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This week, I'm pulling a Bil Keane. In the finest Family Circus tradition, I've put a gaggle of wild children in control of my column and let them loose to answer the seven most frequently asked questions about Getting Work. (Why seven? Hey, kids work for nothing, so why not?)
Good marketing demands fresh thinking -- and who better than kids to be fresh? The question is, how useful is their advice? Take a look and judge for yourself.
1. I'm afraid of cold calling. How can I overcome my fear?
Lacey, 14: There is no way to get around this problem. If you don't call these businesses, there is no way to peddle your services. If you don't sell your services, chances are very slim that you will succeed. This thought may give you enough motivation to get going. If not, you could always tell yourself that it's just another friendly call.
Erin H., 10: You could overcome your fear by talking to more experienced people about how they overcame similar fears when they were starting out.
Erin N., 6: Get a smile on your face.
2. How can I get people to visit my Web site?
Ashley, 7: Get your name in the paper.
Nicholas, 4: Invite them to your office.
Philip, 13: Get more advertisements; maybe pay other Web sites to make an ad for your Web site, one of those that pops up on the top of the screen.
Erin H.: To get people to visit your site you need to advertise on the front of other Web pages, have commercials on TV, and sponsor stuff.
Lacey: Advertise! Even if you have limited resources to do so, joining a Webring (or many Webrings) makes it almost impossible for surfers to not notice your site.
3. It's the old Catch-22: clients want IPs with experience -- but I can't get experience without clients! What to do?
Philip: Get recommended by friends and family.
Lacey: The best way to get experience is practicing your services on your friends. You will gain more knowledge while doing favors for your friends -- perhaps for a small fee -- at the same time.
Erin H.: Go with smaller companies first because they just want the help and don't care as much about experience.
4. I'm just starting out as an IP. How can I make my marketing materials look professional without spending a lot of money?
Erin H.: I think you should home-make your materials on the computer using a good quality paper.
Lacey: Look around. Many printing companies provide discounts for small businesses. If none exist in your area, invest in at-home software. Some software can, with the right amounts of skill and creativity, produce some very professional results.
5. How can I find companies that use my type of service without buying an expensive mailing list?
Philip: Use a search engine on the Internet or spend some time and look through the phone book.
Erin N.: Go to the library.
Ashley: Call 'em.
6. Sometimes I get so busy with work that I don't have time to worry about marketing myself. But when the busy period is over, I have no new clients and no opportunities on the horizon. What should I do?
Erin H.: I would squeeze in longer hours and, if possible, work weekends.
Antoinette, 15: Get someone else to do your marketing for you. Get a secretary or something. If you can't afford a secretary, get one of your kids to do it. If you don't have kids, one of your friends might and, well, if you pay him or her a total of a very easy five bucks -- then you'll never be accused of running a sweatshop! Of course, if the work is too hard for a teen, then I guess you're SOL.
Erin N.: Ask your husband or wife to do it.
7. How can I get my company's name mentioned in the newspaper?
Antoinette: Either buy an ad or do something spectacular. As for the something spectacular, I'm not telling you to run naked through the streets wearing only a sign with your logo on it, or getting arrested. That's just unneeded stress, and stress can kill. Participate in public events or something where the press will be. If you have friends in high places, then use them. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you.
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