral. Most of them will be only to glad to help if you ask. I hate asking. I hate asking for money. I do them both because I like working for me.

Sorry for being so wordy.
Good luck,
Ken
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illhelpuAuthor Commented:
Hey guys thanks for all of the great answers and suggestions. They are very much appreciated and seem very helpful.

I checked out the chamber of commerce around me and they are a bit pricey..$350 per year..ouch. It is tax deductible though so when I get some extra cash I will join. I may try to find a town nearby that is cheaper as well.

It seems like word of mouth is the way to go. I need to figure out how to expand in that area. the freebie/deals sound like a good way to do it.

All of the comments are awesome. Keep them coming if you don't mind, this is really helping me with ideas.


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madunixChief Information Security Officer Commented:
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notacomputergeekCommented:
The chamber is a good way to go, but you get out of it what you put into it, so go to many of the events.

Many organizations have monthly meetings. Find groups that you can cater to (such as Society of Petroleum Engineers) and provide cookies or donuts for the meeting along with business cards or labels.

If you're in a larger city with a United Way, contact them and offer some of your services for free or reduced to their member agencies.

Word of mouth is how my business has grown. The key is to keep providing excellent service to your existing customers and they will tell others. Don't focus on the $, focus on the client.
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illhelpuAuthor Commented:
Thanks Guys!
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