None of us have enough time in the day to get everything done, but small business owners and entrepreneurs like you are particularly pressed. You wear so many hats; there is a seemingly infinite list of tasks to accomplish each day, from providing services to clients, managing product distribution and delivery, to keeping accounting in order.
You try to fit in some strategic marketing when you can, but you’re not sure which activities are essential to do each week or each month to build a steady stream of clients.
You make some calls, send out a mailing or put up a web site, but you still have that nagging feeling that if you knew which small business strategic marketing activities translated into the most new business, you could be more successful.
You want more clients or, if not more clients, higher paying clients. So, what are the most important business marketing tasks to do in order to attract more of the right type of prospects?
Build and Maintain Relationships with Prospects
Your number one marketing priority should be to build relationships with lots of qualified prospects. It sounds obvious, but remember that the reason to advertise, network or to have a web site is to generate leads, leads you can then convert to sales. Take a look at the number of years you’ve been in business and the size of your prospect list.
If your advertising, networking and web site are working, you should be able to generate new leads and a growing list of qualified prospects each month. A successful website, for example, can generate hundreds, if not thousands, of new leads monthly.
George recently signed up for my coaching services. He has been in business for over ten years, but his prospect list consists of less than 150 names. George should have contact information for thousands of prospects by now. Even without an active web based lead generation strategy, if George had added every prospect and client to his list over ten years his list should contain over a thousand interested people.
How many more sales could you close if twice as many — or ten times as many— people know how you could help them?
The first step is to get prospects’ attention with your marketing message and materials. Then you want prospects to take the next step; to contact you, buy from you right away, or add their name to your mailing list. Offering free, relevant information such as a report or f.ree workshop will prompt your prospects to give you their contact information and increase the results generated by your advertisements and mailings.
How big is your target market? What percentage of this group is on your mailing list?
Your goal is to help as many people in your target market learn what you do and to get them to give you their contact information. Once you have their permission to stay in touch, you can go to work building a relationship with them. Demonstrate what you do so they understand its value and you establish your credibility. When they know and trust you, they’ll be happy to tell you what they need and to buy your products and services.
So how can you incorporate lead generation and building relationships with prospects into your weekly schedule?
1. Each week reach out to get the attention of people who haven’t heard from you. Do this through your advertising, web site marketing, articles, mailings or cold calls (if you know how to use them). But don’t spend a dime on any of these unless you have a strategy in place for converting this attention into sales and qualified leads.
2. Set aside time each week or at least each month to stay in touch with your list of qualified prospects and past clients. As your list grows, use your time to focus on past clients first and use a mass mailing or email to stay in touch with other prospects. Share an idea your prospects can use and they’ll be reminded again and again how much you know and why they should buy your products and services.
3. Use your communication with prospects and clients to help them identify what they need and understand how your products and services can help them. You may think that doing this once should be enough, but most people are too busy to read every mailing they get or to remember the details until its pressing or important for them to act on. With regular correspondence you’ll increase the chances of putting your information in front of your prospects when they are ready to buy.
4. Set aside time each day to contact qualified prospects. If someone has sent you an email, left a phone message or otherwise expressed interest in your products, pick up the phone and call them. Quickly identify whether they have the authority and interest to contract with you and either continue the conversation or move on to your next lead.
Get attention; build your list of qualified leads; regularly help prospects with your ideas; and respond to your most qualified prospects promptly when they request services. Do these four things every week and every month and you’ll soon have many more prospects eager to learn how you can help them, eager to buy from you and more new clients than you ever thought possible.