“You may not be able to read a doctor’s handwriting and prescription, but you’ll notice his bills are neatly typewritten” – Earl Wilson
Although many people don’t understand exactly what a doctor does, they do generally know when they need one. The amount of people who expect their doctors visit to be expensive is even higher than the number of people who are aware of their need for healthcare. The situation is slightly bleaker for the qualified IT professional, working as a SAS programmer means you are an expert in a field in which the common person has less understanding of the inner workings of your job than they do of their doctor. Although most company higher-ups have a general understanding of the type of IT professional that is needed for their project, you are still facing a knowledge barrier. To overcome this barrier and distinguish yourself to prospective employers exemplary marketing skills are required.
In his book, How to Become a Top SAS Programmer, Michael Raithel states that “The truth is that any organization will pay only so much to its computer programming staff,” stating this as one of the top reasons for SAS programmers to consider marketing their services to individual clients as freelancers. When you start your own SAS business you determine what billable price you put on your services, instead of accepting a set annual salary. Starting a SAS business comes with its own set of difficulties, but the rewards can be high for professionals who are able to work as independent contractors or who decide to incorporate their own small business. With a good marketing plan, you will begin successfully building your client list.
- Determine your ideal clients- Determining your ideal clients will have a significant impact on the type of content you share and how you determine your marketing efforts. When beginning as an SAS programmer, find out where your competition finds their clients. Ask a mentor or leader in your professional groups for advice on the companies who hire SAS programmers within your specialty. Project size and time frame are also important aspects to consider when endeavoring to work with new clients. Figure out how many projects you can juggle at a time and how much time you want to spend working with each client. Determining your own schedule and contracts involves finding clients who meet not only your price requirements, but who are a good fit for you in other aspects as well. According to IT Pro Today, it is important to narrow down your target market into Geographic Location, to target your preferred customer. Decide if you are willing to travel to an ideal client or if you only want to work with clients within your region. This will help you in marketing to clients in your area and can help you decide other aspects of your marketing plan, for example, which networking events that you want to attend, and how you want your business to appear on search engine results.
- Create a Plan to Become Highly Visible on Search Engines- Making sure that your business ranks in search engines is important to gaining clients. You’ll want to focus all aspects of your online marketing content to be easily accessible to potential employers and clients. Make sure that your content is shared on social media sites and that you have a high-ranking presence is important. Listing services in an online directory is a great way to increase your search rankings. Use Google Analytics to track your website visitors and ads created for your business.
- Maintain a Website blog with Great Content- Creating content for a blog can be done in a variety of ways, consider Youtube, how-to posts, videos, and ebooks. If you teach online courses, you can promote your classes on your website. Teaching other programmers helps you stand out as an authority in the industry. Instructions and Guides in PDF formats are great content pieces to include in your blog. Interviewing others in the industry and posting the long form interviews on your website can be highly interesting to others in the industry. This type of content works very well and can get high page views. Hire a transcriptionist to transcribe a recorded interview or conversation that would be of interest to your blog readers.
- Attend Relevant Networking Events- Attending networking events that put you directly in front of your target client is a strong marketing technique. Use the opportunity to distinguish yourself from other potential candidates. Make sure that you let potential clients know that you are available for potential work and ask questions about their workplace goals. Asking questions about your client’s goals help you to know if you want to work with them and will help you to send more targeted emails and other communications with them in the future.
- Learn to explain what you do- Clients do not need to understand the ins and outs of what you do, but they want to know how you can help their company. Practice an elevator pitch that qualifies these questions. For example, if you write SAS programs that help clients to quickly sort through their customer’s data and perform analyses this could be a great thing to mention in your elevator pitch. It’s easy to understand “I help your company to understand it’s clients better and I can write targeted programs to help you beat the competition.”
- Practice Telling Clients Solutions You Provide- Each time you speak with a prospective client on the phone or at a networking event, you have an opportunity to demonstrate how you can change the game for their company. To leave your clients salivating at the thought of working with you, come up with three to four stories that demonstrate your past success with former clients. Think of this as an oral resume. It needs to be targeted at the success you’ve brought to companies. Practice this like an acting script so you aren’t nervous at event and consider making your oral resume available in videos on your website.
- Successfully Use Social Media Platforms- Learn to use social media platforms the right way. Focus on sharing informational content about your industry. The best way to keep a clean social media page is by not sharing negative opinions about others. If it’s tempting to share views that aren’t work-related, consider hiring an assistant to manage your social media. If it is in your budget, purchase a pro version of LinkedIn to speak directly with company representatives you are interested in working with. If you don’t have a twitter account and want to grow your followers, a service like Twiends, can help you increase your follower number quickly and organically.
- Join Sharing Tribes and Content Sharing Sources- Hootsuite, Buffer, Quu to help you schedule your social media posts. Quu allows you to pick from over 500 topics that would be of interest to your audience and then shares others content on your social media pages. This helps to connect you with others who are interested in your industry. Plus, it helps you to share more content.
- Create an Interactive Experience for Clients- Clients enjoy an interactive experience and will appreciate you creating a resume that shows them instead of telling them what you can do. Focus on your strengths through creatively demonstrating your skills in an online resume.
- Create a Client Portfolio- Once you start getting clients, make sure to ask for recommendations and reviews. Reviews from clients helps to show others you are trustworthy and a quality programmer.
When you are beginning your efforts in marketing your SAS business remember that one of the best ways to market your business is getting great reviews and recommendations from your clients. Using your current network to expand your business is a great way to begin. These tips will help you grow your online presence quickly and efficiently. Creating an attention-grabbing marketing plan will enable you to get your SAS business started and allow you begin establishing your client portfolio.