Q:I run a small part-time computer training business and it's going good so far, but I would like to know or neat and innovative ways to get new clients/students and maintain them. Right now most of my students I get from word of mouth, advertising in the local paper, flyers etc.
A:Something that has worked well for me is to put together a series of seminars of varying lengths (30 minute, 1 hour etc) and approach local business groups. I offer to give a free talk to their members, in which I give good information and advice, and softsell my services. The people who hear me speak see my style firsthand, learn something right off, and are free to approach me with a personal relationship already established. One thing that has worked well for my business is producing a short video that introduces prospective clients to my company and my employees. I then rent mailing lists of local businesses that I think would be most receptive to my services and send them the video along with a brochure. Using video has worked much better for me than simply mailing a brochure or flyer by itself. And by educating my prospects beforehand, I end up with a very qualified and pleasant group of people to work with. Just out of interest, what kind of ratios does the video tend to average, how much does each mailer cost, and are your services expensive enough that you recoup the cost of the mailer in immediate sales ordo you only turn a real profit on repeat business? I ask as I am looking into using more expensive direct mail materials but have no experience in how it might affect the responsiveness of a list. A few other ideas - some obvious, that hopefully are helpful :) * Radio advertising - large audience, probably low response rate * Direct mail * Join local organizations - Chambers of Commerce - Business Building/Lead Generation groups - Computer Users Groups (good one for you!) * Try a joint venture with a (non-competitor) computer retailer/reseller to distribute your marketing material with each computer sold * Same as above with local ISPs * Same as above with local temporary agencies to train their employees However, I generally advise our clients to send out a video only after a prospective client has shown an interest in viewing it. Automobile and financial services companies often run ads that prominently feature their videos; the reader can get the free video by calling or by returning a reply card (see the Wall Street Journal for examples.) This technique requires people to demonstrate an interest before receiving a copy and helps insure that every video is a wanted video. Another idea: Some companies sell their promotional videos and offer to apply the cost toward purchase of their merchandise. As to the cost of mailers, one of our clients just bought 500 copies of his video at $3.45 each. Total (without sales tax): $1,728.45. As with printing, the price per copy decreases as the number of copies increases. Send them in bubble envelopes; the fiber-filled ones can tear. And pay close attention to the box or sleeve that holds the tape. It should look enticing enough to get people to put the tape in the VCR.