Originally Posted by Chris_M
My experience with local clients is much like Marks. They know they can call me and have me stop by when they need help. It has actually led to a few non-web related setups for me as well.
This is something we've been doing a whole lot lately. Yesterday we spent 5 hours at the client's location, troubleshooting a problem that was keeping them from getting their emails, or loading their website.
After figuring out the issue, it turned out that we either had to disable their network proxy, or move their account to a different server. We of course could not disable their proxy, because it was in place for a reason. So after we left their office, the rest of the work day was spent preparing their website for a server migration.
It has gotten to the point that they're starting to think of us as part of their own staff lol. Just yesterday while they were taking lunch orders, they asked Mike and I if we wanted anything lol. They know us on a first name basis and treat us like part of the "family". That's not something you'll get online.
When you're able to spend this kind of, in person, one on one attention with a client, they tend to trust you more. As such, more often than not, they'll become more loyal than practically any customer you'll find online.
Factors of all of this come from a multitude of directions, but a primary factor is that it has become so easy to open and run an online business, that practically anyone can do it. So much so, that you'll find a lot of people opening a business online who have no business experience, or business sense at all, or you'll find a lot of kids opening "businesses".
What this causes is the expectation of getting something free or cheap, because to them, business is something you can do for very little or no money.
Businesses in your local area have established locations, actual bills, and responsibilities to meet. They tend to know a bit more about business than someone who throws up a website and calls it a business. This equates to them knowing that getting a quality website designed and developed is not something you can get for $50. They know that you can't get advanced quality custom software developed for $100. Thus, when they contact you or agree to do business with you, they already know they're going to spend some money.
Now, while you can get more money from them in relationship to design or development services, I strongly feel that you should keep your same low hosting rates for them. Why? Because their experience is that you can't get hosting services for less than $20/mo for 100MB of space. When you offer it to them for $9/mo, they're usually all too happy to oblige.
once you have a solid local client base, doing business online is easier, because you'll find that while you appreciate online business, getting a customer online is far from your primary efforts or goals, because you already have a strong and profitable business model in place with your local clients. You'll begin to think of your online transactions as "extra revenue".
If I may advise however, when you approach local clients, try to fit as much key information into your first few opening statements to them, because they're already assuming that you're going to be expensive, and as such may say "No" based on that assumption. So you need to be friendly, concise, and squash those assumptions as quickly as you can. You'll be surprised at how many times a potential local customer will say "yes" after that.
Oh and don't be afraid or ashamed of bartering with your customers for services if they can't afford you. All avidInteractive employees and their family members now have a lifetime free membership at the YMCA because of this method. Can't be embarrassed about a free lifetime Gym membership lol.
In fact, a relative of mine actively does this, and lives a life of a king so to speak, with things he bartered for (3 cars, land, nice home..custom built, remodelling, vacations out the rear, etc). He got most of these things either free or very very cheap, in exchange for his services.
So yeah, don't be ashamed of bartering if you must.