Alan Bleiweiss: I do not find new clients. They find me.
This is based on the concept of creating high quality, unique content people find valuable, coupled with a rarely understood concept called brand marketing and public relations.
This is supported by providing superior service that results in existing clients becoming brand evangelists.
Not link building.
Not content marketing.
Crazy concept, huh?
Nick Wilsdon: These are some methods that work well for me -
1) Looking for local business clubs / networking groups. Ideally outside the usual digital circles, so you`re offering something unique. Very good for SME jobs.
2) Offering your expertise for a talk. There are a load of opportunities to speak in front of people, whether it`s a group of 20 or 2000. You`ll always get people asking for your business card at the end, usually 1 or 2 will become opportunities. Don`t do presentations that just sell you though - be more subtle than that. Try to help the audience, and if you use examples of your work, show them in that context.
Often you will find (2) helps with (1) - but in both cases, learn to network. That means getting out there to meet as many people as possible - don`t just stick with the 1 or 2 people you meet with initially, or you get on well with. Use polite excuses to move on and meet others (i.e. toilet / getting a drink or food / cigarette / taking phone call etc.). You should get a decent number of contacts from each event, then use a free CMS like HubSpot or Streak for Gmail to follow-up (even using followupthen.com to do reminders).
3) Use your current network. People forget about re-contacting their existing contacts too often. Send an email to let them know that you currently have capacity to take on a new client (limit your availability to raise your value - classic marketing).
4) Reach out to other digital professionals who offer complementary skills - i.e. if you are an SEO, talk to web designers/developers or vice versa. Consultants need to work with other pros on larger projects so you can find some interesting business relationships developing. This is the gig-economy, so these free-style associations are working well.
Jason Duke: I`ll dive in an answer but apologies in advance... It`s long... it`s VERY fu**ing long and I swear a lot in it!
It`s so long in fact, that I tried to post it here and FB stuck it`s middle finger up at me!
So here it is, a copy and paste from a private SEO group where I was asked a similar question and I waffled and detailed every step, and put online for you to read at your leisure...
I should say before you go and read it, that I am sure many of you will look at the process, dissect it and improve it. I am also sure even more of you will think it is morally reprehensible. I can live with either of those viewpoints.... I know it works and works extremely well and if you disagree.... that`s fine :)
As to morals.... that`s a personal decision for you all!
Loren Baker: Word of mouth, personal recommendations, people moving to new companies.
Jim Munro: Here are two quotes stolen from the web, Jonathan.
"A referral from every client and every client from a referral." and
"The purpose of a business is to create a mutually beneficial relationship between itself and those it serves. If it does that well, it will be around tomorrow to do it some more."
Let me know if they work and I might try myself. :)
David Ogletree: Offer training. They find out how hard it is they hire you to do the work and they become better clients because they know what you are doing.
There is no big secret to marketing just elbow grease.