Two months ago, our biggest client submitted notice due to internal budget cuts. Unfortunately, this is not a new scenario for us.
When small businesses face financial struggles, the marketing budget is frequently on the chopping block, with social media ranking at the top. Social media is relationship marketing – a longer-term effort. Companies with financial constraints often pull the plug on social media in favor of more immediate revenue-generating options.
We knew it was time to get to work on securing new business and we had no time to waste. We embarked on a business development mega mission, devising over 30 tactics to try to recover the lost income. Some tactics were simple like creating a fresh brochure, getting more involved in our networking groups, and following up on past leads.
Others were more involved. One of our major projects included the creation of an entirely new offering. We listened to feedback from dozens of our prospects and clients to devise click-to-buy packages for those looking for social media management services.
We also tried a direct mail idea from my colleague in Canada. We researched over 100 businesses that were connected to our current clients in some capacity and ranked each by the highest need for our services. Then, we sent customized letters explaining our mutual connection, highlighted areas where we can help them with social media and included a lottery ticket (who doesn’t like to scratch?) to pique their interest. We followed up with a personalized email, a LinkedIn connection request, and a phone call. (See below!)
We spent countless hours brainstorming, researching, and talking with colleagues to make sure we were doing all the right things to help us generate new business.
So, how did we fair?
Not so well. In fact, zero new social media clients during this two-month push.
While I’m disappointed, I’m not surprised. At the end of the day, it’s not a tactic that will gain business; it’s the relationships.
I knew this. Heck, it’s what we tell our clients every single day. But, in a frantic to replace the income from our exiting client, I thought I could accelerate this process. This exercise proves, once again, what I knew all along. Relationships are central to the trust factor that precedes buying.
Did we gain anything from this experience?
Absolutely. I reconnected with people who are vital contacts in my business and personal life. I met them for lunch and learned what they’ve been doing the past few months.
I don’t believe in complacency. Trying new things is never wasted energy. This particular exercise helped me to think differently.
There’s also a lot to be said for consistency and value-add – something I try to do on my blog every week. We need to stay the course and remain patient, just as we advise our clients.
Don't fret, many of the folks that you reached out to will do so in the future. We did several snail mail campaigns 3-4 years ago. We get calls from organizations that need us now, but did not back then. We I ask them how they found out about us they let me know it was the marketing letter we sent years ago. I believe the key to successful marketing is "Relationships" for sure, but a close second is "Branding". Stay encouraged, clients will come.
Hey Mark -
You're right. It will come when it's time. "Branding" is an interesting, but accurate second. I've placed a lot of energy into value-driven, helpful content over the years - that's been my brand. It's paid me back in spades. I just need to stay the course.
Thanks for your words of encouragement!
What you said is exactly what I do in my job. While I wish people would just donate when I ask, the reality is that for most, discretionary income is something they have to plan to use. And that planning and future donations takes cultivation, time and dedication. All of which you have in spades.
I know that the seeds you have planted now wil sprout and take shape.
You are great at what you do and I know you know that!!
Thank you for the kind words, Jeanne. I'm humbled by the positive, encouraging feedback from my audience.
Wishing you well!
Don't feel bad - feeling bad about not getting any new clients from what you did would be like feeling bad you aren't getting flowers right after you planted the seeds. You've planted your flag in the brains of those 100 potential clients, and if/when they do need what you do in the future, it's highly likely they'll turn to you first! 🙂
By the way, sending each of them a scratch off ticket was such a fun idea, I love it.
You're right. Thank you for this reminder - and thank you for reading and responding. It's nice to 'meet' you, David.