Consultancy agency EverySense, together with the IVCA (International Visual Communications Association) organised a seminar to talk about the essentials for getting new business. Although some things seem to be common sense it’s important to bare in mind what steps are necessary to make the 10% growth that most companies aim for year on year.
EverySense listed four key points:
1. Know how you add value
2. Know how your friends are
3. Know how to target
4. Know your assets.
This proposal is not an easy plan. It takes time and dedication. Angela Law and Peter Wrigglesworth, senior partners at EverySense, stress the importance of stopping and thinking about where your business is and how it can grow by using the knowledge you have already.
Throughout the seminar participants were asked to vote with interactive pads provided by Crystal Interactive, which revealed useful insights.
There were over 40 companies present, ranging from creative, production companies to technology providers. Of these, 43% said that they spend between 5-10% of their resources in business development. Wrigglesworth recommends that they should think about raising this to 15%, to ensure their business has steady growth.
In general, the 80-20 rule still applies for business; 80% of projects come from 20% of your clients. So how can one use this to the maximum to see real growth?
Rule 1: Know how you add value
From the voting, it was clear that most people agreed that business is strongly based on relationships and trust. So use your contacts, says Wrigglesworth. Ask your clients to recommend you. To make this easier for them, you need to know how you add value, what’s special about you and your company. This, in turn, will result in gaining new customers.
‘If you are a generalist,’ says Law, ‘you can’t get new business. It is very difficult for people to recommend you if they can’t describe you.’
To overcome this, EverySense recommends gathering evidence of what your company has done. Write case studies. Take photos. Make a DVD. Think of which of your projects has your name written all over it. Create your own referral and put it at your client’s disposal to be passed on to whoever might have need of your services or products.
Rule 2: Know how your friends are
Keeping in touch with clients is a must. If you are not in touch with someone within 90 days, people forget about you. Of course, this does not mean one has to cold call and bother people, but instead keep the relationship going by listening to what they are doing and showing real interest in their business. Offering knowledge and insight on what you specialise in, is a good way to build up trust and generate new business.
Some of the people present at the seminar explained that they are using current web tools, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to keep up with what’s happening with their clients and in their industries. If you know what the needs are, then your proposition can be much clearer.
The value of social networking cannot be underestimated in today’s market for keeping in touch with your business ‘friends’.
Law also recommends going back to people you have already contacted and who initially said ‘No’. ’You are more likely to get a “Yes” if you approach a company you have contact already,’ she says.
Rule 3: Know how to target
To have a better aim and reach your target, EverySense says that businesses need to apply the AIDA model. No, it’s not about singing opera; it’s about learning the hierarchy of causes and effects that your interaction with clients will go through.
AIDA is an acronym used in marketing that describes a common list of events that are very often experienced when a person is selling a product or service:
* A - Attention (Awareness): attract the attention of the customer;
* I - Interest: raise customer interest by focusing on and demonstrating advantages and benefits. Show what’s unique about your offer;
* D - Desire: convince customers that they want and desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs. This is a decisive point. Most people are naturally cautious and many times they stay with ‘the devil they know’. Trying out a new approach might be frightening, that’s why building up trust is so important; and
* A - Action: lead customers towards taking action and, or purchasing.
Nowadays some have added another letter to form AIDA(S):
* S - Satisfaction - satisfy the customer so they become a repeat customer and give referrals to your product. This ties in with Rules one and two. Do have surveys with your customers. Sometimes it might be better to contract a third party for this, but getting feedback can also help you focus and sharpen your tools.
Law emphasis that you need to concentrate to achieve your target client. ‘It’s not about ‘Spray and Pray,’ she says. Companies offering a service or a product need to show they know their market, they know who their experts are in this sector and also observe the similarities within businesses. Every project you’ve done will give you an insight into the needs and solutions that can be re-applied for similar clients in similar situations.
Rule 4: Know your assets
There was consensus between those present that, one of the best assets a company has, is the people that work with you and their expertise. The best way to showcase this is by showing the work you’ve done for others.
When you call a client, the objective has to be crystal clear. ‘I’m calling you because...’, should be the opening of your conversation.
Taking some time to think about what your assets are, and putting them into words, is an excellent exercise to further your business growth. Your website, your tendering papers and your employees should all have a clear image and a unified message of what sets you apart from the rest and how you can add value to your clients’ businesses.
Ultimately, clients should feel like partners, working together towards a common objective that will benefit both companies.
Following this advice will give you a master plan that should be the basis for your business.