Subject: Re: Practical Thread: Advertising to businesses
From: DV Henkel-Wallace <gumby@henkel-wallace.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 13:48:41 -0800

     Date: Tue Mar 4, 2003  13:10:56 EST
     From: Faber Fedor <faber@linuxnj.com>

     One thing that surprised me is that several people approached me
     off-mailing-list and said they have been lurking in here (some for
     years?) looking for practical information on how to run their fsb
     but were disappointed not to find much.

Well, remember that a mailing list is a community, and you get out
what you put in.  If you lurk, you get messages about what the
non-lurkers want; this has been mainly messages by people who have run
FSBs.

So your messages are just as welcome, even if there haven't been so
many like them.  Though I must say much of what you ask isn't all that
FS-specific.  From what I can learn about linuxnj, that Small Time
Operator should have tons of useful advice (if you do decide to get
it, of course please do not buy it online).  I just looked and the
book is still in print.  In fact there's a new edition out; check out
the publisher at http://www.bellsprings.com/small-time-operator.htm .

Another investment I highly recommend is the Dale Carnegie sales
course.  It's hokey, and somewhat expensive, but it's really worth
it.

     So, on to my first "Practical Thread" subject:

     One of the things I've been struggling with is "how does one
     advertise to find more clients?".

Actually an ad agency isn't going to help you until you have a
message -- in your case a position.  Your message needs to work with
existing clients and work to get you more.  Once you understand what
your business is about, then (potentially) can an agency help you get
it out.

     [Faber has tried the local CoC, business groups, Kiwanis, but they
     aren't his customer base.  They _are_ running the kind of business
     he'd like to be.]

     Is it just a matter of scale like the difference between setting
     up and running a personal email server as opposed to setting up
     and running an email server that handles 1M of messages a day?  Or
     am I missing something?

Actually it's the difference between running a personal web server vs
an email server that handles 1MM messages/day!

It seems to me that the people you're working with _are_ the right
ones -- to learn about the stuff you're asking us about!  You want to
run a business like theirs?  Ask them how they did it!  Take them to
lunch or whatever works for you and them.  Do they work with the kinds
of customers you want?  How did they acquire them?

To get more leads: every industry is different.  That's one reason to
go vertical.  For some, tradeshows are good; for others ads; for
others conference appearences, whatever.  Since your ads attract the
wrong kind of lead, _don't use that kind of ad again!_.

How did you get your current customers?  Do you track all your leads
(to see which ones convert, and if not, why not)?  Do you cold call?

I went to your web site and I see you're at a conference.  That's
great.  But I notice that you pitch to the already-sold prospect.
Maybe that's appropriate -- maybe the only people who come to your web
site are those who want Linux support.  Or maybe it doesn't work.

For example: you mention that the local CoC folks are all convinced
that Windows is the best thing since sliced bread.  Well, are they
prospects or not?  After all Windows _is_ the best for them because:
  - It's cheap
  - You can get inexpensive consultants anywhere.
  - It runs the apps they need.
  - etc (e.g. you can easily set up exchange for a 5-person office).

But on the other hand, perhaps it's not the right thing:
  - Servers are easily compromised
  - Can't easily integrate something they need.
  - etc (e.g. Linux server licenses are cheap -- $0).
Wouldn't they love to have access to the same high-quality server
technology that companies like Amazon use rather than low-grade
products that fit them into a box?

So your web site may be starting out on the wrong foot.  Hell, I don't
even want Open Source or "get more out of [my] computers."  I just
want stuff that works and that I can poke at to do what I want.  Free
software is what does that for me.  But I want FS because it gets me
what I want, not the other way around.  I suspect your customers feel
the same way.

Enough for now,
g