That is a well known quote from Alan Sugar on the Apprentice TV programme and I, for one, can testify to the truth of it.
Over the years I have tried many ways to advertise my business; Yellow Pages, telemarketing, mailshots, email campaigns, ads in directories and journals, editorials and even radio. For my business, they’ve all proved to be a waste of money.
The only responses I’ve had to ads in directories and journals are from people asking me to put an ad in their directory or journal.
I’ve had some success with telemarketing but it’s hard work, although I have had reports from other web developers who’ve had better success than me. It’s probably down to the company you use to do the telemarketing. Similarly, I’ve had some response from Yellow Pages but not enough to justify the expense (isn’t it strange how you always seem to be situated on the boundary of 2 or 3 Yellow Pages areas which bumps up the price if you want decent coverage?).
The only thing that seem to work for me is networking. Get out there, spread the word and meet people. Networking groups like BNI, 4Networking, BRX and Chambers of Commerce are the places to go. Most organize breakfast meetings where you can meet like minded people.
BNI worked the best for me but the format is not to everyones’ taste. It’s very formal and rigid. But if you can find a good chapter, you will get business. 4Networking is good because you can pay for, what they call, a passport membership which allows you to attend any of the meetings around the country. It’s great for a business who’s client base is spread around a wide area. Chambers of Commerce have worked the least for me and I’ve been a member of three different chambers over the years. I think they work for some types of business but not so well for mine, I’ve found.
Last but not least, of course, is the internet. Whatever your business, you should have a website. When you meet people in your travels you can hand them your business card with your website address on it. People tend to look online these days rather than using Yellow Pages. You can get a small website set up for less than a year’s subscription to Yellow Pages so, for any business, getting a website should be a no-brainer.
Even if you can’t live without a Yellow Pages ad, set up a website, reduce the size of the Yellow Pages ad and point people to the website from there. It will be a lot more cost effective.
So there you have it. Find out about your local networking groups, get out of bed and get out there and network. You’ll not only find it gets you business but you’ll find it lots of fun and you’ll meet some interesting people.