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April 6, 2020

Stuck-at-home marketing & sales, part 4

Low-cost/no-cost marketing & sales ideas #19-23…

If you’ve been following along the past few weeks (3/18, 3/24, 3/31), we’ve explored 18 different marketing & sales activities you could employ while you’ve got a little extra time on your hands during the pandemic. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Get active on LinkedIn
  2. Employ email marketing
  3. Write and publish
  4. Host a webinar
  5. Update your website
  6. Clean up your CRM/database
  7. Improve your sales & marketing skills
  8. Create an editorial calendar
  9. Reach out to former clients
  10. Use current clients to help you sell
  11. Order some ‘thank you’ note cards
  12. Check out the competition
  13. Update your capabilities presentation
  14. Clean up your LinkedIn connections
  15. Start implementing A/B testing with your eNewsletters
  16. Create ‘Key Account Plans’
  17. Set-up and begin tracking marketing & sales KPIs
  18. Conduct a critical review of your LinkedIn profile

In this last article of the series, I want to share 5 more ideas for you to consider.

#19. Define your POD – Point(s) of Differentiation

Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes for a second and answer this question: “Why should I hire you when there are a lot of good, similar competitors out there?”

It’s a real dilemma for buyers. There is so much ‘sameness’ in our industry, how do they choose? Try this: go to the website of three random competitors. There’s a really strong chance that the copy on those websites reads an awful lot like yours. You provide the same kinds of services to the same kinds of companies and industries. You all overuse phrases like, “senior level involvement,” “great customer service” and “actionable insights.” Those are all good things… but if every firm says them, how do you stand out?

During this pandemic would be a good time for you and your colleagues to talk about this… to think strategically about this… and begin to define just what makes you different/special/unique. If you’d like a little help getting started with this, download our eBook, Why Should I Choose You? How to Differentiate your Firm in a Crowded Marketplace when you Click Here.

#20. Get [and use] a CRM

For those of you who don’t have a CRM platform – or for those who are using an Excel spreadsheet as a low-cost alternative – now would be the time to do a little research on a CRM platform that would work well for your firm.

Not only is a CRM a repository for all client information, but it’s where copies of all client emails are kept, notes about all conversations are stored, copies of important files are housed, where projects/proposals are tracked and where you can plan all of your follow-up activities with clients. That way, you have a chronological history of every client/prospect relationship – in one place – so that nothing falls through the cracks. As importantly, if a key client-facing employee leaves, you know exactly what he/she has been doing with each of their contacts.

Here are a few CRM options to help start your search:

#21. Employ customer satisfaction surveys

I am amazed at the high percentage of MR firms that don’t do any research on the work they do for their clients. Remember this, the #1 reason clients keep coming back to you is because of the quality of your work. Happy clients also provide testimonials and referrals. You MUST ensure that the quality of your work remains at the highest level to help grow your business or to, at least, maintain it.

As researchers, I don’t need to tell you how to ask C-SAT questions, but I will give you a couple of guidelines to consider for the post-project survey process:

  • Send a second invitation to complete the survey if the client doesn’t respond to the first one within 72 hours.
  • Provide them an incentive to complete it… a charitable donation seems to work really well.
  • The invitation should come from the CEO/President, not the project manager.
  • Share the results with your entire firm once a quarter. Let them know how important this is and how they’re doing.
  • Use the results to hold accountable and help manage/develop those who are responsible for unacceptable results.

#22. Develop a piece of ‘gated’ content

‘Gated’ content refers to those pieces of content that cannot be accessed until the visitors give you their contact information (by filling out a form on your website). Generally, these are the higher value kinds of content – eBooks, Webinars, White Papers, etc. This kind of content is a great way to build awareness in the marketplace (as you promote it), position you or your firm as subject matter experts and, of course, generate sales leads.

The 4 key elements of gated content are:

  • Well-written copy that addresses the key interests/issues of the targeted reader; it cannot be salesy
  • In most cases, a sharp, professional design that’s consistent with your brand.
  • A form or landing page on your website for data capture
  • A strong promotional program of email marketing, social media marketing, digital ads, etc. to maximize downloads

Note: not all gated content needs to be “big” and “expensive.”  Even smaller pieces – as long as they provide real value to the reader/participant – are still worthy of being gated. To see an example of Harpeth Marketing’s “short form” gated content, Click Here to download one of our Tip Sheets.

Not all gated content needs to be “big” and “expensive.” Even smaller pieces – as long as they provide real value to the reader/participant – are still worthy of being gated. Click To Tweet

#23. Establish a Sales Pipeline report

Whether it’s built-in to your CRM, tracked in Excel or handwritten on a bunch of sticky-notes hanging on the wall (which I hope is not the case), knowing and managing your sales pipeline is critical to your success. We define a sales pipeline as a tool that tracks the steps in the buyer-seller relationship from the minute a new company/contact is added to the CRM/database. Note: many firms have a pipeline to track the status of bids, but we’re talking about starting long before that.

While you can define them however you’d like, here’s an example of what the steps in the process might be:

  1. New lead
  2. Introductory call
  3. More in-depth call(s)
  4. Present capabilities
  5. Request for Proposal
  6. New client

What you’re looking for as your review your firm’s pipeline is that:

  • New sales leads are continuously being added the top of the pipeline
  • The companies in it are progressing through the steps

This tool is very helpful for forecasting revenue, as well as serving as a management tool when providing guidance to your ‘sales team.’

Conclusion

OK… one last time: If you’ve got some extra time on your hands as a result of the pandemic, don’t just sit around and hope that the phone will ring. Get proactive… use part of that time to implement some of the marketing & sales tactics we’ve looked at over the past four weeks. Find a few that you like and start to lay the groundwork for the growth of your firm.

Good luck.

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