Business Tips: 20 Rainy Day Tips to Get More Clients, Increase Sales and Make More Money

Business Tip: 20 Rainy Day Tips to Get More Clients, Increase Sales and Make More Money

Business development efforts that will get new clients and increase sales

I hate it when January rolls around. I’m fat and broke, with nothing to look forward to but taxes. Don’t make yourself crazier waiting for the phone to ring. Focus on building the infrastructure that will position you to work more effectively and strategically when the phone starts to ring again.

1. Business card processing–take the cards you collect at networking events and enter them into your client database. Go to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to invite these people to be friends. Make this a routine–do this after every event you attend or whenever you meet someone who might be a good client–or know someone who would be a good client.

2. Your photo just became important. Get a few good pictures of yourself. Include your image on your website, blog and social media profiles and online article publishing sites. This is not just about your face, it’s about a relationship. People are infinitely more liable to contact you if they can see you. If all you have is a few crappy images from your cell phone, rethink it. It’s worth paying someone to do this right.

3. Learn to use social media.Stop whining and learn to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter–these are your friends. Open these apps every morning and use them to send messages to your colleagues/clients rather than from your regular email platform. Stats show that there is a dramatically higher probability that your audience will open an email that comes from FB, LinkedIn and Twitter. The best way to understand social media? Open it and use it.

4. Learn to use social media: Find a teenager. These kids love to show off, but this resource will take you only so far. While they tend to know everything about Facebook profiles, they do not know about FB pages that are business-specific. They also may/not be Twitter junkies and will most assuredly not know about LinkedIn.

5. Facebook: the company version. Most people these days, unless they’re just starting to emerge from Sleepy Hollow, have a profile on Facebook where they can share and receive information, images, etc. What they may not know is that you can–and should–create a FB page for their company. This is where people can become fans. What’s more important is that anyone can access a FB page–they do not need to first create a profile. This opens up a whole new universe of potential clients.

6. Yep. Build a profile–this should be a company profile–not a personal one. Ask your happy clients to log in and recommend you.

7. Ask for referrals. Send an email or handwritten note to current clients and colleagues asking them to recommend you to those in their circle of influence. Also ask for a testimonial on yelp. Note: Handwritten notes never go out of style.

8. Make cold calls. Make sure you’re targeting your audience. You don’t want to waste your time on potential clients who do not map to your demographic. The best time to reach a decision-maker is early, late or lunch time. Be prepared: write and practice a script. Track calls into your new free database and identify time to follow up.

9. Be on the lookout for free or cheap networking events. I love the Chamber of Commerce mixers and attend all of these in the SF East Bay. Let people get to know and trust you and these will be a source of referrals. You also will find that you are meeting interesting new people and making friends–one of the tangible benefits of networking. An added bonus–sometimes the food is seriously good.

10. Direct mail. Tried and true, if a little boring. Use your current mailing list, augment with contacts from Google searches and online yellow pages. Ask friends and colleagues for names of people who might fit your demographic. Mail a card or letter. Follow up with phone calls–if you’re not going to do this, forget about the mailing. Remember that most conversions happen after eight contacts.

11. Think freeware. You wouldn’t believe all the cool free (or nearly free) stuff out there. I needed a database and was unwilling to shell out $350. I bought salesforce.com’s junior version for $50. Look at Zoho, which has a full suite of products, Doodle is scheduling software that allows you to sync calendars. Google apps do nearly everything– watch for buzz, their newest innovation that will compete in the same space as Twitter and Facebook.

12. Look for free workshops. The SBA is an example of your tax dollars happily at work. Most of their seminars are free and span a range of topics that are designed for entrepreneurs. Learn more about social media, using MSOffice products, etc. They also have a wonderful program called SCORE, which recruits retired executives to help newbies with things like business plans. Do some research on meetup.com groups. They’re grassroots forums, generally free and can be the source of some excellent information sharing and networking. Filter by subject and geography. If you don’t like what you’re finding, think about starting your own group.

13. Create a newsletter. It provides a forum to share expertise, develop a communication channel and build a community. Web-based apps like Constant Contact make it easy to manage (CC has fabulous customer support.) Do this monthly–any more is spamming. Share marketing tips, of course, but there is also room to share observations and commentary. Don’t be afraid of your opinions–the people who don’t like you won’t like you anyway, and those who do will love it–we call this relationship-building.

14. One word: write. The more content, the greater likelihood that you will show up on search engines, which increases likelihood of conversion, which means new client. Develop a little archive of factoids to publish to social media. When you’re busy, you will love being able to just pull this up and swap out your message. Develop articles and post to online e-magazine website–e-zine, Articlesbase, isnare. Create a profile and upload an image. These sites contribute to the content is king concept. The more content, the greater chance that you will show up on a search.

15. Become a better writer. Pick up a Dummy book and start working on your writing skills. If you slept through all of your grammar classes, you may be surprised to know that there are rules about grammar and punctuation. People will judge you based on your ability to express yourself, so don’t sabotage yourself. If this is just too painful, hire someone to write for you or coach you. (I do both) It well may be that this is simply not a good use of your time and would be better spent on other business development activities.

16. Give yourself a break and repurpose content. The same content that you use on your website can update your blog. Extract portions of it for social media factoids; tweak it a little and you have an article that you can publish to online magazines.

17. Read Webify Your Business, by Patrick Schwerdtfeger. This book is simply fabulous. Short, crisp chapters with a checklist at the end. Work through this and you will understand electronic delivery channels, including SEO, website strategy and, of course, social media.

18. Update your website to make it more accessible to search engines. Avoid bulleted lists. In general, I prefer lists over paragraphs as a way to make your content more visually accessible, but it’s hard to argue with the stats. Focus on keeping the paragraphs short; try highlighting the first sentence or other key words so that your audience can scan the paragraph and understand key concepts. Search engines also do not recognize graphics and video, including flash. For those who are in love with assorted moving parts, rethink it and save these tools for designers and artists. You do not want to drive away someone who only wants your contact information and gives up waiting for the page to load. Big missed opportunity.

19. Keyword strategies. They make this way harder than it really is. Figure out what words describe your business. Google these words and look at the number of listings in the results. Marketing gets millions, so there is no way I’m going to show up high in the search results. Start refining that search. Try business development, attorney, Berkeley (I do business development for attorneys and live in Berkeley). This search yields a significantly smaller universe. Take these words and weave them into the narrative on your website.

20. Branding: it’s not just about your logo, but it’s a good place to start. A logo makes you recognizable and provides polish. Graphic designers charge a lot for branding and logo development. A great discovery–graphic arts students. They are trying to build a portfolio and are happy to design a logo at no/low fee. My experience with these kids has been great–they’re creative and responsive.

It’s a courtship. None of these things by itself is going to get new clients, but put them all together, make them part of your ongoing marketing strategy and you will drive new business.



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