#3: Improve Your Marketing
“Down cycles are critical times to improve marketing. Not the big marketing investments, but the touch points like your voice on the phone and replacing your throwaway business card with one that will be kept for years. There’s more bang from little things. Improving touch points will do more to improve brand and overall marketing success now than higher investment marketing strategies.”
Michael Mango, Business Coach, Dallas, TX
First, look at your touch points with clients and prospects:
- Emails & email signatures
- Brochures & flyers
- Letters & letterhead
- Business cards
- Phone calls, voice mail greetings, automated phone attendant, on-hold music and commercials
- Invoices & statements
- Personal interactions
- Company signs
- People’s dress
- Office and other visits
All touch points should be consistent with your ‘brand’. Your brand is essentially what you want clients, prospects and the market believe about you. It consists of stated and implied benefits that you deliver. Touch points influence how people perceive your brand. You can never control what people perceive, only influence it.
Second, get out from behind your desk and visit clients. Michael Mango emphasizes that calling clients is important. Getting face to face with clients in this economic climate is important. You won’t be spending hours with a client. These are busy people too. Schedule 15, 30 or 45 minutes. Meet for breakfast, coffee, lunch, or just drop by their office. Schedule a time to call and talk more.
Also visit past clients and re-launch your relationships. Apologize to them for not staying in touch. By the way, sending them a newsletter a few times a year, while important, is NOT staying in touch.
Nurturing current and past clients means you listen more than talk. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Treat the conversation like it is a research call and they have millions of dollars to share if you only learn the right things. Focus on connecting, that is, learning about their business (again). What is keeping them awake at night? What are they working on? By doing this, you not only nurture the client relationship, you will also likely learn about opportunities you can nurture in new business too.
Keep in mind you’re not calling or meeting with a client to add to work-in-hand. It is not a sales call. You are there to nurture the relationship, to show you care about their success, and in the case of past customers, rebuild credibility and trust. Of course, if there is a real opportunity for immediate business, go for it!
Finally, improve one of your most critical marketing procedures: Follow Up. Consistency rocks! Not following up on a client request, calling to stay in touch, missing a callback—any neglect of clients and prospects—is how you lose a client and never turn prospects into clients.
Build follow-up into your schedule. Nothing short of fire or an emergency should get in your way of a follow-up. Do it whether you feel like it or not. No excuses. For many firms, this can be the difference between just surviving the economic downturn and thriving in it.
Keep in mind this important fact about marketing: Gaining a client is not the end of marketing. Everything you do for a client is marketing. All those touch points, all the work you do for them, it’s all part of marketing.