Most small businesses struggle with balancing time. How much time you spend working vs. how much time you spend seeking the work. There is no magic formula, but you have to be aware of the fact that no matter how talented you are, if no one knows about it, you won’t have a business very long.
That means marketing what you have to sell to the people who want to buy it.
Putting up a website and just hoping people find you is simply not going to happen. My business is global and as each day passes and more and more people buy domain names and throw up websites, it becomes harder and harder to get the right eyes on you and what you offer. Even if you throw a lot of money into SEO, there are larger companies out there using the same key words who will nearly always rank higher in the searches.
So basic marketing skills become even more important.
- Networking is part of marketing.
- Virtual – get out and meet people who may have use of your service, or be able to refer you to someone who does. People like doing business with people they like! Join a group, attend conferences, or simply do things and get to know the people around you.
- Cyberspace – do the same kind of thing online. Join groups. Contribute something valuable (or funny) to the conversation. Let people get to know you and your sparkling personality.Cold calling – the very thought sends chills down the spines of some people, but if you do a little research on a company before deciding to call, you can start developing new relationships with little to no pain.
- Cultivation – you need to nurture the relationships you have or are developing. There are various ways to do this and you need to find what works best for you. Having a good easy to use CRM system is helpful. There are a lot out there with various prices and features. This is where having your own peer support group is helpful – for recommendations.
- Newsletters – I started to send out Quarterly newsletters again after a few years hiatus. Mail Chimp is working well for me at the moment, but others like Constant Contact. Here is a link to the latest newsletter. (Click here to sign up to get it!)
- Personal emails – include something personal in your personal emails! Do you know if your client is married? Kids? A favorite sport or team or pet?
- Post cards – it might be worth it to send out a batch of post cards. Kind of depends on your total “look.”
- Occasional calls – check in with favorite clients by phone once in a while.
- Referrals – this point is referring to people referring you to do a job. I want my clients to think of me if someone asks them for a voice for a project. But it can work the other way as well, I do get the occasional request to recommend male voices, or people who speak Spanish or French. You need to be very careful who you refer to whom. A mismatch could end up with a bad feeling – for you!
- Repeat Business – this is the best way of course to keep a business going. So how do you get clients to come back again and again?
- Provide a quality product
- At a fair price
- In a timely manner
- And be fun to work with
- Stay in touch (Refer back to Item 3 on this list “Cultivation”)
Some of this will cost some green and need to be built into your budget. We can’t do everything for free. That’s part of the reality of being a business. There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” However, many of us spend too much for too little in return, but that could be the subject of another post!
Spend a little time to find the right balance of work and finding work that works for you! If you have other ways to make and keep your connections, please add a comment!