Starting a business is risky – and sometimes even a bit scary Your reputation, money and sometimes even livelihood are on the line so the sooner you can start to see some success the easier it gets.
You know you have to 'speculate to accumulate'.
You want to build a castle but, to start with you have to dig a hole; and the sooner you can start to fill it in the more your confidence will grow that you will end up with your castle! For many (if not most) SME businesses, this drives a short term, quick win, approach which can ease the pain with early sales starting to ‘fill the hole’ before it gets very deep, but it also risks missing a potential longer term benefit. Just because you don’t win short term business with a customer, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth sticking with them in the hope of success in the future. Despite what many SME owners may think, some clients take a long time to nurture – and can take a VERY long time. The key is having an approach to marketing that can sustain communication and awareness in the long term without making your hole too big! A recent experience really demonstrated the truth of this.
Always good to get a call
A couple of years ago I had a call from someone I hadn’t done business with for quite a while. He had been busy and business had been going well but his thoughts were turning to marketing, and he thought of BSA. He wanted to arrange to meet to look at options but as it was just before Christmas, he suggested we speak in the New Year to fix a date – all good! But you never know… Mid-January came and I duly picked up the phone but I couldn’t have been more surprised by how the call went. I’m sure you may have experienced this:
- Phone is answered by receptionist
- I asked to speak to my contact (who is in the same room)
- Rather than putting me on hold, receptionist introduced me and I heard my contact saying they don’t want to speak with me!
No problem, I may have just called at a bad time, but despite several attempts and left messages over the next couple of weeks, I hit a brick wall!
Just one of those things…
Resilience is one of the most valuable attributes for an SME owner. You just put the setbacks behind you and move forward. If I had simply taken the short term approach, that contact and my experience would be forgotten and I’d be looking for the next order – but I have a plan!
As well as focusing on short term opportunities – which in my experience are almost always a case of Right Place, Right Time, we also have a strategy of long term communication and development. Our Marketing Matters newsletter goes out regularly to all of our contacts.
A chance to tap people on the shoulder and say 'Hi. it's me!'
It doesn’t cost a great deal and is pretty easy to keep doing but the impact can be profound.
Regular Business Opportunities
Our e-newsletter is a real source of long-term new business; not just in terms of direct enquiries but also a platform that means when I meet people, they know me and we have common interest for discussion. I regularly hear:
It’s ages since I’ve seen you but I regularly read your newsletter, you have some great articles. I like what you say…
Back to the story…. I said it started a couple of years ago but it was last month that I was looking through some feedback from recent newsletters when I saw that my contact, who had turned me down, was still there, reading our newsletters! Rather than the historic opportunity being a lost cause it maybe just hadn’t been the right time! Most SME B2B service business isn’t about lots of new customers, it’s about building sustained clients you can work with for a long time. Business owners typically aren’t looking for 10 new customers a week; often they tell me that 6 or 7 solid new clients regularly each YEAR is what they are really after. My experience shows I still have a contact with solid links to BSA Marketing and there are still good opportunities for the future. It is this type of well-established contact that is most likely to deliver sustainable, long term business. It won’t happen with everyone, but building a platform of solid, long term contacts, although it takes time, is a valuable asset help make sure you don’t fall into a hole! Successful long-term marketing is about sticking at it rather than excitement but if you do, you will find you have a powerful communication resource that none of your more short-sighted competitors will be able to catch up with any time soon!