Three marketing must-dos as an IT contractor in 2024-25

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Whether you are operating inside or outside IR35, relying solely on online applications to find a new contract is rather one-dimensional, writes Matt Craven, founder and winning work expert at The CV & Interview Advisors.

In the case of outside IR35 contractors, this one-trick pony approach could be deemed somewhat misaligned with the concept of being a commercial contractor, and not in keeping with the ‘in business on your own account’ aspect of IR35!

Regardless of tax status, having multiple channels to market will help you maintain a consistent flow of business and maximise income.

So, with this in mind, here are three IT contractor marketing must-dos for 2024-25 -- my three freelance brand strategies I recommend contractors in tech adopt to attract more (lucrative) opportunities.

1. LinkedIn Outreach

We can look at LinkedIn in two ways -- many people think of it as a big social media platform, but I prefer to look at it the second way  -- as a huge database where contractors can find and contact potential clients.

With over one billion members, it’s also no surprise that LinkedIn is where recruiters are searching for and finding talent.

There are lots of tactics you can adopt to attract these recruiters, ranging from the way you write your LinkedIn profile to how you engage with the platform (day-to-day) to boost your visibility.

But let’s focus on how to build a proactive business development strategy to directly target clients.

Upgrading to the Business Premium or Sales Navigator license will help here. Please think of the potential ROI -- £58 a month is a small amount to invest in a platform that gives you access to over one billion users.

And Sales Navigator doubles up as a mini-CRM, so that helps to keep track of your sales activity.

In simple terms, you can:

  • create sophisticated searches to find your ideal potential clients

  • save these searches

  • use LinkedIn to research the interests and needs of your target audience

  • connect with this audience and others including influencers

  • put your own LinkedIn posts in front of your target audience/influencers, and you can communicate with them through messages and InMail.

Pretty damn good for just £58, eh?!

The devil is in the detail though, and the way you contact and communicate with potential clients is key. However, using a networking and business development strategy can be a great way to generate contracting work.

Of course, having a cracking LinkedIn profile helps and you can get some free feedback on yours with me, here:

2. Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership is the process of becoming a recognised expert in a specific professional arena.

Thought leaders have their own thoughts and ideas that are of value to others. Being seen as a genuine expert has obvious benefits, but let’s have a look at some statistics.

According to LinkedIn itself, users who share their knowledge see a 10-fold increase in profile views. Forbes reports that leaders who are recognised as Thought Leaders command higher remuneration.

LinkedIn further claims that users with a higher Social Selling Index or ‘SSI’ (which is a measure of your industry profile), achieve promotion 17 months faster than peers with a low SSI -- and it says Thought Leadership can lead to more RFPs (Requests for Proposals), with 45% of decision-makers saying they invited an organisation to bid on a project after reading their content.

The journey to becoming a Thought Leader starts with identifying an area of expertise.

It’s then about developing one’s proprietary thoughts and ideas – we call that PIP (Personal Intellectual Property). This PIP then gets released into the wild through writing and talking, which could be articles, blogs, books, podcasts, webinars, or other types of presentations. Invariably in 2024-25, LinkedIn is a key part of that.

Being seen as a bona fide expert in your professional area will help you to command a higher rate and attract more high-profile contract opportunities.

3. Land Repeat Business

I could have chosen a variety of marketing strategies for the third IT contractor marketing must-do!

Social proofing and testimonials are powerful, search engine optimisation for websites and LinkedIn can be a game changer, and email marketing is completely under-utilised by contractors.

But in a nod to something more classic and timeless, I have decided to opt for ‘repeat business’.

Why repeat business? Well, if we are drawing comparisons with most other types of business, encouraging clients to return and buy again -- and again, is just common sense.

Strangely though, IT contractors seem to seldom go back and work for the same client a second time. I often wonder why this is. Maybe it just feels too easy and almost cheating?!

The thing is, large organisations are constantly transforming and changing, with ongoing needs for flexible and finite resources in tech. Networking during a contract and keeping in touch with decision-makers after a contract has ended are easy and obvious ways to be front of mind when a new opportunity comes around.

We could use a plethora of cliches here:

  • “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

  • "Connections can open doors that qualifications cannot”, and finally,

  • "Your network is your net worth”

All these truisms are all making the same point.

I recommend building and nurturing relationships with clients and keeping in touch with them on a regular basis. Do this to let them know you enjoyed working there and so that they can let you know as and when new opportunities arise -- you’ll be surprised how often this pays dividends!

Written by

Matt Craven

The CV & Interview Advisors

Matt is the Founder and CEO of The CV & Interview Advisors who have been providing award-winning and 5-star rated winning-work services to independent professionals for over 18 years. He is recognised as a global expert in personal branding, winning-work, and career development, and his company has helped over 30,000 professionals and executives in more than 70 countries. A significant percentage of these customers are contractors, freelancers and interims who engage Matt’s team to create compelling CVs and LinkedIn profiles, enhance their interview/client meeting skills, and embed winning-work strategies that help them secure high paying contracts more frequently.

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