There is always another side to new business that agencies often overlook – little things that, when added up, can help (or hurt) your firm in big ways. Wrapped up in our own little world of clients, timelines, staffing, and more, it’s the little things we so often forget.
8 Little New Business Reminders
- The Importance of Image: You may not recognize this, but your agency is judged all the time. Remember the saying “first impressions count?” Look at your space, how your facilities look, each of the offices, the common areas, the kitchen. Is there clutter, junk, old files, out-of-date work, awards from 1998? This sends potentially negative signals to your staff, your visitors, and media reps. Every time someone new walks in they judge your firm. Prospects are everywhere, so everything you do affects your image. Make sure your firm projects the type of image you want and need to win new business. I just spent a week helping a firm prepare for an important tour. All the little changes, the cleaning, the clearing of sight-lines, everything the whole staff complained about, the prospect noticed. Small things win.
- Get Out of Your Bubble: We sometimes forget there is an entire world outside of our personal spheres, let alone our client’s demands. Get out, meet some new people, and gain a new perspective! There are a ton of places where you can meet people, whether they are in your area of focus or potential clients. Teach a seminar or workshop at your local library or bookstore. Try joining your chamber of commerce, service organizations, or a trade association. Attend industry specific trade shows and learn something new. Take people out to lunch. Connections lead to more connections, and that leads to new business.
- Nudging: Once you’ve established a contact, it is just as important to maintain it. It is always imperative to check in with people now and again (by no means stalk the person!). By doing so, you’re ultimately informed of the person’s situation and you keep yourself in the forefront of their mind. Send emails, phone calls, and newsletters out to everyone. Also, respond to people in a timely fashion. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, don’t be interrupted by an incoming call. By the same token, do not type an email while talking on the phone. The biggest thing is to be respectful of the other person.
- Social Is, Is What Social Does: If your firm has any of the social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) you must dedicate yourself (or someone) to creating content regularly. Nothing looks worse than a Twitter profile with one tweet saying “test” that was posted six months ago. Or your last news item was a year ago. You have no idea how many marketing firm web sites I look at, or how often I discover this. You also need to dedicate time to monitoring social media sites to look for useful content that you can re-purpose (for example, “re-tweeting” someone else’s post that is relevant to your audience).
- Make it Personal: Sometimes the best way to stand out is to switch up and move in the opposite direction – handwrite a personal note. When you really want to stand out, add the personal touch. Build the relationship. What you’re saying is “your relationship matters, and I’m proving it by taking the time to write this note.” In business relationships, time taken is worth everything.
- Always Respond: This is something that Linda Kaplan Thaler (PublicisKaplanThaler) impressed on me. She always responds! If you want to come across professionally (and even classy), always respond to any request promptly. It’s good business etiquette, and besides, it’s something that your competitor may not even be doing!
- Spell-check and Grammar Check: There is a reason software developers included a spell-check function in our computer applications. Whether it is an email or a document, it is imperative that you use standard business language. Do not use shorthand or texting acronyms (“chatspeak”) in business correspondence, and for heaven’s sake, spell your words correctly. The pinnacle of rudeness is not caring enough to take the time to make your communications clear and correct.
- Train Your Staff: It always amazes me to discover just how little firms invest in training staff to have the necessary skills! Send your staff to conferences, hire a consultant to give a talk, open everyone up to new ideas, new thinking, or perhaps just another way of looking at the world. Look over our training and ask yourself, what client could we have won, or saved, if we had spent that little bit of money on our staff?
I was looking for a number 9 and 10, but thought I would ask you all instead. What small thing have you seen in business that could cost someone the win? Let me know!Photo by ~CelavaCesma-krug