There isn’t a business owner or manager who is ever 100% satisfied with where the “growth” of their company is today! We all want it to improve – more revenue… better mix of clients… new services to sell… more repeat business… and so on.
And it’s at this time on the calendar – when one year winds down (for better or worse) and we all look ahead to the next year (and the hope that it holds) – when we naturally think about making improvements. But tackling so many changes can be daunting… so much so that, often, nothing changes and we stay on the path we’re on right now.
To avoid that kind of paralysis, don’t think about making large-scale changes… commit to just one thing – then go do it. To help you get started, here are 15 where-to-start ideas to help get your creative juices flowing. Good luck…
- Refresh your website. I’m not talking about a total overhaul of your site’s design and copy, but go through it and make sure it’s up to date. For example, are all of your service lines listed, is the site optimized for mobile, are there easy links to your social media sites and so on? For a full list of ideas, see our recent blog post: http://www.harpethmarketing.com/competitive-advantage/10-website-tips/
- Commit to content marketing. You’re in the knowledge business. You get hired because of your expertise and experience. Because of that, one of your top marketing strategies should be to share a little of that knowledge – through blog posts, articles, eBooks, etc. Put a plan in place for 2015 to publish and promote helpful content on a regular basis.
- Start engaging on social media. Most firms have a corporate LinkedIn profile and most of their employees have personal profiles. Many people also post things [somewhat] regularly to their profiles. But the real power of social media is in the engagement – in starting or participating in online conversations as a way of sharing knowledge and insights (not selling). Find a LinkedIn group or two where you’re likely to find your clients and prospects… and participate regularly.
- Try advertising. When was the last time you ran an ad campaign (yes, “ad campaign”… not just “ad” singular!)? If it’s been a while, consider ‘testing’ one in 2015 as a way to build awareness across your target markets. Think about print ads in key industry magazines, pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and LinkedIn or banner ads on industry websites or inside of an association’s e-newsletter. Then measure the results.
- Pick up the phone. Not every interaction with a sales prospect can be electronic… sometimes, you just gotta talk with them. So, based on their interest level, pick up the phone and call them, establish the start of a relationship, qualify them. And even if they’re not ready to buy just yet, at least they’ll know who you are when it is
- Target strategic prospects. Not every sales prospect should be treated equally. There are a few out there that could make a significant difference to your business – either because of their size, reputation or status. And because some firms are different, so should be your approach to acquiring them as clients. Spend some time [now] putting together a marketing & sales plan – custom-built for each of those targeted clients – then execute like crazy in 2015.
- Survey your clients. I’m not talking about post-project customer satisfaction surveys, but rather the big-picture questions, like, “How are we doing?”, “Where can we improve?”, “Why did you hire us the first time?”, “How are we different from other firms?” and so on. Really try to get a handle on why they are your clients.
- Survey your ex-clients. Not all of you clients stay with you forever. Ask a few of your ex-clients why they left, who they’re working with now and why. You often can learn more when you fail than when you succeed.
- Try a city blitz. The next time you go out of town to visit a client, plan to stay a couple of extra days, visiting several other sales prospects in the same town. Your biggest travel expenses are covered… it’ll just cost a couple extra days in a hotel and meals. But it’s a chance to sit down face-to-face with prospects… and nothing you do will be better for your chance of sales success than that.
- Attend a different conference. We all seem to get in the habit of going to the same conferences every year… and that’s fine. But in 2015, add a new one to the mix – one you’ve never been to before. The educational program will probably have a different slant to it… and it’s a great way to meet new vendors and network with a completely different group. Not sure where to go? Easy… ask your clients where they will be going next year.
- Speak publicly. Speaking of conferences, do you have a story to tell that conference attendees might benefit from? Reach out to the event producers and see if they are still looking for speakers for their 2015 events. Speaking builds awareness and positions you as an industry thought-leader.
- Present a webinar. Webinars are another way of building awareness and positioning yourself as a thought leader. The downside is that you have to take care of the production and the promotion yourself and it’s not “in person”… the upside is that you capture the contact information of everyone that registers for it (adding new names to your database) and there are no travel costs.
- Invest in your salespeople. Recommit to sales excellence in 2015 and invest in things that can make that happen; e.g. sales training programs, sending your reps to conferences (for industry education and networking), acquiring new technology to improve their productivity, etc.
- Launch a new service line. Want to get your clients and your staff excited? Launch a new service in 2015. Because it’s new, it’ll give your staff (and especially your sales team) something different to talk to clients and prospects about. And if it’s really interesting, news of it will get covered in industry magazines and on websites.
- Create a marketing & sales plan. If your business development has been primarily re-active and un-planned in the past, commit to creating a plan in 2015. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, but take the time to think through what you need to do (strategy first… then tactics), create a calendar and budget for making it happen, execute… then measure the results. For a little more detail on creating a plan, read this recent article we published: http://www.harpethmarketing.com/marketing-resources/marketing-plan-2015/.
Bottom line: Change is hard. We all get comfortable with how we’re doing things – and we’re already plenty busy – but to improve your current standing, you have to do something new. As you look ahead to 2015, now’s the time to commit. Who knows? Doing the first thing might just lead to a second… and a third…
Remember… “If you keep doin’ what you’re doin’… you’ll keep gettin’ what you’re gettin’.”