Sunday, August 9, 2009

Marketing your Design Business - Resist the Urge to Propose on the First Date

Picture this: You've just met someone you really like, and your imagination's conjuring up all kinds of future scenarios of happy days spent together. It feels so right to you, you're just brimming over with the urge to get started right now on your new life together . . . But wait. What's wrong with this picture?

That's right. You have no idea how your new friend feels about you, or marriage, or anything else for that matter. So before you jump head first into the pool, you'd better test the waters and get to know each other. What will that take? Time and shared experiences.

Think about this the next time you're tempted to mail your entire brochure and every press clip ever written about your firm to a prospective client who's never heard of you and may or may not be interested in your services or product. There are several good reasons to resist the urge to do this:

First, you'll overwhelm them with more information than they have the time or interest to read and absorb.

Second, people will be much more receptive to your message if they feel you're familiar with their needs and interests. If your first communication with them is all about how great your firm is, they won't see how their needs fit into the picture, and they'll be on the defensive or simply disinterested.

Third, potential customers won't actively respond to your message until they've heard about you anywhere from five to nine times. This is because they need to feel that you're consistent, dependable, and reputable before they'll take the risk of engaging in a new business relationship. (Sounds a lot like life, doesn't it?)

Since your marketing message will be most effective if it's repeated over time, consider extending the life of your promotional materials by mailing one piece each month, with a cover letter relating the mailer to your prospect's interests. If you mail everything you have in one bulky first-time package, it won't get the attention it deserves and you won't have anything left to send out next month.

Fourth, brochures and folders and postage are expensive. If you keep your early mailings light, you'll save money and avoid sentencing your marketing materials to an early grave in your prospective client's paper-recycling basket.