6 Things to Re-Generate Our Business Now
It seems lately we are hearing some promising, albeit limiting news about our economic situation. Whether that's true or not we still have to move ahead. This is a wonderful opportunity to do things differently. Take a real look at your business model. Are you doing things the same as you had always done them? Are you selling the same way, prospecting the same way, proposing business the same way?
Something's got to give. The opportunity we have to take advantage of this 'new normal' is exciting. Don't let your fear of the future hinder what you could be doing now to really make some positive changes in your business. I have laid out six things I think will help you get focused and be creative.
1) Look inside first. Focus on what you have. Look at your customer base. Today is the perfect opportunity to find additional value you can bring to the relationship. By additional value, I don't mean discounting or new products and services. What I do mean is actually see what you can do for them outside of the client/provider relationship. For example, if a customer needs a service outside the realm of your expertise, offer a recommendation. If you learn that a partner on a construction project is looking for a bookkeeper, ask around to see if you know someone. If there is a particular person in the community you think your customer should know, set up a lunch for the three of you. Think outside of the normal business interactions. Reach out and see what you can do besides your own services.
2) Analyze what you have. Organize your customers, preferably by the type and volume of work they represent. Look at what each needs, what type of service is growing, which is down. How? Survey them. There are great services out there like 'Survey Monkey.' They can set up a very powerful, professional survey to help you do this analysis. Trends will come to the surface if you look for them. For instance, when times were good, customers did not hesitate to make a larger purchase if necessary. Once you have recognized key trends, address your products and services accordingly.
3) Get creative in your marketing. Look at new ways to market your business. If traditional advertising is out of your budget, most print advertisers have online options. This is a great way to keep in front of your demographic of customers and keep some consistency in your advertising and your message. I worry about people that decide to pull advertising all together. What message is that sending?
4) Build Strategic Alliances. Look at associated businesses to yours. For example, if you are a general contractor, consider forming relationships with members of related trades, homebuilders, wholesalers, etc.. This also could apply to business people with whom you have a relationship, such as your attorney, CPA, etc. Once you have identified key people, make a plan to get together to share what you are really looking for and see how you can help each other. Now more than ever getting referrals is huge. There is business out there if you just look harder to find it. That means asking others for introductions and providing some introductions yourself.
5) Networking. I am a big fan of networking through your local organizations, including your chamber of commerce, trade organizations, volunteering for a charity and of course a big trend is networking groups like BNI (Business Networking Int'l) which is the largest worldwide with chapters in every city.
You have two things available to you: time and money. Money being tight, time is what you have - so use it! Even as things look up, let's look at our pocketbooks more carefully so get out there and network!
6) Social Networking. It's not just for socializing anymore! Join Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or any others that are out there. By now most of you have at least put your toe in the water in these areas. A few tips. I don't care if it is a 'social' network; everything is public so act accordingly. Set a goal of what you will be putting out there and how often. People love information they can use. Don't use these sites for direct selling! That's a no- no.
As you can see there are so many opportunities to develop business today much more creatively then in the past. The more creative, often the less expensive!
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the best selling author of "To Sell is Not to Sell". Greta does corporate training for fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs. For more sales tips go to: http://www.schulzbusiness.com
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