Article #66, February, 2008
Do Not Wait Around to Get Clients!
If you market your small business in traditional ways, you spend a lot of your precious time waiting - waiting for them to find you.
For example, if you advertise in print or on line, you create the best ad possible, within your budget. Then you place the ad, within your budget. The advertising rule of thumb is that it needs to be exposed at least 6 - 8 times before you can expect any response. If you have advertised in a monthly publication, you could be waiting the better part of a year before getting *any* return on your investment.
Networking in groups is similar in some ways. Although it's often less expensive than advertising, you may still have to wait months and months before the relationships you are building begin to pay off.
Waiting. That is not very efficient marketing.
In addition to the marketing strategies that you know will work, but require waiting, be more pro-active!
Identify places where your target market gathers, and other services they use that are related to your business. Now put the two together - what kinds of businesses can you identify, that are complementary to yours, who have the same target market as you? Make a list on paper and evaluate it.
Now identify a few businesses from your list with whom you would like to develop a business relationship to get clients now. Perhaps you can refer clients to each other, or maybe they will send clients to you and you reward them.
Next, develop a step-by-step plan to get to know them and build a friendly business relationship. Will you take them out for coffee or lunch? Bring muffins to their office? During this time, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and be honest about it. Try to get them to commit to sending you referrals.
NOTE: be sure to ask your new alliance what they would say when they refer you, and give them words if they need them.
This creation of strategic alliances gives you more control over your marketing and can be extremely fruitful.
Another important action you can take to get new clients is to get on the phone! Create a system for closing new prospects. How do you convince prospects to have a sales meeting with you? Do you offer something free, like a consultation or needs analysis? If not, what form does your sales meeting take?
Your prospects need to be motivated to meet with you so you have the opportunity to close the sale. Create your systematic approach around this motivation. This approach should also be spelled out in a step-by-step plan.
For example - you meet someone you think would be a great client at a networking meeting. You call to follow up within 3 days of the meeting. Make sure you have a script to follow, outlining briefly why they would benefit from meeting with you. Don't get ahead of yourself and sell your service until you get to the sales meeting!
You bring your sales meeting agenda to the meeting, controlling the meeting and leading the prospect toward the close. When all their questions are answered, you ask for the sale.
Now get out there and get yourself some new clients!