The new year is well and truly here. In fact it feels like we’re halfway through the year people around us are so busy. A good problem most people say, as the opportunities are converted from concept into billable work and marketing and business development needs diminish. But should they ever really diminish?
We’re busy here at Stretch too. Terrifically busy. It doesn’t stop us from knowing that we must maintain our relationships always, and reach out to the people around us regularly. Relationships are what make all of us in professional services successful. Never is there anything more important.Knowing this, I want you to think about all the things you should have done since Christmas in your business to service your relationships and set yourself up for 2014.
And when I talk about relationships, I don’t just mean the people you are working with right now. I mean:
- Existing and Former clients (sometimes your best referrers)
- Influencers of key networks
- Known contacts (or “friends” of your business)
February is nearly over so by now you, or your team of client facing staff should have taken the time to do all of the following simple marketing and business development tasks. Many of these are common sense… but it is amazing how quickly we forget to do them (or deprioritise them) when things feel busy.
1. Call or catch up personally with all your existing or recent clients (email doesn’t count). Yes… logical I know. But how many of you have rung EVERYONE who paid your business money in the last year? The new-year is the best and easiest time to connect with people. You can connect on the pleasant stories of Christmas holidays and school year commencements, before moving to discuss projects that lie in front of you (and them!) for the year. You can capture the insight into their pipeline that might be much harder to ask about mid year (depending on your confidence and connection). It is almost too late to do this now, but if you haven’t done it… don’t put it off any longer, get started.
2. Decide whom your priority clients are, and what markets you are focussed on in 2014. Are you going to chase everything that moves or are you going to select growing markets, building presence and relationships with ideal clients? Once you know who you are targeting this year you can go about building a fresh “story” for this market to grab people’s attention.
3. Work out whom you know (and need to know) in your priority markets and set action plans for maintaining known contacts and reaching out to new ones through existing networks.
4. Have you planned some marketing that specifically reaches into your priority networks? Whether you plan to host events, write informative papers and get them into your networks’ hands, run a campaign or blog regularly, make sure you set a rhythm and make someone accountable. 80% of marketing fails in lack of execution not lack of good intention.
5. And finally, have you shipped your first communication for the year? Don’t put it off. Easter, will be here before you know it. In fact it is probably worth pointing out that there is only 6 weeks until Easter school holidays start which disrupts people’s decision making nationwide. If you have important stories to tell, February is the time to start. But don’t just send out fluff for the sake of it. Make it awesome, valuable, insightful content that gives your network an edge for knowing the information you’ve shared. Then they’ll come back for more, and maybe even seek out your services.
I could go on, but frankly, if you do even a few of the above five, you’ll be much more front of mind in your market. Remember, proactive, organised people in services industries are the ones everyone wants to work with.
Let me know how you’re going… Rebecca