If you’ve ever struggled to win new clients, projects, or engagements or if you’re getting queasy on the “revenue roller-coaster”—marketing like crazy, filling the pipeline, then getting wrapped up in doing the work only to find the pipeline empty, then this article is for you.
Meet Jeff… Jeff is an architect, and he owns a pretty typical service firm. He’s the principal, leads a small team, and is in charge of all the selling and marketing (when it gets done). Sound familiar?
Jeff’s the kind of guy you want to know. He’s involved in the community, he’s plugged into his kids’ activities, always friendly and helpful.
And, he’s built a successful small firm. He and his team serve one big client (who consistently pays the bills), and they have a bunch of smaller clients that bring him projects now and then.
Sounds great… so why is Jeff lying awake? It’s 2:36 am!
Like too many service businesses, Jeff has most of his eggs in one basket. He landed his biggest client, then got busy serving that client. It’s worked so far, but he knows there’s a risk…and it could be just around the corner.
The problem is, Jeff doesn’t have a lot of spare time for business development. And, even when he does have time, he doesn’t know what to do.
Should he go to the next Chamber event, join a networking group, send direct mail, post on social media, update his website…?
How to eliminate the “one big client” risk, without spending all of your time on business development
The secret to getting more new clients is, in the end, a simple 3-step process. Yet, few businesses ever execute these steps, because they’ve traditionally taken so much work. I’ll show you how to get all the benefit and remove 90% of the time-consuming work. This is 80/20 marketing.
Unlocking the Hidden Asset in Your Business
Every business, no matter the size, has an asset that, in my experience, is ignored, forgotten, or at best underutilized. The asset: your list of current and past clients, referral partners, and contacts.
You’ve got a list. But I’ll bet you’re not doing anything with it. Most don’t want to “bug people.” So, they just stay stuck, as the best kept secret in their market.
Most of the advice on staying in touch with your clients, prospects, and key relationships centers around either sending a newsletter, or finding useful information and forwarding it to individual contacts with a note.
Both work great, but they take a ton of time. I’ve seen more abandoned newsletters after the second issue, and more people who still intend to send out an article to a client to know that it’s just too much work for most business owners.
Most often the block is actually writer’s block…you don’t know what to say.
A few years ago, I discovered a simple solution…
Just have conversations with key experts and influencers in your market. People your prospects and clients would benefit from listening to. Record those conversations, using a conference bridge line or video conferencing service such as GoToMeeting, Zoom or Skype, and send them out to your list.
You’ll never suffer from writer’s block, and you’ll have a simple way to give value first to key relationships in your network. And your clients and prospects will hear your voice every month…you’ll always be top of mind.
Showing Up Isn’t Enough
Showing up in your prospect’s world every month is a great start, but we’ve see too many frustrated business owners who dutifully send a newsletter every month and still aren’t seeing new clients stream in.
There’s a missing piece. Newsletters and the audio interviews I described above are great for staying top of mind, but you need a way to motivate a prospect to take action now. Most businesses don’t do this in a systematic or consistent way.
The secret is in creating and delivering an educational presentation that you deliver regularly (meaning every 4-6 weeks—or more). The goal of the presentation is not just to educate your future clients, but also to motivate them to book an appointment with you.
If you passively wait and hope they’ll come, you’ll be waiting a long time.
But, when you regularly offer up the next logical step towards solving their problem—meeting with you so you can diagnose the problem and prescribe a cure—your cure—you’ll create a consistent flow of new meetings with potential clients.
Here’s are three examples of such educational presentations for different types of businesses, that you can model.
- Example 1 for a consulting business
- Example 2 for an accounting firm
- Example 3 for a software product
If that sounds like a lot of work—presenting every 4-6 weeks—don’t worry. Most of the businesses we guide through this process are able to completely automate the presentation using modern webinar tools.
The Third Leg of the Stool (and the one most get wrong)
Once you’ve got an easy way to stay top-of-mind every month, and you’ve got a way to convert new leads into appointments, you need a way to fill the pipeline.
This is where most businesses get it tragically wrong. There are two common mistakes:
Mistake #1: Focusing on filling the pipeline, before you actually build a pipeline. The result—lots of leads are forgotten, the investment to acquire them—time, energy, and money—wasted. If you have no way to reliably follow-up and convert leads, why bother generating them?
Mistake #2: Being too direct with your direct outreach. If you’ve ever accepted a LinkedIn or Facebook connection, only to be pounced on in the very next message from an over-eager sales person, then you know it’s annoying.
Yet, most businesses take this short-term view of direct outreach. They forget that the ultimate goal is to create a relationship with another human, that will support commerce.
Be valuable, and warm up your new leads before you try to get them on the phone (hint: the tools you create in the first two steps are perfect for this job).
Put all three pieces in place—an easy way to show up and be valuable on a regular basis, an educational presentation that converts leads into appointments, and direct outreach that warms up ideal prospects and funnels them into your new system, and that’s all you need to grow a thriving service business.