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Advice on getting new clients? (small business)

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Aleksander ØdegårdAdvice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 27, 2010 at 7:20:15 pm

I am a 24 year old man, living in central Norway.
I graduated from my film- and TV education about 1 1/2 years ago.
Since then I´ve been freelancing for the local branch at the Norwegian broadcast corporation as well as running my own small production company, trying to focus on corporate videos.

What I´m struggling with is the transition from being a now-and-then freelancer for other production companies etc, to getting my own clients.
Now that times are tough, some of my other work may be in "danger" of disappearing, and I have to rely more on my own business to make ends meet.
I´ve been searching for clues and asking people I know for advice, and for the most part I get the same message: "you have to give it a few years and see how it goes".

What I´ve done to market my self so far:
- Contact potential clients through phone and email.
- Facebook-page and twitter account updated with news, clips and stills grabbed from video to show what I´m up to.
- Google ads aimed at my desired group of clients.

Does anyone here have any advice on what I could try to increase my chances of getting my very own clients?

As things are today, I´m hardly making a living as a videographer and therefore need for things to pick them selves up so I can keep doing what I love, capturing nice images, 25 or 50 at a time.

Aleksander Ødegård

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grinner hesterRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 27, 2010 at 7:49:17 pm

I'd say experience will do ya good. I see many try to skip the proper steps of staffing until ready to freelance and freelancing until ready to start their own business. It walways translates to umployment with an overhead. Starting a business in any field with less than a decade of experience is giving all the competition a huge leg up.
This is not an if you build it they will come industry. It's a you'll know when it's time to venture out on your own because you have a line of clients waiting for you to do it kind of industry.

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Aleksander ØdegårdRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:04:54 pm

Thanks for answering.
I´m not familiar with the situation outside Norway, but in general, it´s pretty much impossible to get full- or part time employment (maybe unless you are an producer or director).
During my time in the business so far, I have learned a lot and my employers and existing clients are very happy with my work.

When giving advice, keep in mind that Norway is a small country with about 4,6 million people, and my hometown has about 300 000. That means options are a bit limited.

Aleksander Ødegård

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grinner hesterRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 27, 2010 at 9:59:25 pm

Options don't limit man... man's initiative or lack of does.
That said, be happy every time you relocate to increase your salary and opportunity for growth.

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Nick GriffinRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 27, 2010 at 8:22:39 pm

Aleksander -

This is a topic that's discussed here in many posts and a number of articles. So the first piece of advice is to spend a couple of hours delving back into the previous posts for the past several years and look through the articles for still more substance.

The basic principals of getting new clients seem to be fairly consistent across oceans and cultures: the business client invariably comes from the perspective of wanting to know "what's in it for me?" It's like asking for a raise as an employee. Telling the boss about your own needs -- living expenses, car payments, girlfriend with expensive tastes -- doesn't carry much weight. Instead you need to be offering examples of how the company or the boss in particular benefits from what you are doing for him or her. The benefits that you offer are what matters. And that's where cultural differences can make a difference in approach.

For example here in the US (and from what I've seen also to some extent in Western Europe) prospects respond best to pitches promising new ways of doing things, new styles, new techniques, new approaches to problem solving -- all with the implied promise that this will lower costs, or at the very least not cost any more. The idea of a new style can be very appealing to people who value creativity but not be very motivating to financial types who are just looking for ways to save money. That said most people are interested in learning something new and that can be your opening.

In many cultures around the globe price is the only thing which can crack open the door. From there you may have the ability to probe into other needs and interests, thereby gaining the ability to expand what you offer. But if you're not viewed as a less expensive option that the current provider you're not likely to get past the first phone call.

Another factor that I've seen both here and in Europe is the "good old boy" network. Work is gained only by those who are known and already the friend of someone. Getting to this point is where social networking and attempting to actively use references and referrals is essential. This takes time and cannot be done overnight. Sorry.

The bottom line is most people don't like to change from their current suppliers. This can be both good and bad. Good if you're the one already on the inside and therefore somewhat insulated from outside intrusion and bad if you're the outside intruder who can't get in. This is only broken down with a great deal of persistence and, frankly, luck. This is where sales becomes a numbers game. If you are actively in contact with 200 prospective clients you may get lucky that one of them just had a bad experience with their current supplier. Keep yourself in front of these 200 prospects month after month and your chances of getting lucky go up. It's not easy and no where near as much fun as doing the actual work, but essential to building a business.

This is a brief summary of a few key points about getting new clients. There are many other points of view that hopefully this thread will attract.

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Aleksander ØdegårdRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 27, 2010 at 10:45:35 pm

Thank you for an informative post!

I tried searching for past threads about the subject but did not find answers that I thought was that relevant in my situation.

As to the point of getting new clients. For me it´s not just about making money, but also learning the trade. When freelancing only as a videographer I feel like I´m missing out on a lot of knowledge about making the deals, pitching ideas, negotiate terms of contract and price, planning the shoot, editing and finalizing the project. As a camera operator I usually just get the minimum amount of information necessary to complete the task.
The best way of learning the trade is by doing it, and being part of it from start to finish.

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts :)

Aleksander Ødegård

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Bob ZelinRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 28, 2010 at 12:39:36 am

24 is very young to "start your own business". When I started my own business at 26, I had several full time jobs in the industry, and was fired from my last two, and could not find another job. So I took
any part time jobs I could find. I didn't know what the word "freelancer" meant - it was just part time work. I learned how to beg, I learned how to solicit, I learned how to figure out whatever I had to do, to get the next job. I still do this (by learning new things all the time to stay employed). As you get more successful, you never stop soliciting, you never stop begging. This process is called SALES. After a while, people start to know you, they start to like your work, and you start to get regular work. Never be embarassed, never be ashamed, solict everyone. Think of it like going into a nightclub, picking up a girl - you will get rejected over and over, but someone will eventually talk to you. Someone will eventually go out with you. Soon you will learn what to say, how to get jobs, how to get people to like you and trust you.

You are in Norway - why only Norway ? What about other nearby countries - what about Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, etc. People in the US travel from state to state to get work, and these nearby countries are not far away. You go where the work is.

If you keep at it, you will find work. But you will solicit new business for the rest of your life. Everyone does.

Bob Zelin

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walter biscardiRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 28, 2010 at 1:03:05 pm

If you go to the top of this forum and click on Business and Marketing Articles, you will find an entire library of articles from a host of authors for everything from starting your own business to marketing to surviving a tough marketplace.

I have a three part series in there on starting and running your own business and a follow up article about small steps to success. And there are dozens more articles in there that are extremely useful not only to folks like you starting out but to folks like me who have been around a while.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" Winner, Best Documentary, LA Reel Film Festival...

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Mark SuszkoRe: Advice on getting new clients? (small business)
by on Nov 29, 2010 at 12:32:07 am

So, have you contacted all the companies on this list yet?

What I would suggest is, cross-check that list against a list of charity, non-profit causes those companies fund or contribute to or support in some way. Then start pitching those causes that you like and agree with. Make them a promo video "on spec". If they like it, ask them for a commissioned job. Use that as a calling card to the folks at the major company that sponsors the charity. I call this "getting in thru the kitchen door". The gate-keepers at the "front door" are there to screen you out. But, once you already have this common factor with the people in charge, you can perhaps use that contact to get around all the front door barriers. Even if this fails, you did something nice for a charity you believe in, so you can't consider it a total loss. Promote yourself by making a web portfolio page about the spec project. Then start another project. Make things MAKING things happen. Don't wait to be given permission. Pick your project, and in the doing of it, surprising and unexpected opportunities can appear.

“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed”- Henryk Ibsen

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