I started a software consulting practice 3 months ago. My target market is government contractors. I'm in a location that is prime for my target market (Wash.,DC). My question is I've joined professional organizations related to my services and target market; I've been to monthly business luncheons and get togethers and networked, but I still have not acquired my first client. I know it's only been 3 months, I guess I'm getting a little impatient. I feel like there is something else I should be doing, I'm just not sure what it is. Any other marketing ideas I should consider for a consulting practice?
#2. "RE: Marketing Question" In response to Reply # 0
I don't think that the current approach to marketing is "wrong". Its just not complete. The things you are doing are correct and are helpful because they keep you in contact with the people who will eventually hire you or carry your name to someone who will.
I have some suggestions that I think might help. The first is to get your own government General Services Agreement (GSA) contract.
While these contracts can be a pain in the neck to get all of the I's dotted and the T's crossed they are perpetual and GSA officers are required to use contracted providers first. They are also required by law to use woman owned or minority owned businesses first regardless of price or service. That means that if you own at least 51% interest or shares of your company then a government contract officer will be required by law to use your firm before they use a male owned competitor's business.
There are a couple agencies that you should be aware of that will most likely use your services. The first is the Department of Interior's (DOI) National Business Center (NBC).
They provide technology and business services to the DOI's bureaus including the Bureau of Land Mangement (BLM), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and United States Geological Survey (USGS). These are big powerful organizations that are always looking for contract labor or vendors of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) software. The head person there is currently Matthew Stewart. His office is in Denver, however, he runs the IT Directorate for the NBC. Bug him to death and tell him I sent you. He is due for retirement in a few months so take advantage as soon as you can.
If you want to raise your profile, you can write articles, and do public speaking for local business organizations like the Rotary, Lions Club, or Chambers of Commerce in your area. Write some articles for local neighborhood newspapers and request a simple resource box with your email and URL listed in it in exchange for the copy. If your article has mass appeal and is helpful to say home owners these papers will print it for free.
Its not that difficult to get onto local radio shows either. People overestimate the celebrity of radio spots and think that its very difficult to do. If you have an interesting article or take on a local subject, even if its controversial, submit a request for the air time. Maybe its a small business trend that has to do with your services. Anything that will hold a listener's interest in a 30 minute dialog. You can also post yourself to these folks as a good person to have on a panel discussion.
Another nice introduction to your services is to give away software. Go out to www.sourceforge.net or www.freshmeat.net get some open source packages that you can set up with a look and feel that carry your brand and give them away on your website. Make sure to give credit to the original author and follow all of the GPL rules.
Donate some teaching time to local schools or continuing education groups in exchange for press releases. Getting in the press in a favorable light is a good way to attract government business.
Also, target specific businesses that frequently contract under the GSA to the agencies you would like to work with. You can contact GSA officers directly as well. Just deal with them like you would any corporate buyer.
All the best,
"Things are difficult only while you don't understand them."