New business generation: what’s working right now
Over the past few weeks I’ve been on a quest to find new work. Some of this new business generation effort has involved rekindling long-standing relationships, which has been a rather wonderful exercise. After all, it’s always good to hear from old friends, or find out how (and why!) their businesses are thriving. But it’s necessary for there to be more to it than that.
It’s got me thinking about what makes a persuasive approach to a new client (who’s probably never heard of you) or old (where they ‘didn’t realise you did that’). Is it possible to combine a single method or technique to both? Here are three examples of the approaches I have been trying and how they are working out . . .
New business generation technique 1:
The universal update on your latest work or services is an approach so well-used these days that it seems almost superfluous to mention it. But for me this is less about the method than the actual application of it.
Humourless, dry newsletters are essentially a pointless exercise in my book. Even when dealing with a serious topic, an engaging design can transform this from the pedestrian to the eye-catching. And, yes, I am making a point here. Having a custom design / programmed newsletter that your business can manage in-house is incredibly persuasive. It will increase your turnover.
Remember – the content itself can be simple. Where things become interesting is when your projects or update are presented in an engaging or witty way. In these cases, a newsletter can serve as a reminder, a bookmark, a reinforcement of what your current clients already know.
They can also be a neat nudge in the ribs for those who might think they don’t need your services, when they most certainly do.
New business generation technique 2:
Keeping relationships with current clients strong is Business School 101, but finding the best way of doing this without causing a distraction or irritation is a careful balance. Handle these spur-of-the moment calls or emails carefully. Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to pick a poor moment without even realising it.
Still, persistence pays dividends, and the occasional mis-timed email can be quickly forgotten with a lunch-on-me type approach to say thank you for their business. In fact, gratitude to ongoing clients is something I always try and apply. Particularly when sending an invoice. Those ‘magic words’, saying our Ps and Qs, go a very long way.
The other important aspect to this, particularly in my line of work, is that my clients pay me for an opinion about their marketing materials – branding, stationery, print reports and website. If some work we’ve completed a few years back is looking in need of a refresh, I feel increasingly beholden to offer ways to bring it up to date.
So, with this in mind, I’ve been writing proposals explaining how what we’ve done before can be improved or have a new feature added so it’s more streamlined and makes more money. This has really had a serious impact.
New business generation technique 3:
‘The friendly neighbour’
Having long had clients in the interior design trade, moving to Chelsea eighteen months ago was an easy decision – particularly with so many businesses working together to provide services such as wooden flooring, furniture design and cabinetry, architects, gardeners and landscape designers . . . the list goes on.
It makes sense to reach out to businesses in our immediate vicinity rather than the other side of London, so my central focus has been keeping local and building a client base on our doorstep. This way they know where we are and can drop in – no bad thing for editing big documents or reviewing the progress of a developing website.
There’s another important thing here: the prevailing trend among supermarket consumers for some time now is that ‘buying local’ is preferable. So, taking the logic one step further, we believe that this approach is also likely to succeed with a sophisticated set of discerning local businesses.
It stands to reason that if we want to stay local, they might well too.