Promoting yourself to direct clients

“I’d like to look for direct clients but I can see how
sending a CV wouldn’t be appropriate. What kind of
“promotional material” should I send? In what format? How
should I follow up on it?”

There’s no reason not to send a CV, provided you feel the client will understand it. Agencies will know what the letters after your name mean, direct clients might not; on the other hand ex-employers may be recognisable names to direct clients. I wouldn’t name clients without their permission.

The answer, as so often, is “it depends” – depends on the type of customer and how you want to come across. If you are dealing with small manufacturing businesses you have identified as exporters, the kind of postcard or flyer you get through the door from small tradesmen may work. When accountants or solicitors promote themselves, on the other hand, they often write fairly long letters, so you can do the same thing with them – the “must” I think is heavy, expensive notepaper so that you look like a serious professional.

In other words, use whatever you think will make your target client feel you are “their kind of people”: some people like to read the details, others are happy just to register the basic facts.

I would recommend a high-end language style, though, including with smaller businesses. But if you have, say, 20 small businesses to contact it might be a good idea to test what works best, and send a flashy “Are you in despair talking to foreign customers? Don’t know where to turn? I am the solution to all your problems” to ten of them and a more “professional” “I have X to offer and wondered if you ever had need of such services; I have been working successfully in field Y for Z years” communication to the other ten.

A properly produced leaflet is also possible, and not that expensive these days.

How about a simple letter or email with a reference to your website?

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