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This article was prepared for the January 23, 2002 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Where Did All the Customers Go?
Once upon a time David Barry did virtually no
marketing for his company, David Barry Consulting, a marketing
firm that works with customers in high tech industries. Now, Barry,
who moved his business from California to William Livingston Court
in Princeton several years ago, spends 20 to 25 percent of his time
The downturn in high tech has affected Barry’s company — whose
longtime clients include Cisco, Intel, and Apple — as it has
every business that caters to high tech firms. On Thursday, January
31, at 4 p.m. Barry speaks on "Where Did All the Customers
at an event sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council, and taking
place at the Sarnoff Corporation. Cost: $40. Call 856-787-9700.
Barry, who grew up in Westfield, returned to New Jersey because he
and his wife, Susan Barry, an art therapist at the Carrier Clinic,
and also a New Jersey native, wanted to move back east. Barry, a
of Syracuse University (Class of 1976), went to California after
and worked as a freelance writer for a number of publications,
the San Jose Mercury News, before taking a job with PR firm Regis
McKenna. There he worked with high tech clients, and found he enjoyed
"helping them deliver a message," a process which, he says
wryly, "can take some doing."
With skills and contacts under his belt, Barry went out on his own,
writing white papers, presentations, websites, brochures, and annual
reports for clients whose businesses are not always easy for the
to understand. Largely from word of mouth, he built a client roster
that kept him busy for a number of years. But by the time he moved
back east, tech was in trouble, and keeping an even flow of work
a somewhat greater challenge.
Barry had to work at keeping projects flowing in, and found these
techniques valuable in doing so:
this is his most important piece of advice. "Pick a segment,"
he says. And really get to know it. That way, when you call a
client, "they know you are familiar with their issues, you speak
their language." Clients can feel that "right away," he
says. There’s no faking an intimate knowledge of medical equipment
or semiconductors. You know the players and the issues, or you don’t.
word of mouth. Strive to make every project fit a client’s needs
and the word will get around. Working with a client is
Barry says. As work progresses, he asks: "Is this what you’re
trying to say?" It’s a matter of honing the work until it is
for the client’s purposes. "You’re trying to get down to what
they want," says Barry.
He has seen that many writers write what they want, not realizing
that they have to listen to the client every step of the way.
with potential clients than by sending E-mail, but no better way to
make enemies than by sending cold E-mail. Everyone’s in-box is
and few people have any interest in opening mail from people they
don’t know. Warm up E-mail by keeping a list of E-contacts, and
them notes about matters of mutual interest. Barry has found this
an excellent way to keep his business fresh in the minds of clients
and potential clients.
groups to join, and then participate enthusiastically. This is a fine
way to make contacts and build business.
good speakers. Think of interesting, helpful subjects, prepare
presentations, then contact Chambers of Commerce, trade groups,
groups, or niche groups (Latino women entrepreneurs, for example)
and offer your services. You will meet potential clients, and gain
the issue of dropping prices in a down economy. "It’s an
he admits, but he doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Where a client is
exerting pressure, he says it’s better to come up with an idea that
will preserve rates, while still saving the client money. Sometimes,
Barry says, he will suggest that a client’s in-house writer come up
with a draft that he will then polish.
that serve high tech companies. Someday — maybe soon — there
will again be too much work, and marketing will seem unnecessary.
When the big issue is getting everything done, rather than pulling
in enough work, marketing often goes out the window. It’s hard to
make time for it. Still, says Barry, it is a good idea to keep lessons
learned in a downturn in mind, and make marketing an integral part
of every business.
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