I recently launched a new company, Solar Energy Marketing, a web design and marketing business completely separate from my current business, Design by Friday.
Here’s how I launched it in six months.
Laying the Groundwork
I mentioned in a previous post that I dedicate 90 minutes a day to connecting with potential clients via LinkedIn. As a part of that strategy, my partner and I began connecting with solar companies, giving the idea that we could step up our game by niching our services in this industry.
Because $10K Bootcamp had such a significant impact on my current business, I decided to revisit all of the Bootcamp material. We dived into the content with more focus than ever, stepping up our game and implementing all of Brent’s advice in a more aggressive, more focused way.
We began by doing some SEO research in our new niche – solar energy. Based upon the results of my research, we chose a name that we knew would perform well – “Solar Energy Marketing” – and filed for a business license. During this time, we continued to connect with people in the solar industry.
The next trick was figuring out a URL for the site. As you know by now, most dot-coms have been taken, so we had to get creative.We were excited to find that www.solarenergymarketing.net was available.
I also made a strong effort to connect with a large solar energy association here in California. I called the membership director and asked what kind of opportunities joining would open us up to. I also wanted to know which types of business were members and who attended their events.
The types of business involved with this particular association were exactly the fit we were looking for, so I joined.
From there, we developed a logo, duplicated the layout of our current site, changed the images and colors, turned off some of the irrelevant pages, and tweaked the content to match our new niche. At this point, we had a fully functioning website.
Lastly, we created some social media pages based on our new site. Essentially, we were in business.
Leveraging an Existing Network
A website without clients isn’t a business. It’s a website. I needed to let potential clients know we existed.
Leaning on the $10K Bootcamp content once more, I knew networking within the solar energy market needed to be my biggest focus. I needed to get in front of people any way I could.
I signed up for a booth at a high profile solar energy event called Intersolar, the most attended solar exhibition in the U.S. We also registered for a booth at a golf tournament sponsored by the California-based solar association we had become members of a few weeks earlier.
There’s no better way to make your presence known than to show up and be seen.
A Few Takeaways
- Joining the association was a smart move. The woman I initially spoke with became our business champion, introducing me to people in the industry and promoting us to others.
- I spent a lot of money by having a display at Intersolar (nearly 10K!), but it was totally worth it. It allowed us to work the event in two ways: meeting business owners at our table and gaining access to the entire event by walking the floor.
Tip: If you’re just starting out and don’t have $10K to spend on hotels, travel, trade show displays, and promotional items, all is not lost. Build a one-page site in your targeted niche, make some simple business cards with your logo on them, and show up to “work” the event. Many people without booths were walking around and simply talking with the people representing their companies.
- It was a great event to be a part of, but I quickly realized that the people I wanted to talk to – Marketing Directors – weren’t walking around to speak to people. They were running their own displays. If you attend an event like this, make sure you have time to walk around and meet others.
- Marketing Directors show up to speak to customers. A lot of people are vying for their attention, so when you do approach them, don’t solicit while they’re working. Be respectful and watch for an opening. Then make your move.
- Being face-to-face at an event led to a lot of great opportunities. I was able to make a lot of champion-style connections and land future opportunities as a speaker and presenter. One result of this event is that I was invited to be a speaker at a three-day conference in Portland. This alone will produce a ton of exposure to potential clients.
- There’s no better way to understand potential clients’ needs than to show up and talk to them.
If you’d like to do something like this, be prepared to really put yourself out there. You’ll have to join associations, attend events, create a cohesive marketing strategy, and be willing to spend some money – not to mention actually talk to people. This isn’t everyone’s strength, but there’s no better way to meet potential clients and let them know your business exists to help them.
I want to be clear – starting a new business is not easy. This took a lot of planning, preparation, and money. But it is possible. The key is in your dedication to getting results. The more committed you are, the better you’ll do. Good luck!
Wondering how to make this strategy work for you? Leave a comment below.