Marketing strategies for limited company contractors

Whether you are a limited company contractor, or actually any other kind of business, it's easy to become a one-trick pony with sales and marketing, writes Matt Craven, founder and winning work expert at The CV & Interview Advisors. 

For the avoidance of doubt, I am banging the ‘contractors are a business’ drum here. 

And that’s regardless of whether you are seeking inside IR35 contracts, outside IR35 contracts, or both.  

What’s in a contractor limited company marketing strategy? The three ‘Rs’

Indeed, for any business and somewhat superseding the type of contract in place at a certain time, having a robust, repeatable and results-driven strategy for winning work is crucial to not just success, but to survival.

Inside the contractor sector and beyond it, the most successful businesses I advise develop multiple channels to market, and they use these channels to generate significant quantities of clients (even if the quality may vary). 

Don’t put all your (marketing) eggs in one basket

If you felt that I was referring to you at the top when I called out one-trick ponies, I should acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with focusing on a strategy that works. But relying solely on one approach is risky. It is a perfect example of the adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Instead of being reliant on a single marketing channel, let’s look at five marketing strategies for limited companies – tried and tested at generating you and your business additional work. 

Oh, and these five come with the added bonus of staving off further reliance on recruiters!

Top five marketing strategies for limited company contractors

1. Repeat Business – what contractor limited companies don’t prioritise enough 

I want to address ‘Repeat Business’ first because it’s the limited company contractor marketing strategy that gets me animated!  

In ANY other business, repeat business is the holy grail to being successful. 

If each customer you acquire keeps coming back, you will have a half-decent shot at being successful. Strangely though, contractors often under-exploit this concept and seldom return to the same client again - unless their contract is immediately extended.

My advice is to network like your life (or business) depends on it during a contract. So keep in touch with that contract’s or assignment’s people, and make sure you are front of mind next time they need someone like you.

This helps enormously with limited company marketing strategy 5, below.

2. Leverage LinkedIn – there’s nothing else like it for client outreach 

LinkedIn has over one billion users and among them, are your existing and future clients. 

If you use it correctly, it provides you with the ability to perform highly targeted searches to identify your perfect target audience. It then provides you with the ability to connect with these people.

Crucially, LinkedIn also provides intel that allows you to craft tailored communications.  

You can then reach out to potential clients, add value, have conversations, and nurture connections to a point where they want to do business with you. 

3. Partnerships – aka affiliates, tie-ups and collaborations. Where's yours?

Partnerships are an extremely under-utilised channel to market among the professional, sole-person limited company contracting community.

I often draw comparisons between local tradespersons and professional IT contractors -- usually by pointing to the slickly written, clear, concise, colour-sign on the side of a well-kept van, versus a dog-eared, poorly laid out, homemade CV

There’s an even better illustration for collaborations.

My partner's son is a plasterer, and his pal is a painter/decorator. It’s not rocket science, but each time one of them wins a customer, they pull the other one in to provide a more complete service. It’s an obvious strategy, with usually higher prices for the duo and happier clients chuffed at getting a total refurb.

But why aren’t Software Developers buddying up with Solutions Architects? Why aren’t Project Managers collaborating with Business Analysts? 

On one hand, it seems so obvious, but on the other hand, it feels like a radical approach. I’m sure there are a 101 objections which could be found for this tie-up idea, and I’m aware agency contracts are often super specific.

But if partnerships work in practically every other business environment, why can’t they work for limited company contractors? 

4. Networking – the ‘who you know’ is the best bolt-on to ‘what you know’ 

Networking is the easiest of all these five limited company marketing strategies to execute – it’s a simple case of consistently and strategically connecting with the right people and building relationships. 

By connecting with the right people, presenting yourself positively, and maintaining regular contact, you will increase your visibility and access to more opportunities than if you were to hide away, contracting in a silo, isolated from the world. 

In short, the more people you are connected with, the more people you have conversations with, the more likely it is that an opportunity will come your way.

LinkedIn is one of the key places where this activity takes place. Make it your business policy to never dismiss a connection request or (human!) encounter and you may be surprised at the results.

5. Thought Leadership – if you’re not your field’s ‘go-to’ expert, someone else is…

Thought Leadership is all about positioning yourself as an expert in your field.

It’s about promoting this expertise rather than flying under the radar, and contractors who are seen as subject matter experts or ‘go-to’ people in their professional sphere are more likely to attract high-paying contract roles. 

Once again, LinkedIn is an excellent platform to communicate your expertise to the world through posts and articles, but there are more advanced Thought Leadership strategies than that - such as public speaking gigs, webinars, and podcasts.

For people with stage fright or who are still developing their skills, contributing to or publishing research is a great tactic, as is commenting on other contributors’ posts, articles, or news feeds.

Therefore, Thought Leadership’s must-do is developing your niche skills or expertise into market-ready content; be that written or spoken content. It’s crucial to a have strong Thought Leadership strategy as part of any comprehensive limited company marketing strategy.

So consider jumping on our upcoming webinar  on Wednesday May 22nd - where we will spend the best part of an hour delving into some of the more advanced, possibly nuanced Thought Leadership hacks, and how ‘TL’ can become key to unlocking premium rate contract work. You can register for the webinar, which is free of charge to join here:

Monday 20th May 2024
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Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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