I recently (read: last week) started the following business:
[Business Name] is a small business IT consulting firm. We specialize in theAs you may have noticed, this is a local, niche business... At the moment, no one in Austin, TX (our location) knows this business exists.
use of Open Source Software by small businesses. Open Source Software
allows a small business to lower their IT costs, while keeping their
productivity the same. In fact, in some cases the change to Open
Source Software can actually increase a businesses productivity.
You may be asking "What is Open Source Software though?". This is
what The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has to say on the subject:
"Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the
power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The
promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more
flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in."
~ The Open Source Initiative (OSI)
How do I change that on a shoe-string budget? I already tried posting to Craigslist, but the post was buried in less than an hour, and I didn't get any calls/emails.
There is potentially a very long list which summerises as "find prospects who are local and put your pitch to them".
Working out who is going to be interested ... thats a big one and another set of questions from you, the rest assumes you know who your target market actually is ...
Some ways to go about finding local prospects :
If you are on LinkedIn their advanced search allows you to specify "within 50 miles(80 kms) of me". You can put in job titles and some other "qualifiers". This will give you a starting hit list, which you can use to start with. If you save the search LinkedIn will email you any new people within your 3 degrees of seperation. For each real candidate create a semi-personalised spam (i mean message) and either email (cheap) or mail (generally more effective). Part of the message is that you will give them a followup call next week ... you ring, you ask for the person by name, you get a chance to book a meeting. (Don't try to sell over the phone it won't work, your local, be local).
Tell all of your friends (but not constantly), a bit about what you do but more who you are looking for ... it might trigger something for someone.
You are a consulting firm? Why are you scared of meeting people in person? You should meet your potential customers in person. Goto their office and pitch what you have to offer.
Do some research, study case studies how other companies profited from switching to open source. Collect some data, present it in a visual way.
THIS IS A LOCAL BUSINESS, YOU SHOULD START LOCALLY! You don't even need to have a website like a user said when you get your first couple of clients. Make your website when you have something to display..
If you decide to make a website even though you have no clients, put the presentation and the data I was talking about on the website.