From the July 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: I own a software/ Web site design company that's had little success with radio and newspaper ads. What are we doing wrong?

A: Typically, companies rely on word-of-mouth when they're looking for the types of services you offer, which means you want your existing clients to talk you up. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Ask your clients to write testimonial letters. Add these to your collateral materials to show prospects. It's even OK to draft the letter yourself and ask your client to sign off on it. For guidelines, log on to www.laceyleigh.com/notes.pdf.
  • If clients are fully satisfied with your work, ask them at the end of a project to give you three referrals. Offer them a slight discount in return.
  • If you continue to advertise, be sure to invest in at least six print ads-more if you advertise on the radio. Spread the ads out. So if you advertise in the Sunday paper, advertise every other week for 12 weeks to maximize your ad dollars. But unless your budget is unlimited, ads don't pay off for companies that get most of their business through referrals. The best first step is to ask clients to spread the word.

Nancy Michaels is president of ImpressionImpact.com, a marketing consulting company. Reach her at .