Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do you Really Need New Clients?

from my Sales Tip archives, April 2008:

Last week, we had an impromptu sales meeting on how to make the best use of our time considering changes in our local economy, changes in the marketplace, etc.

If you have not had a meeting of the minds in your organization recently, take 15 minutes, like we did, and do it.

The Answer to the question, Should we go wide and search for new clients, or get focused on new opportunities with existing clients, depends on your current practices. Small fuel wrote about this last week:

SmallFuel Marketing Blog

Link to SmallFuel Marketing Blog

The Small Business Guide to Marketing More in Less Time

Posted: 17 Apr 2008 02:15 PM CDT

free time working on the beach
Marketing is an art that every small business needs to master—the art of painting a compelling picture that transforms prospects into customers. But like all great art, marketing takes time; and as you already know, time is at a premium for anyone involved in a small business.

Failing to make the time to market effectively could be the difference between a thriving business and a devastating year-end tax loss, so it is critical that you learn to manage your marketing time and effort to draw the greatest results from that important non-renewable resource—your schedule.

Let’s take a quick look at how you can give your marketing a boost without piling on the overtime.

The Core Concept Of “Less Time” Marketing: Refining Your Strategies

The simplest way to get more marketing results packed into less time is by systematically refining and improving your strategies so that they get you results faster. This isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t common practice either. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mad rush of doing business that we often don’t step back and ask ourselves how we can make what we’re doing more effective—but if we don’t, we sin our wheels a lot more than we have to.

Here are a few simple ways you can start refining your marketing so that you find customers faster, and cut the time you have to spend on marketing to them in the first place.

Strategy #1 – Focus More On Reaching Your Perfect Customers

Every business owner faces the temptation of wanting to reach every possible prospect—but that’s not a recipe for success. Spreading your marketing message too thin only guarantees that fewer sales will be made. Instead, focus on your perfect customers. The ones that recognize their need for you most easily, that take less courting, that buy more often; in other words, go where the fish are hungriest.

How do you determine who your perfect customer is? Look back over your last year’s sales and find them. Who were the ones that resonated with your marketing message the most and became your happiest customers? Take the hint, and pour your focus into those who reward your marketing efforts with the highest returns. Conversely, identify the customers with the longest sales cycle and evaluate whether they are worth the investment. They may buy three times as much as a typical customer, but if they take five times the effort you must reconsider the value of pursuing them.

The Takeaway: Boosting productivity in converting prospects = Boosting profits.

Strategy #2 – Leverage Existing Customers To Find New Ones

Once you decide to focus on the customers who come to you most easily and appreciate what you have to offer, it comes time to reflect on another marketing lesson: Word of mouth advertising is the most powerful type of marketing there is. Because people react most readily to the experiences of those they trust, no other marketing strategy even comes close. To market more in less time, you need to leverage this principle to the fullest, and give your customers every opportunity to share their stories and spread the word about your company.

There are so many ways to do this effectively. You could offer a discount or bonus to customers who give you success stories or case studies about your offerings. You could offer referral commissions to customers who send business your way. Or, you could take the simpler route and send your customers coupons with an attractive offer that they can give to others to increase goodwill for themselves—and sales for you. Whatever strategies you choose, focus on creating a compelling situation that motivates your customers to bring others into the fold (and frees up time for you to do other effective marketing tasks).

The Takeaway: Boosting customer-driven marketing = Boosting your free time.

Strategy #3 – Focus On Keeping Your Existing Customers Engaged

As you already know, it takes a certain amount of time and effort to warm up prospects and get them in the mood to pay attention to what you have to say, let alone buy from you. To cut this warm up time to zero and make your marketing job easier for subsequent promotions, don’t let your leads go cold in the first place. Condition them to hearing from you on a regular basis and you won’t have to spend time figuring out excuses to send out emails or make phone calls.

The key here is to condition them to receiving ongoing information that has real value to them and to give them plenty of opportunities to turn your communication into conversation. Blogs are a fantastic way to do this, as are carefully chosen article topics that you can send to a newsletter audience. When you allow your customers to speak to you and to each other about relevant information (that you, as their authoritative source, provide), you’ll spend a lot less time having to sell them when the time comes to do business with you.

The Takeaway: Boosting communication with prospects = Boosting conversion.

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