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  • Help with marketing...

    Hopefully this is the right place (if any) for this question...

    I've been a graphic artist for almost a decade, but have been out of it professionally for about five years as I switched to the tech side of things (IT support and administration). Recently, I lost my job of four years as a PC Tech (level III admin) when the plumbing supply corporation I worked for imploded under its own debt, with some help from the banking system.

    After months of trying to find work in my area (MI), I gave up, as HR departments across the board are looking to pick up desperate college graduates with CS degrees for cheap (people understandingly nervous with lots of college debt to start paying off, taking any job for very low pay). Seeing as I had years of computer skills under my belt (from Commodore PET 8032s and Apple ][s to present-day multi-processor UNIX server systems), I decided to jump into the consulting field, concentrating on small businesses which can't afford a full-time IT support person or staff.

    So far, it's been doing OK, for a single person running out of his house with a cellphone and a laptop!

    However, as I read more books on marketing my small business, I realize I've got an untapped market in the graphic arts fields. I've got extensive knowledge of most publishing apps (Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, Corel, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, InDesign, Quark), deep knowledge of OS X and other *NIX systems, and System 7-9 time.

    What I'm trying to figure out is how best to market to assorted businesses like publishing firms, design houses, video editing houses, etc. I've got a flyer I'm trying to put together, but I'm looking for insight into what these types of businesses may be looking for in IT support. I realize that many smaller firms utilize 'internal gurus' to get by, but there's a point when even those 'pro users' can't keep it all running, and a consultant needs to be called in.

    I'd like to know what you all think... if you received a trifold brochure in the mail, what would make you stop and look at it before automatically relegating it to the trash? Catch phrases, color bursts, photos or sharp illustrations, $$$, 'FREE something-or-other' offers?

    Please pardon me if I'm stepping into the wrong place here. I like what I've been reading in these forums, and have even found post or two where I can hopefully help out, and I just figured I'd get some information from the proverbial 'horse's mouth' instead of wasting my time guessing what you'd be interested in. Keep in mind, any comments posted here won't be getting replies from me begging for business; I'm local to Grand Rapids, MI, and have no interest in pursuing long-distance clients! [img]/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    Thanks for any input you may have, looking forward to reading!
    Dan
    CATALYST Techworks Consulting

  • #2
    Greetings, torque, and welcome to the forum! Nice to have you aboard.

    I checked out your website for more information about what you do. Honestly, you had me sold right there! Of course, I've found from personal experience that just giving someone a url to look at seems to be expecting too much from them (I mean, honestly, they have to type that whole thing into their address bar... and who has time for that these days?!), so I understand your need for a flyer, etc. Unfortunately, I'm not in marketing or anything, so I can only give you my personal opinion (worth about 2 cents, from what I'm told...) [img]/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]

    I run my office out of my home, and I skim through any advertisements that come in the mail (just in case). But to catch my attention, I like to see something that doesn't look like every other ad out there... and no starbursts!

    Seriously, I think that if you take the same approach as you did on your web page, the printed words will speak for themselves. I'm sure that one of our advertising / marketing experts will be along to tell you how to approach the flyer, but as far as content goes, this is what caught my eye:

    Catalyst Techworks said...
    'My name is ... , and I'm here to help'
    - very personable... I said to myself... 'he sounds nice.' A lot of people presume that computer people are stuffy and unapproachable. Your greeting caught my eye and made me want to read more.

    Catalyst Techworks said...
    'How can you be certain your business needs a 'virtual IT' service? Ask yourself a few questions: Do you have someone you rely on as an 'internal computer guru'? Would their time be better put to use doing their own job instead?'
    - that's great! At my last job *I* was the 'internal computer guru' <shudder> and I could never keep up with my own work! I think that question will get people thinking.


    by the way, I LOVE your tag line: 'CATALYST Techworks | We're IT.' and your 'About Us' page says it all. Hope this helps...

    I like cheese. It is tasty.
    "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome to the forum! As far as how to market well, I think networking is your best bet. If you go to the local SB groups in your area you can help alot of noobies set up shop for there new ventures. Also just straight up calling Design agencies that need Mac experts to 'fix it now cause it has to go to press today' would probably love you.

      As far as eye catching design, hmmmmm there are alot of idea I can think of but don't know what works yet.

      Good luck and hopefully we can learn from each other.


      Graphic Design Heroes! Call me Captain Type Caster. I’ve fought off “The Evil Cosmic Sans” for year but it seems “Dr. Extreme Untalent” keeps bringing him back. I must find a way to defeat this evil creature.

      Capt. Creative bring me those comps…

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks so much for taking the time to critique my site!

        morea said...
        I said to myself... 'he sounds nice.' A lot of people presume that computer people are stuffy and unapproachable. Your greeting caught my eye and made me want to read more.
        I've learned from years of experience in retail (my family owned a hardware store and two Radio Shacks in the '80s and '90s) that it's so much easier to do MY job if the customer can relate to me... and more fun, too. This is exactly the stigma that I've been trying to bury in my years of IT support, and it's good that you noticed that on just a quick perusal of my site. THAT is appreciated, you made my day!

        Don't worry, there'll be no sunburst designs on my marketing material. I keep my eye on current styles still, and am currently of the 'minimalist' design thought, as my site shows. I still kinda kick myself for using a raster-based logo, coming from a sign design and screen-printing background, but I needed flashy to compete!

        So your comments did help. I see that the 'internal guru' issue is one that will get some gears turning in people's heads. I'm still open to other thoughts... keep 'em coming!

        TIA,
        Dan
        CATALYST Techworks Consulting

        Comment


        • #5
          Dan, I'd make a heading somewhere at the top of your page that uses the, 'Hi, I'm Dan D, etc.' statement. That's great marketing.

          Use that on mail-outs, too.

          Additionally, D, there is posted somewhere on this site a thread addressing a great book about self-promotion - find it - that should help.

          People want personal service - especially when it comes to manipulating electrons...

          They need someone like you!



          Post Edited (BuckarooB) : 9/10/2004 3:33:44 PM GMT
          BB~:0)

          Comment


          • #6
            odd sized and a good contrast of colors is what will make you stand out. I get a ton of materials a week and most of it goes in the trash cause it's all the same. do something a little off kilter.

            I did this brochure for an office here at the university I work for. We decided to do something a little different then your standard tri fold brochure. WQell the response has been amazing, so I have heard. one guys commented to the person at the office I work on this with 'I get tons of these a week and yours stoof out and drew my eye, so know i want to sign up'. Junk mail is what it is...junk. you need to do something a little special to not be deemed 'junk mail'.

            'I will become the most powerful Jedi ever!'

            'I'm the damn designer, bitches!'
            "Even when I'm not at 100%, I'm still 110% better then anyone else!"

            Check out my indie comic books at http://www.crycomic.com and http://www.assassinsguild.net/

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks, everyone, for the ideas. I'm trying to keep this on the cheap as I'm already strapped for $$$ in starting up.

              benjoe said...
              odd sized and a good contrast of colors is what will make you stand out. I get a ton of materials a week and most of it goes in the trash cause it's all the same. do something a little off kilter.
              Odd-sized prints are an idea; I'm outputting these brochures on my own Canon S900 (full-bleed 8.5x11 prints, 6-color) so I obviously thought the tri-fold idea on standard 28# paper would be best, but you gave me an idea. If it were a SMALLER trifold, like 6' x 11', would that be more interesting visually? Not sure if smaller is better, but it's different! I could easily crop these things by hand for the amount I'm sending out at first (maybe 50 targetted mailings the first two weeks).

              BuckarooB said...
              Additionally, D, there is posted somewhere on this site a thread addressing a great book about self-promotion - find it - that should help.
              I do have a great book I've been reading, called 'Marketing Your Consulting Services' by Elaine Biech, and it's given me the basics of marketing, something I didn't think I really needed until I started reading other books. I also have a great series of audio CDs and support documents by a guy named Joshua Feinberg, called 'The Computer Consulting 101 Professional Kit', and it's changed the way I do business (opting to sell longer-term relationships based on service-level agreements instead of hourly). He also goes into detail on some marketing techniques specific to my field.

              I'll do some searching here to see if I can find that thread, thanks.

              benjo said...
              Also just straight up calling Design agencies that need Mac experts to 'fix it now cause it has to go to press today' would probably love you.
              That's exactly who I'm going to target with this first brochure. I'm making it so that I can plug in slightly different text for different fields and quickly get these sent out, so they are more 'personal' and interesting to the person reading them. It's just getting people to OPEN these mailings that is the hardest part.

              All good ideas, thanks again. You're good people! (As if I had doubted; you're ARTISTS!)

              OH, one quick question: Anyone know where I can find the kind of glue or tape big companies and magazine publishers use to temporarily tape mailer cards to magazine covers and such? I'm trying to stay away from stapling these closed; I know the post office hates staples! Is it a special hot glue gun stick? Couldn't find anything similar in OfficeMax the other day...

              Comment


              • #8
                I think it's ruber cement. Can anyone confirm that.


                Graphic Design Heroes! Call me Captain Type Caster. I’ve fought off “The Evil Cosmic Sans” for year but it seems “Dr. Extreme Untalent” keeps bringing him back. I must find a way to defeat this evil creature.

                Capt. Creative bring me those comps…

                Comment


                • #9
                  torque2k - I think that BB was talking about 'Get Noticed! Self-Promotion For Creative Professionals' by Clark & Lennert
                  I saw it mentioned in another thread.

                  And I like the idea of a smaller than standard sized brochure. That would get *my* attention!

                  I like cheese. It is tasty.
                  "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The odd size thing really seems like a good idea for you. Even a die cut on the front that makes it different. I think you should have them professionally printed but of course that is totally up to you. Even the coating can catch someones eye. Something you won't get on a home printer.

                    I have worked in the marketing department as a freelance designer at my current employer and it seems that the big thing is showing slashed pricing. The other thing is give aways. Product give aways. Obviously this works better with larger companies because they buy a truck load of something and it costs them next to nothing. Then they give it away.

                    Other things are personalized things. Maybe print the companies name on the flyers. Espcially if you know your target. I know this is a stretch with trying to help you out but I am trying to think of how they do things.

                    I also know that very few places have a Mac tech. Drives me nuts where I work (of course we are on PCs now bc they were too cheap to hire a Mac tech) but we still have a lot of Macs in the building and the IT guys know nothing about them. Basically it is like you said...it's find the inhouse guru! You may want to really press the fact that you are Mac capable.

                    I definitely dig your site. It has a lot of great stuff on it. I was impressed with the software section. There was some stuff in there that I hadn't heard of.

                    Networking is also a great tool. A huge tool! Get out there and talk to ppl. Each person you talk to might lead to something. Hand out business cards like candy. Also may want to speak at the local Career Center to tell ppl how you got started and get your name out there. Going door to door (business to business) sucks but it can really work for you.

                    Look at your local area papers to see what advertisements you can do. I currently work with an Advertising Salesman who buys a page in a local area paper and then sells squares for low cost for ppl to advertise. He does this for the top of pizza boxes too. It's a great to get your name out there for a minimal price. The more you get your name into the community the more you will be thought of.

                    Also look at ways to get your name higher on the search lists at places like Yahoo and Google.

                    Ok, I have gone on enough. Hope some of this gives you some ideas.

                    Welcome to the forum!!

                    Cats Eye Creations

                    When I die, I have a free ride to Heaven! I will have alreadydone my time in Hell...at the local printshop!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      benjo said...
                      I think it's ruber cement. Can anyone confirm that.
                      Just to clarify, a friend who works on presses told me it was often called 'fugitive glue', but he also said that was a misnomer. It's usually sold in sticks or cakes and put into a press for end-run application via a built-in hotglue gun.

                      What I want is a removable adhesive, and he told me about a product called 'GlueDots', which are 1/2' diameter dots of dry adhesive on a tape of wax paper. Kinda like transfer adhesive, you rip a piece off, stick it, pull the wax paper off, and stick something to the other side. The website for the company (www.gluedots.com/index.html) shows that they have a new product called GlueStrips, which sounds like it'd be perfect. Hobby Lobby is listed as one of the places which sells the product; I'll be calling them today...

                      To morea and Cats Eye Creations, thanks, I'll keep those tips in mind. I've got the guts of the brochure done (kinda a stripped down version of my site's index page with Mac-ness thrown in), just trying to come up with a clean design for the other side (the attention-getting part). I think I'm going to shy away from using Photoshop on this one, stick to vector art (simple) and type to get the point across. And color, yes, color.

                      When will someone come out with a Hexachrome desktop printer?! I want good greens!!! [img]/emoticons/hop.gif[/img]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Glue dots I want some of those.

                        *thinks of sinister plots*


                        Graphic Design Heroes! Call me Captain Type Caster. I’ve fought off “The Evil Cosmic Sans” for year but it seems “Dr. Extreme Untalent” keeps bringing him back. I must find a way to defeat this evil creature.

                        Capt. Creative bring me those comps…

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Send a business card. I collect business cards.. If i have a problem ill check the bus. cards that i have and then Ill goto Anywho.com and look there for someone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks, Debz. Actually, I learned a trick from a brochure I received from a mortage company a few years ago: stick the card to the inside of the brochure, flow the text around it, but have some sort of special deal beneath the card. It entices the reader to remove the card, and once it's in their hands, they're less likely to toss it in the trash with the brochure. On top of that, try to get the reader to act on the special deal hidden by the card...

                            I'm giving away a free security assessment on any one server or gateway router at a business (up to 3 hours of service). I also thought of giving away a 'version check' service, up to 3 hours on-site, just running through each PC or Mac and showing if they have the latest versions of the OS and apps. Sound enticing? Right now I can't afford coffee mugs, pens or stadium seat cushions... [img]/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] [img]/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

                            Thanks again, keep 'em coming!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Gotta spend money to make money - most fail due to under-capitalization. I recommend you play lotto! It could happen!!

                              Naturally, even if you won lotto, you'd remain in the GD trenches...

                              BB~:0)

                              Comment

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