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.