Tips for Attracting Local Clients

Local

Most web designers work with clients from all over the country or even all around the world. While it certainly allows the designer to expand his or her marketplace, there are sometimes competitive advantages that exist when targeting work from local clients. Because local marketing is sometimes overlooked, I wanted to put together this list of suggestions for doing more work in your own backyard.

1 – Use the city you are targeting in your page titles

Some potential clients that prefer to work with a local designer will turn to a search engine, and they’ll use a locality in their search phrase, such as “Philadelphia web designer.” While general search phrases like “web design” or “website designer” are extremely competitive and difficult to attain high rankings, local searches are far less competitive. If you are going after these local clients, why not optimize your site for local searches? Page titles are one of the most significant factors, but general SEO using local terms will affect other areas of your site as well.

2 – Use effective meta descriptions

While meta descriptions have very limited impact on search engine rankings, they can have a much more significant impact on click-through rates. Most search engines use the meta description tag, if there is one, on the SERPs to show searchers what they page is about. Think about the mentality of a potential client that is looking for a local designer. If he or she does a search for a designer in a specific location, most likely a meta description that mentions that location will be clicked over one that doesn’t mention the location.

3 – Pay-Per-Click advertising

One of the great advantages of PPC advertising is that you can accurately and easily target certain geographic areas. Different PPC programs offer different ways of doing things, but most of the major competitors will give you a way to show your ads only to searchers within a specified region. By doing this you can make your ads much more effective. You won’t be wasting money on clicks from other parts of the world, and you can include localized keywords and phrases in your ads to draw more attention and more clicks. Aside from just narrowing down the geographic region that sees your ads, you can also target local keywords just like you’re doing with organic SEO in the first point that was covered.

4 – Join a chamber of commerce

A local chamber of commerce can be a great resource for meeting other local business owners and making valuable contacts. Almost every city, town or county has a chamber of commerce, and membership dues are usually pretty reasonable. Additionally, many chambers now will also link to the websites of their members through an online membership directory. With a chamber of commerce, you will get out of it what you put into it. If you’re actively attending events and making an effort to get to know other members, you will make some valuable business contacts. If you join the chamber and don’t really put anything into it, you won’t get much out of it.

5 – Get links from local websites

Most cities have localized websites that get a decent bit of traffic and rank well for local searches. If you can get links from these sites you could in turn get more local traffic of your own. Additionally, you can get links from other local business that could result in more local traffic.

6 – Work with a well-connected local client

Sometimes doing a website for one well-known or well-connected local client can lead to several other local jobs. Make an effort to identify some businesses or organizations that would provide a good opportunity to get some exposure from designing their website. Don’t always judge a potential project based simply on the amount of money that you’ll make on that work. If there is strong potential to lead to even more work you may want to consider taking the project for less money than you would otherwise.

7 – Be proactive

Attracting local clients isn’t all about waiting for them to come to you. As a local designer you have an advantage over designers in other parts of the country or the world. Be proactive and pursue some potential jobs on your own. How you go about this is up to you, but if local searches aren’t providing the results you want, take some action. Chances are you already know some other local business owners that could be in need of your services. Why not talk to them and see if there is an opportunity to work together?

8 – Attend local networking events

Chambers of commerces, community groups, community colleges, and other local businesses may provide you with opportunities to mix with other business owners. When I first attended networking events I was pretty uncomfortable approaching others, but I quickly realized that everyone was there to meet other people. No one goes to a networking event to stand in the corner by themselves. They’re a great place to meet others because everyone is so open to making new connections.

9 – Distribute business cards

A lot of local service providers use business cards as one of their means for finding new business. You probably see business cards of real estate agents just about everywhere you go. Having an attractive business card that you can leave may be the difference between getting work and not getting work. While it will never be your most productive form of marketing it can be a nice supplement.

10 – Local advertisements

Local clients that are looking for a designer may turn to publications such as the Yellow Pages or the newspaper. Many times designers get so focused on online promotion and marketing that they tend to forget more traditional methods.

What’s Your Experience?

What have you found to help with attracting local clients?

Published April 20th, 2008 by

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads. Visit WPEngine.

Join Our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter chalked full of useful tips, techniques, and design goodies. We have 20,000+ loyal readers and counting! We’ll even send you a free e-book (Freelance Designer’s Guide to Multiple Income Streams) and a $10 discount on our most popular product the Freelance Starter Kit.

30 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Tyler, April 20, 2008

    This is a very good post. It seems like when ever I’m wondering about a certain topic, within a few days you post about it. Thanks for the info on this. Keep up the great work.

  • Vandelay Design, April 20, 2008

    Tyler,
    I’m glad you found something useful. Thanks for the comment.

  • Evan Meagher, April 21, 2008

    Good tips. With regard to networking with and meeting local people, sites like http://www.meetup.com/ are very useful. The Seattle-based web design group, for example, is fairly active with a handful of people in attendance at each month’s meetup.

    Great idea about joining a chamber of commerce. That’s one that I haven’t seen in similar articles on other blogs.

  • liam, April 21, 2008

    Useful ideas here, thanks for sharing. If you think about it there’s probably more work, because of less competition in your Local area than there is finding online work worldwide. Certainly true for me where I live.

  • Geoserv, April 21, 2008

    STUMBLED!

    This is the second post today I have stumbled upon regarding this topic, both had differing tips, but both having great tips.

    Thanks for posting.

    VOTED for this post at:
    http://www.newsdots.com/tutorials/attract-more-work-from-local-clients-vandelay-website-design/

  • Vandelay Design, April 21, 2008

    Evan,
    I’m familiar with MeetUp but haven’t personally used it. Thanks for the addition.

    Liam,
    I think that’s the case for most locations, we just get stuck in our online mentality and forget about some other useful marketing methods.

    Geoserv,
    Thanks for the stumble.

  • Ivan, April 22, 2008

    Some good tips, but I’m afraid in my local community groups are not so spread, or I’m not looking too much :).

  • Matthew Griffin, April 23, 2008

    Great tips Steven. I’ve used Google ads and Yahoo Search Marketing locally for over a year now and it’s been the most effective advertising I’ve ever done.

  • Vandelay Design, April 23, 2008

    Matt,
    Thanks for helping me to prove my point!

  • Web Designer, April 24, 2008

    Some very good points listed here worth noting. I run a design company myself and have always concentrated on the overseas market. May be its time I follow the tips and do some good business locally too.

  • Tom, April 25, 2008

    I have recently moved back to my hometown and the business owners are very open to websites and internet. It is a very rural area and it has so far been great to meet with the owners and talk about their plans. I would suggest to offer a low cost beginner package in an area like this as this seems to be what the majority want. great post

  • Laura MacPherson, April 25, 2008

    Thanks for this great post! I can testify to the effectiveness of getting involved in a local Chamber of Commerce. When I started my web and graphic design company, I got involved in my local chamber, and since then most of my business has come from contacts I’ve made there. Another idea is to get involved in a leads group like BNI or PNG where you exchange referrals. That’s also been very effective for me.

  • I have recently moved back to my hometown and the business owners are very open to websites and internet. It is a very rural area and it has so far been great to meet with the owners and talk about their plans. I would suggest to offer a low cost beginner package in an area like this as this seems to be what the majority want. great post

    .

  • Callum Chapman, April 15, 2009

    cheers for this list!

  • Kurtis Cicalo, July 6, 2009

    I recently joined a local chamber of commerce and a business breakfast club and have so far been pleasently pleased with the results. I find I get more results from the breakfast club because of the laid back and casual style of it. However the Chamber of more high profile.

  • Rondal, January 11, 2010

    These are some great pointers and I can honestly say that without knowing it I have been doing half of these for a while now with some degree of success. Now I can actively pursue these outlets with vigor. Thanks!

  • Webknix Design Studio, May 17, 2010

    I market to local businesses by sending out a series of 5 sales letters via direct mail and email …. works great every single time ! I find prospects by looking in yellow pages and finding businesses that do not have websites …

  • Jitendra Shah, December 22, 2011

    Been to a few networking events and they can be quite fun at times