Is it going to be a good year for you and your firm? Kind of hard to say, as this point, isn’t it? But one thing is sure… you can’t just sit back and hope that something good will happen. You need to grab the bull by the horns and make it a great year!
To help get you started down the path of being proactive, here are 11 proven ideas to consider…
Meet New People (i.e. Lead Generation)
#1. Go to a new conference this year. Find one where a large gathering of your target audience will be (and not so many of your competitors), get a ticket and go. Walk around, network like crazy, collect a ton of business cards… then come back and follow-up. And if it turns out to be a really good event, consider expanding your presence there next year as a speaker, sponsor or exhibitor.
#2. Take notes. Here’s a smart tip to use when you’re at that new conference… After chatting with someone and swapping business cards, most people stick the card in their pocket and move on. And after meeting with 40 or 50 people over 2 or 3 days, there’s no way you’ll remember all of the conversations – unless you take notes. So, do this… take a 3”x5” notepad with you and write down detailed notes after each conversation – the kind of firm, what you talked about, challenges they mentioned, any personal notes, next steps, etc. Now you have everything you need for targeted, effective follow-up.
#3. Create a lead magnet… that is, something on your website that people have to register for to access. And when they register, you’ve generated a sales lead. Think about publishing an eBook or a Tip Sheet or producing a webinar. The keys to success with this are the content (well-written, well-designed, and addressing a real need of your target audience), setting up a compelling landing page (with a simple form that visitors complete), then promoting the heck out of it with email, social media, on your website homepage, with digital ads and more.
#4. Get webchat. Hundreds of people visit your website each month. And some of them will have questions about what you do. Why not make every communications channel available to them… phone, email, web form and webchat. A lot of people will have questions but don’t want to talk to a sales rep for fear of being ‘sold something,’ so make it easy for them. Have someone monitor your webchat and engage with visitors when those visitors are at their most interested.
Fish Where the Fish Are (i.e. Invest Some Time in Selling)
#5. Old friends. Block off a little time every week to reach out to old clients and old prospects. If you’re like most firms that have been around for a while, you likely have a database of hundreds (maybe thousands?) of former clients, prospects and contacts that haven’t heard from you in a while. Pick up the phone, reach out to them and try to rekindle some sort of relationship. The worst that can happen is that you update your database for future use.
#6. Add on a day or two. You’re probably going to a couple of conferences this year, right? Then why not add a day or two on to the trip and schedule a handful of meetings with prospective clients in that town? It might cost you an extra day in a hotel and another day of the rental car, but that’s a small price to pay for those face-to-face opportunities.
Differentiate or Die (i.e. Give buyers a reason to pick you)
#7. Become a Subject Matter Expert (#1). Get in the habit of blogging… share your knowledge, expertise, opinion and vision. Inform & educate, don’t sell. More is better. Get in the habit of writing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Become known for something.
#8. Become a Subject Matter Expert (#2). Remember this… your blog has no value if no one reads it, so as important as the writing of the blog is the promotion of the blog. Each time you post a new blog, promote it in email, on social media and make sure it’s easy to find on your website.
#9. Survey your clients & ex-clients. Not post-project surveys, but an annual perception survey – make sure they think about you the way you think they think about you. Ask questions like, “Why did you choose us the very first time vs. other similar firms?” or “What – if anything – do we do that’s unique in the marketplace?” and (for ex-clients) “Why did you leave us… and who are you using now?” Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what’s inside the heads of your clients.
#10. The competition. Once every quarter, spend some time browsing through your key competitors’ websites. Keep an eye on what they’re doing – have they added any new services, facilities or key personnel? How are they positioning themselves? Are they doing anything that’s unique?
#11. Put it all together. Now, take everything you learned from the surveys, combine it what you saw on your competitors’ websites, sprinkle in your knowledge of the industries you serve and trends in the Market Research industry and from that, determine your true Point of Differentiation… that one thing that sets you apart… that one thing that is the answer to the buyer’s question: “Why should we hire you?” Tip 1: Don’t do this at the office. Get away to a cabin in the woods for a few days, free from all the distractions… and free yourself to be open to new ideas. Tip 2: Bring in an outsider to facilitate the conversation… make sure the biases of the owner/leader don’t sway the decision-making.
2019 can be your best year ever… but it’s not going to happen all by itself. And it’s not going to happen if you rely on the same old marketing & sales activities. This year, be smart, be proactive and try something new!
And good luck!