Got a New Client.. The Mayor. What can I do?

by JCoffey 21 replies
Hello all,

First off, I've been trying to get some local clients for my web development business. I went my city website to look at businesses in the area, and it looked horrible. I figured "what the hell, I can e-mail the mayor, and maybe she'll be interested in hiring me to get them a new website."

Two days later, I get a reply. Guess what? She digs the idea, and gave me the personal number for the City Administrator to schedule a meeting to get this started.

Now, here's my problem. This is my first client! Hell of a first client, right? I honestly have no clue how to conduct this meeting to make the sale. I have to plan this out perfectly, and make sure I should convincing enough, but not too much. If I land this client; I instantly just got access to a bunch of "Yes!" answers from other businesses in the county. It's incredible, and I'm extremely stoked that my first client is the mayor of the city I just moved to, this can open up a lot of doors for my company and I.

Could any of you please suggest some things I should bring to the meeting, or any advise whatsoever? I'd greatly appreciate it!
#offline marketing #client #mayor
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  • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
    Originally Posted by JCoffey View Post

    Hello all,

    First off, I've been trying to get some local clients for my web development business. I went my city website to look at businesses in the area, and it looked horrible. I figured "what the hell, I can e-mail the mayor, and maybe she'll be interested in hiring me to get them a new website."

    Two days later, I get a reply. Guess what? She digs the idea, and gave me the personal number for the City Administrator to schedule a meeting to get this started.

    Now, here's my problem. This is my first client! Hell of a first client, right? I honestly have no clue how to conduct this meeting to make the sale. I have to plan this out perfectly, and make sure I should convincing enough, but not too much. If I land this client; I instantly just got access to a bunch of "Yes!" answers from other businesses in the county. It's incredible, and I'm extremely stoked that my first client is the mayor of the city I just moved to, this can open up a lot of doors for my company and I.

    Could any of you please suggest some things I should bring to the meeting, or any advise whatsoever? I'd greatly appreciate it!
    Congrats! Maybe consider using the free-website-but-pay-for-monthly-hosting approach which is an attractive offer, and I'd suggest creating a few mockup designs on subdomains to show them and see if they like any.
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by John Williamson View Post

      Congrats! Maybe consider using the free-website-but-pay-for-monthly-hosting approach which is an attractive offer, and I'd suggest creating a few mockup designs on subdomains to show them and see if they like any.
      Thanks John, much appreciated. The mockup designs is a great idea, I've never even thought of that.

      I see you're from Charleston, this client is for Manning (Clarendon County).
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      • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
        Originally Posted by JCoffey View Post

        Thanks John, much appreciated. The mockup designs is a great idea, I've never even thought of that.

        I see you're from Charleston, this client is for Manning (Clarendon County).
        Nice! Sorry I forgot to answer some of your specific questions. I would take a notepad, some pens, business cards, and a laptop if you have one, to the meeting. That way you look prepared even if you end up not using any of it. But it's good to write down a general idea of the type of layout they're looking for so you can use that to create the mock ups. Just say "I'd like to create some mock up designs to show you over the next week or so to see if we can find exactly what will fit your website the best."

        Show that you are focused on providing them good, valuable results, above all. Check out the threads in my sig - those should definitely give you some great ideas on the attitude to have when going in there and should give you the confidence you need to make it a smooth deal.

        And Kyle's exactly right above. Simply by knowing a little more than they do about internet marketing and websites, you are instantly the expert in their eyes, which is great. But your body language has to match that.
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  • Profile picture of the author kylemarvin
    I'm sure others have more in-depth answers for you but I can say walk in confident. You know what makes you an expert? The fact you know more than them about this subject, and you need to be confident and believe that you are doing something that they NEED that will HELP them. You're doing THEM a favor, not the other way around. Now, don't be cocky, but be confident and solid in your responses. As long as you know more than them about the subject, you'll be the expert in the room. Good luck, and congratulations!
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by kylemarvin View Post

      I'm sure others have more in-depth answers for you but I can say walk in confident. You know what makes you an expert? The fact you know more than them about this subject, and you need to be confident and believe that you are doing something that they NEED that will HELP them. You're doing THEM a favor, not the other way around. Now, don't be cocky, but be confident and solid in your responses. As long as you know more than them about the subject, you'll be the expert in the room. Good luck, and congratulations!
      Thank you Kyle, that's probably the best advise I could really get on the meeting itself.
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  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    quote- Hell of a first client, right?
    Could end up being the client from hell.
    Hopefully Im wrong but they will want you to do this for next to nothing and will take forever to make a decision.

    But the thing they understand is tax money and image and if you can show them why spending money to update site can help them you are part of the way there.
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by Eddie Spangler View Post

      quote- Hell of a first client, right?
      Could end up being the client from hell.
      Hopefully Im wrong but they will want you to do this for next to nothing and will take forever to make a decision.

      But the thing they understand is tax money and image and if you can show them why spending money to update site can help them you are part of the way there.
      The way I'm looking at it, even if they don't want to pay for this website; it opens up doors to other businesses in the area. If I'm able to tell them that I designed the city website; that will always be a huge plus on getting these local clients.

      I could be wrong as well, but I'm just hoping for the best.
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  • Profile picture of the author PaulKlein
    For the first meeting, make sure you have some mock ups or a demo site hosted you can show them for your work in mind. Doing sites for government agencies can be tricky, because many of them want high functionality and other features which may be a maintenance headache. Be firm on what you are offering, set a decent price too. I know a municipality that was paying $2500/month for a web guy who didn't do much at all, but the site was primo.
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by John Williamson View Post

      Nice! Sorry I forgot to answer some of your specific questions. I would take a notepad, some pens, business cards, and a laptop if you have one, to the meeting. That way you look prepared even if you end up not using any of it. But it's good to write down a general idea of the type of layout they're looking for so you can use that to create the mock ups. Just say "I'd like to create some mock up designs to show you over the next week or so to see if we can find exactly what will fit your website the best."

      Show that you are focused on providing them good, valuable results, above all. Check out the threads in my sig - those should definitely give you some great ideas on the attitude to have when going in there and should give you the confidence you need to make it a smooth deal.
      I'll definitely take a look at those, thanks again!

      Originally Posted by PaulKlein View Post

      For the first meeting, make sure you have some mock ups or a demo site hosted you can show them for your work in mind. Doing sites for government agencies can be tricky, because many of them want high functionality and other features which may be a maintenance headache. Be firm on what you are offering, set a decent price too. I know a municipality that was paying $2500/month for a web guy who didn't do much at all, but the site was primo.
      Their current website is absolutely hideous, and it definitely not very user-friendly, so I thought if I came up with a few new features to the new website would help.

      $2500/mo for someone who doesn't know what they're doing? That's ridiculous! I was thinking of more in the range of $500 and a small monthly upkeep fee.
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      • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
        Originally Posted by JCoffey View Post

        I'll definitely take a look at those, thanks again!



        Their current website is absolutely hideous, and it definitely not very user-friendly, so I thought if I came up with a few new features to the new website would help.

        $2500/mo for someone who doesn't know what they're doing? That's ridiculous! I was thinking of more in the range of $500 and a small monthly upkeep fee.
        Whatever you do , dont offer to do this for $500, they will not respect you and may doubt your ability.
        $500 is ridiculous for a city website. If this were a bidding situation they would expect to pay from 3k to 10k or more for this service.

        IF you end up taking this little it must be known that it is a favor to the city and come with certain expectation like an official letter of recommendation and whatever else you can get in terms of endorsements.
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  • Profile picture of the author Outsourcingnerd
    The mock up design idea is a great approach - a lot of customers are always worried that they would say yes and then buy some crap design.

    You have to think about they are not designers, and they honestly not even know completely what they want! :-)

    So make a plan for them - tell them that you know it is not easy to decide when you don´t know the result.

    Joke a bit, and tell it is like trying to sell an oil painting over the phone, without the other person have actually seen it. :-)

    Then, tell them that it is important to you that they feel confident with the design, so therefore you are going to make 3 - 5 mockup designs.

    Then those designs is done you set up a new meeting where they decide which one they like, and they can also decide changes, colors, etc.

    That way you have actually sold the solution already - because they agree that they are going to decide upon the mock up designs.

    Another tip when it comes to negotiating a price - a customer would NEVER ask about the price if he/she is not interested in buying.

    I don´t know what kind of price you have in mind, but make it a little higher just to see their reaction.

    If they are about to fall down their chairs, then tell them that you consider them to be an interesting client. And that you are willing to offer them a discount if you can use them as a future reference case to know clients. (who would say no to that? he he) - then offer them a 30-50% discount depending on your price tag.

    Customers love a good discount, especially if they feel they only got that discount because they were bold enough to challenge the price.

    Be confident about yourself - if they ask for some references be prepared. It is not mandatory that you have had similar clients - it is important that you can make some design.

    So bring a few slides with examples of some of the things you have done.

    The best of luck - and keep us updated about the outcome! :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by Outsourcingnerd View Post

      The mock up design idea is a great approach - a lot of customers are always worried that they would say yes and then buy some crap design.

      You have to think about they are not designers, and they honestly not even know completely what they want! :-)

      So make a plan for them - tell them that you know it is not easy to decide when you don´t know the result.

      Joke a bit, and tell it is like trying to sell an oil painting over the phone, without the other person have actually seen it. :-)

      Then, tell them that it is important to you that they feel confident with the design, so therefore you are going to make 3 - 5 mockup designs.

      Then those designs is done you set up a new meeting where they decide which one they like, and they can also decide changes, colors, etc.

      That way you have actually sold the solution already - because they agree that they are going to decide upon the mock up designs.

      Another tip when it comes to negotiating a price - a customer would NEVER ask about the price if he/she is not interested in buying.

      I don´t know what kind of price you have in mind, but make it a little higher just to see their reaction.

      If they are about to fall down their chairs, then tell them that you consider them to be an interesting client. And that you are willing to offer them a discount if you can use them as a future reference case to know clients. (who would say no to that? he he) - then offer them a 30-50% discount depending on your price tag.

      Customers love a good discount, especially if they feel they only got that discount because they were bold enough to challenge the price.

      Be confident about yourself - if they ask for some references be prepared. It is not mandatory that you have had similar clients - it is important that you can make some design.

      So bring a few slides with examples of some of the things you have done.

      The best of luck - and keep us updated about the outcome! :-)
      Thank you for the advise! That's a lot of good ideas I can do, and I'm definitely using majority of 'em.

      I'll definitely update the post as I go by to share what has happened.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sander Zaydman
    Its really funny you mention this. One of my very first client was also a Mayor. 10 Bucks says you will meet with one of her assistants. Be prepared to have some of your other works and testimonials ready. Hint: Even if it is your first client. Best approach to show what you have done for others. Next best approach... talk 10%, listen 90%... How: Simple Ask Very very good questions and Have your questions ready in advance. If you are interested, PM me, I have a whole approach and system for this.
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by Eddie Spangler View Post

      Whatever you do , dont offer to do this for $500, they will not respect you and may doubt your ability.
      $500 is ridiculous for a city website. If this were a bidding situation they would expect to pay from 3k to 10k or more for this service.

      IF you end up taking this little it must be known that it is a favor to the city and come with certain expectation like an official letter of recommendation and whatever else you can get in terms of endorsements.
      I'll definitely have to keep this in mind, thank you again.

      Originally Posted by Sander Zaydman View Post

      Its really funny you mention this. One of my very first client was also a Mayor. 10 Bucks says you will meet with one of her assistants. Be prepared to have some of your other works and testimonials ready. Hint: Even if it is your first client. Best approach to show what you have done for others. Next best approach... talk 10%, listen 90%... How: Simple Ask Very very good questions and Have your questions ready in advance. If you are interested, PM me, I have a whole approach and system for this.
      I'm glad that someone else had a similar problem as I do, I've added you on facebook.
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      • Profile picture of the author RimaNaj2011
        I think I might actually shoot my city's mayor an e-mail. If anything, I know his older brother can help me out since he was an old high school teacher of mine.

        What's the purpose of the city site? I feel as if no one ever goes on those sites.
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  • Regarding your site for the city, I can understand if you're nervous "pitching high" like in the $10k+ range.

    It might be good to have someone to have your back on something like that. Talk to someone like me or one the other more experienced web design type warriors around here. You can be confident going in that no matter what they request of you, you can do it.

    In fact, you can even do that without talking to anyone else - just tell them you can do whatever they want, take copious notes, but do not give them a firm figure until you "discuss the specifications with your designer and programming team".

    Good luck with the pitch.
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  • Profile picture of the author ConnorMarc
    Originally Posted by JCoffey View Post

    Hello all,

    First off, I've been trying to get some local clients for my web development business. I went my city website to look at businesses in the area, and it looked horrible. I figured "what the hell, I can e-mail the mayor, and maybe she'll be interested in hiring me to get them a new website."

    Two days later, I get a reply. Guess what? She digs the idea, and gave me the personal number for the City Administrator to schedule a meeting to get this started.

    Now, here's my problem. This is my first client! Hell of a first client, right? I honestly have no clue how to conduct this meeting to make the sale. I have to plan this out perfectly, and make sure I should convincing enough, but not too much. If I land this client; I instantly just got access to a bunch of "Yes!" answers from other businesses in the county. It's incredible, and I'm extremely stoked that my first client is the mayor of the city I just moved to, this can open up a lot of doors for my company and I.

    Could any of you please suggest some things I should bring to the meeting, or any advise whatsoever? I'd greatly appreciate it!
    Dude...this is great. I'm dying for a high-profile client like this.

    Nevermind that this is your first client, just go in with confidence. Some have posted that you should go in with mock-ups, I say no. Mock-ups of what? This meeting is to present the idea of what you'll be doing for them, which is giving them exactly what you want.

    The purpose of this meeting is to listen, you will find out exactly what they want and get yourself a full scope of the project. Your mission is to come off as professional and knowledgeable as possible.

    What I would suggest is perhaps doing some research so you're able to provide some ideas of things that should be on their site. Research other mayor sites, other politician sites and be able to speak on the features of such a site.

    The reason why a mock-up isn't necessary is that a mock-up should be based on content. I'm guessing that the site needs improvement, which also includes content, perhaps a change in the navigation scheme/architecture structure? That being the case, you should first have that information at hand before any mock-up be presented, design should reflect the content on the site, not the other way around...that's a big and perhaps number one mistake many people make.

    To pad your portfolio just have handy all the projects you've worked on, and by "have handy" I mean just have them top of mind. When I talk to clients/potential clients I'm able to casually and naturally bring up my work and am able to do things like say "just Google"x"" or "look up this site: domain.com", etc. as we chat and show them as I'm discussing various aspects of any given project. If you have about 3 you're golden, anything more is icing.

    I agree with what others have said about the price, this is your golden opportunity to get a nice windfall, since its the government. The smallest amount should be 5K, 10K wouldn't be too much, depending on how small or big it actually is.

    I'm willing to help you in any way I can, this kind of news excites me. So feel free to message me. Good luck buddy, and knock 'em dead.
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by RimaNaj2011 View Post

      I think I might actually shoot my city's mayor an e-mail. If anything, I know his older brother can help me out since he was an old high school teacher of mine.

      What's the purpose of the city site? I feel as if no one ever goes on those sites.
      Do it man! The worst they can say is no.

      Also, that's also what I was thinking; what purpose does a city site have? Well, currently they have none. I'm brainstorming some ideas on how to get the community involved on it an such, to make it a website worth having, and worth paying for.

      Originally Posted by AMcDermott View Post

      Regarding your site for the city, I can understand if you're nervous "pitching high" like in the $10k+ range.

      It might be good to have someone to have your back on something like that. Talk to someone like me or one the other more experienced web design type warriors around here. You can be confident going in that no matter what they request of you, you can do it.

      In fact, you can even do that without talking to anyone else - just tell them you can do whatever they want, take copious notes, but do not give them a firm figure until you "discuss the specifications with your designer and programming team".

      Good luck with the pitch.
      I'm focusing on a presentation on why they absolutely need to keep me around, and was considering on also telling them that my team and I can do all design and web-development related things for them, if they ever need it.

      Originally Posted by ConnorMarc View Post

      Dude...this is great. I'm dying for a high-profile client like this.

      Nevermind that this is your first client, just go in with confidence. Some have posted that you should go in with mock-ups, I say no. Mock-ups of what? This meeting is to present the idea of what you'll be doing for them, which is giving them exactly what you want.

      The purpose of this meeting is to listen, you will find out exactly what they want and get yourself a full scope of the project. Your mission is to come off as professional and knowledgeable as possible.

      What I would suggest is perhaps doing some research so you're able to provide some ideas of things that should be on their site. Research other mayor sites, other politician sites and be able to speak on the features of such a site.

      The reason why a mock-up isn't necessary is that a mock-up should be based on content. I'm guessing that the site needs improvement, which also includes content, perhaps a change in the navigation scheme/architecture structure? That being the case, you should first have that information at hand before any mock-up be presented, design should reflect the content on the site, not the other way around...that's a big and perhaps number one mistake many people make.

      To pad your portfolio just have handy all the projects you've worked on, and by "have handy" I mean just have them top of mind. When I talk to clients/potential clients I'm able to casually and naturally bring up my work and am able to do things like say "just Google"x"" or "look up this site: domain.com", etc. as we chat and show them as I'm discussing various aspects of any given project. If you have about 3 you're golden, anything more is icing.

      I agree with what others have said about the price, this is your golden opportunity to get a nice windfall, since its the government. The smallest amount should be 5K, 10K wouldn't be too much, depending on how small or big it actually is.

      I'm willing to help you in any way I can, this kind of news excites me. So feel free to message me. Good luck buddy, and knock 'em dead.
      Thank you! This is a good suggestion, and I hope you also get the same opportunity as I have gotten. I'll definitely shoot you a message if I have anything left unanswered, and I appreciate the post!
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    In addition to everything Adrian said above, be careful
    you don't get played. Most city governments have local
    ordinances... perhaps even state laws... mandating that
    all projects performed by outside contractors are subject
    to the bid process.

    Ask that question early on... Is this something the city is
    seriously considering? If so, will this be subject to a bidding
    process? You need the answers to those two questions early
    in the conversation so you can write the specs the city will
    then seek bids for.

    You write the specs... you have the advantage.

    With local government you never know who has a relative or
    friend who can do the same thing you're offering to do. It would
    not be unusual for city officials to milk you for information then
    award the contract to someone else.

    I'm not trying to throw cold water on your excitement... I'm just
    letting you know that in the real world of politics and local government
    you need to be aware and cover your butt.
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    • Profile picture of the author JCoffey
      Originally Posted by Tsnyder View Post

      In addition to everything Adrian said above, be careful
      you don't get played. Most city governments have local
      ordinances... perhaps even state laws... mandating that
      all projects performed by outside contractors are subject
      to the bid process.

      Ask that question early on... Is this something the city is
      seriously considering? If so, will this be subject to a bidding
      process? You need the answers to those two questions early
      in the conversation so you can write the specs the city will
      then seek bids for.

      You write the specs... you have the advantage.

      With local government you never know who has a relative or
      friend who can do the same thing you're offering to do. It would
      not be unusual for city officials to milk you for information then
      award the contract to someone else.

      I'm not trying to throw cold water on your excitement... I'm just
      letting you know that in the real world of politics and local government
      you need to be aware and cover your butt.
      What exactly do you mean, bid process? Sorry if it's a dumb question; I just don't know haha.

      But I get what you mean by they could use me to figure out what they want, and hire someone else to do it. But to me, this is a huge opportunity that I cannot miss on. Whether they hire me or not, at least I gave it my best and got a little experience in.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    For an initial meeting, you shouldn't need any composite mockups or wireframes.

    You don't even know what they really want yet.

    Go in with your ears open, listen to them. They already know their website sucks, which is why they agreed to a meeting.

    Have a list of questions prepared to help you understand THEIR NEEDS... NOT WHAT YOU THINK THEY NEED.

    Be the consultant, which means asking questions and listening. Selling isn't telling.
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