Trying new things

light_bulbIf there is one thing I know for sure, using old marketing tactics in this “new economy” isn’t going to work.  That’s why I am taking my own advice and trying some new new strategies with my own businesses.  Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”   Amen to that!  But sometimes, people get all caught up in what I mean by “new things”. Trying new things doesn’t have to mean implementing complicated new technology, or launching really intricate online campaigns.  It just means trying something that you haven’t tried before.

I have been doing traditional types of marketing since I started my company five years ago.  My business is based mostly on referrals, so one-on-one networking is a big part of my marketing plan.  Now you may wonder why I consider networking a marketing tactic.  It’s because of the way I define marketing…getting my message to my audience so I can convince them to buy my services.  When I network, I connect with people who are potential clients (of course).  I also try and communicate my message by showing them what I can do for them – rather than telling them what I can do for them.  What I mean is, if a person I’m talking to at an event is having a particularly difficult time with an email campaign, for example, I might offer to review their copy and give them some suggestions.  I honestly want to help them be more successful and it gives me the opportunity to show them what I do.

The other major part of my marketing plan are my ongoing communications.  This takes two primary forms.  My blog (which is what you’re currently reading…so that’s working :-)  and my newsletter “Impact Marketing News” which you can subscribe to by filling out the form on the right.  I have been regularly issuing a newsletter since 2007.  I have tons of subscribers.  I routinely get email responses from each newsletter from people I haven’t heard from in a while wanting to connect for one reason or another.  The newsletter keeps my name in my prospective client’s inboxes.  It gives me a venue to share new information , articles, interviews, books, etc.

I can hear you thinking…”But you said this was about trying new things??”  You’re right.  I did say that, and I have experimented with some new tactics lately.

In Sept I attended a very high end conference called “Demo”.  This is the conference where start-ups get 6 minutes to pitch their businesses to venture capital-types.  It is a great launch platform and very well attended and covered by the high-tech media.  I haven’t attended the event before, but have always heard about it since one of my target groups is high-tech start-ups.  I figured it I want to be where my customers are, then I should go to this event.  The visibility was fantastic.  I met 20+ CEOs of these start-ups; had coffee with several of them afterward and scheduled follow-up calls with a few more.  I didn’t expect to sign a deal during the conference; far from it.

The objective of this exercise was to to meet new prospects and expand my existing network.  From that perspective it worked really well.  Do I expect it to turn into active projects over the next 6 months….you betcha.  You know why?  Because I will continue to network with these folks and send them my newsletter, connect with the on FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc.  By mixing my new stuff with my tried and true stuff I’ll develop relationships that will translate into new business.

I’ve invested in another event as well – Confab2010.  Confab is an event hosted by the Institute of Management Consultants. It is basically a conference for consultants by consultants.  Since consultants are another group of my prospective customers, this seemed like an interesting venue.  This time rather than attending the event, I actually sponsored a booth.  I will be showcasing my marketing development program called THINK.PLAN.ACT.  It is designed specifically for consultants to help them build their brands and their businesses.  Again, I’m trying to get in front of a new group of prospects using tactics I’ve never tried before.  I know the program works as I’ve had success with it.  So I’m trying a new tactic to get the message out to a new groups of prospects.  Then I will follow-up using (you guessed it) my blog, newsletter, social media, etc.

Some of this might seem basic – but that’s really my point.  Trying new things doesn’t have to be complicated or costly.  Just think of a few things you’ve been meaning to do and start doing them.  So far, I’ve been really pleased with the new additions to my marketing plan.  I’m sure you will be to.

Call People

From 10 Ways to Build Your Business (without spending a penny)

1.  Call people

Just pick up the phone and call.
Just pick up the phone and call.

Some people may say “Laura…this is pretty basic”.  What about the miracle marketing tactics….huh?  Well, I hate to break it to you but there is no miracle.  To be honest, connecting with your existing customers, your existing client base is by far the single best way to build your business.  While this may sound simple, I’ll bet you a dollar that it has been more than a month since you’re talked to most of your previous clients or customers.  I’m talking about customers who you are not currently engaged with. If I’m wrong…send me an email and I’ll mail you a dollar.

Here’s the thing, you are not contacting these folks only to get repeat business from them.  Far from it!  You’re going to contact them for three reasons.  First, you’re doing market research – you want to learn more about your target customers.  What better way than to ask someone who has previously done business with you?  See how things are going since you last worked together.  How did the project turn out once it was implemented? What new things do they see on the horizon?  Ask questions and listen to what they tell you.

Second, ask for introductions to other people in the company, other companies, colleagues, etc. Again, you’re not looking to sell them anything – but you’re looking to expand your network and connect with new people who might have projects, of course, but they might also know of other people who have projects, or need your type of products or services. Be specific about the type of introductions you’re looking for.  Tell them the types of companies you’re interested in, the type of people you usually talk with, give them a place to start and most people are happy to introduce someone they trust and respect to someone else they trust and respect.

Finally, see if they need any help.  Again, I don’t mean you should try and sell them something. But ask if they need anything, have a question they can’t seem to answer, a problem that keeps cropping up.  Offer to help, do some research, send them some relevant articles (yours or someone else).  You need to do this on a regular basis.  Contact customers at least once a quarter if not once a month.  Email is fine but a well placed phone call is best, even if you have to leave a voice mail.  Script the voicemail out and make sure that you are specific in the reason you are calling and that you’ll call them back.

Then keep on calling…..