For better or worse, we work in a feast-or-famine industry… business vacillates up and down, often for no apparent reason. But one thing is fairly consistent… our industry usually slows down in the summer. Client projects dwindle, families go on vacation, the kids are out of school, etc.
But rather than bemoan the slowdown in your business, maybe you should take advantage of the extra time on your hands to focus on building it… to plan out and execute some marketing & sales activities.
And here’s the best part… aside from not costing much money, even if you decide to get away for a few days… most of these suggestions can be done from the beach with an internet connection.
Plan your fall conference schedule. Take a look at the fall conference season and decide which events you want to attend, the ones where you want to exhibit and those you want to send a colleague to. Most of the big events – ESOMAR, CASRO, TMRE, CRC and so on – take place from late September through November. Plan now to get them on your calendar, book early to save on your air travel, make sure you can reserve a hotel room at the venue and give yourself plenty of time to prepare (how’s your inventory of business cards?).
Update your website. When was the last time you took a ‘critical’ look at your website – the design, the structure and content? For design, get a professional involved – there’s nothing worse than a website that’s homemade or outdated… or both. Get some people unfamiliar with the site to put it through its paces – to navigate everywhere and give their feedback on the ease of navigation and any broken links. Lastly, we have a habit in this industry of writing what we think our clients & prospects want to read, rather than what they want to read (and believe me – there’s a huge gap!). So, before you update the content – let some of the people it was intended for – your clients & prospects – read through it. For more website improvement ideas, Click Here.
Spend some time learning about marketing & sales. Most people in our industry are not marketing or sales pros… though, to help with the growth of the firms, they need to be. So, spend some time this summer accessing available resources – almost all of them for free. Set up Google Alerts for specific marketing & sales topics, sign up to receive enewsletters from knowledgeable experts (Click Here to subscribe to ours), join marketing-related LinkedIn groups, search Twitter with hashtag terms like ‘#marketing’ or ‘#selling,’ scroll through aggregator sites like www.AllTop.com, subscribe to magazines, read a book and so on and so on. Yes, it really is possible to teach on old dog new tricks!
Don’t just post on social media… engage. Social media marketing is about two things – posting/sharing (which most of us do reasonably well) and engaging/commenting (which many of us don’t do – at all). This summer, make a concerted effort to engage in threaded dialogues on LinkedIn groups (or even start a discussion), re-tweet a great tweet that you come across, add to the ‘Comments’ section at the end of someone’s blog post and so on. Your engagement in those discussions builds awareness for you and helps to showcase your expertise.
Clean up your databases. Most likely, you have two databases that need tending to… your in-house/sales/CRM database and your LinkedIn connections. For efficiency sake – end effectiveness sake – both of these lists need to be as clean, accurate and up-to-date as possible. Scroll through your CRM list… Do all emails looks properly formed? Are there any competitors listed? Anyone from an industry/geography that you don’t service? Do you need to segment the list – e.g. clients, prospects, suppliers, competitors, by industry, etc.? And with LinkedIn… make sure you ‘tag’ your list (the LinkedIn way of segmenting your connections). Also, when you get your daily LinkedIn email and see that one of your connections has changed jobs – go back to your CRM and update it appropriately. Finally, when you get the “bounce back” report from your email blasts, use that to help clean up your lists, too.
Create a marketing & sales calendar. Marketing and sales are not magic. The success comes from doing a little something every day… from paying attention to the steps in the process and executing when needed. A simple calendar of activities – an excel spreadsheet works fine – will help. Remember to break things down into their individual steps… e.g. placing an ad in Quirk’s might be one item on your calendar, but it’s actually the last step in a multi-step process:
- ad space reserved with Quirk’s
- define ad concept/message
- write ad
- ad copy approved/updated
- ad designed
- ad design approved/updated
- ad sent to Quirk’s by deadline
- ad posted
So, think about all of the little steps for each of your marketing and sales tactics, assign a due date to each step and then put all of that in a simple calendar that everyone can follow.
Create an editorial calendar. A subset of your marketing & sales calendar is your editorial calendar. Here, you’ll spend some time thinking about and planning what content (articles, eBooks, blog posts, webinars, etc.) that you want to make available to the public. Think about broad topics, then specific topics, what form it will take, who will do the writing (and designing, if necessary), and any notes to help the writer. Even if all you’re doing is a weekly blog post… there’s nothing more stressful than waking up the day a post is due and having no idea what you’ll be writing about! Don’t let that happen to you.
Perfect your elevator pitch. Most pitches go like this…”I’m Mary Jones with Jones Research… we’re a full-service firm in Chicago.” Typical… and pretty pathetic. How is that going to elicit any sort of response? While there are several ways to enhance an elevator pitch, here’s a singular idea that can really help. At the end of your standard pitch, add this, “And what makes us unique is [fill in the blank].” Your ability to define and deliver a true point of differentiation will make all the difference.
Blitz a city. Pick one city where you have 5 or 6 sales prospects (or more) and plan a 2 or 3-day trip to visit them. Schedule meetings with as many of them as you can. Don’t go just to sell… go to help. E.g. deliver a lunch-n-learn to their staff on the newest technology or methodology. Also go to get to know them better. E.g. take a couple of key contacts out for dinner. Nothing can improve a relationship like some face-to-face time.
The bottom line is this: Don’t let the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer get you down. Embrace the lull in your business to help build your company.