In marketing, you should always diversify your efforts.
This ensures that if one of your methods fails, your other methods still have a chance. This also allows you to be reaching a wider segment of the population, and thus increases your likelihood of finding good clients.
Networking: Tell people you know that you are starting up a business. Let them know you are looking for clients. At this point, it is careful to strike a point between enthusiasm in passing conversation, and the obnoxious guy who tries to sell his widgets to everybody he encounters. Make sure what you say is concise and relevant to the conversation. “Hi, isn’t this rain awful?” “I just started a business consulting about widgets” is a great way to make all your neighbors run for the hills whenever they see you. Set reasonable rates for friends and family – this is a business, and doing all of your work for free will not result in more business – or it will, and you will be expected to do that for free too. If you are giving a friend a discount, be sure and tell her “I normally charge _____”. If one of her friends calls and wants something done for the same rate, carefully explain that you normally charge _____, and you gave your friend a deal because she did you favor X. Maybe you can add something into the package for her friend, like a small discount.
Word of Mouth Referrals: This is a great way to get extra business, and to build your clientele, which is why you should try to keep your good clients happy. You can take advantage of word of mouth, because people trust what other people say about a business, even complete strangers, by having a customer feedback section on your website, where customers can post about their experience with your company. Most of the people you will be working with will know other people in their field who may also need your business. A HR manager in charge of a team building project may find it easiest to call another HR manager that they are friends with and ask who they hired to do the exercise, rather than going out and finding a new resource.
Cold Calling: This is everyone’s least favorite method of marketing. Cold calling involves calling up a company and asking a person at that company if their company needs someone like you. The important thing is to be polite, and if they express any interest, offer to send them a package to show them more information. Don’t try to keep them on the line – if what you’re trying to sell them is supposed to make their business more efficient, show them you understand efficiency. Get their name and send them a package of information about how your services can make their company a better place to work, or keep their company moving efficiently.