One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they start is a business is that they expect customers to come flocking instantly. They believe in their product or service so much that they expect am influx of customers to come running as soon as their doors open. It's good to believe in what you are offering. It's insane not to have a clearly defined marketing plan. Now, a marketing plan is not just about having an attractive website and putting up a few Google adverts. No, no, it goes way beyond that. A good marketing plan should include:
• A social media strategy
• A website strategy
• Online and offline networking
• Trade shows
• A PR strategy
All of the above will help you to attract leads on a consistent basis. As a business, you should always be generating leads, and following these up on a regular basis. For service based business, it can take 3 - 6 months to close a deal, so you always need to have warm leads in the pipeline. A good contact management system is essential for this as you need to track and record who you have spoken to, how they got in touch, the nature of the conversation, the product or service that they are
interested in and their responses.
A great way to meet new business prospects is through events. Social networking is great, it's time effective but it's also very safe in the sense that you can hide behind your computer. Have you ever met someone and taken an instant shine to them because there was "something about them?" There is something about face to face interaction that you can't quite capture online. Infact there are some people that you meet that could sell you something that you don't need, but you have brought into them as a person. I was talking to a contact recently who told me about a presentation that they were doing to a room full of people. One of the people that took up her offer said:
"I think you are amazing. You are very sweet, and although I thought the content was great, I like you as a person."
The result of that encounter, and a few subsequent conversations with my contacts team was that the person brought a service for over £10,000 which is incredible.
I can tell you many more stories of similar encounters. People buy into people and offline networking is one of the most powerful tools that anyone can use. I personally attend networking events at least once a week and it works. Obviously, not every event will be for you, so it's important that you identify events where your target market will be. Other effective networking tips include:
Always be well presented. Rightly or wrongly, people are always making assumptions. Make sure they get the right first impression from you.
Carry business cards - this is a no brainer really.
When you are talking to people, don't try and sell yourself as that can seem desperate. Be more willing to listen. This will help you to formulate an idea about them, and what products and services they may be interested in. There is nothing better than being genuinely interested
in what someone is saying.
Have your elevator pitch etched in your memory. Your elevator pitch should be no longer than 30 seconds.
Enjoy yourself. Smiling is infectious, so smile and let your passion for what you do shine through.