A recent call from a friend needing help to generate some new business to fill in for a delayed contract got me to thinking of how to help him from this happening again. One of the challenges of being a small business or solo entrepreneur is the cyclical nature of the business. It seems like you’re always either delivering or creating your products or services or you’re trying to drum up business. By the way, the term drum up business came about because the earliest traveling salesmen were called drummers.
I suggested getting a drum and beating it on a street corner to my friend. I’ll spare you his response as I don’t want to engage in profanity. Shame on him.
I then discussed the following process with him. It has worked for me for many years so maybe it can be of value to you too. It might even help you get off the financial roller coaster of running a small business.
- First write down all the benefits that you deliver to your clients. Give this some serious thought. Do you save them money, make their lives better, help them increase their company’s value, allow them to live the life they want, find them more customers, etc., etc. You should be able to make a pretty long list.
- Next write down why your clients choose you over all the other choices they have in the world. Don’t be shy here. I want you to have the courage to face the truth and write down why you’re different and better than your competition.
- Now make a list of companies that you know could use your services. They may be in the same market as your other clients or you’ve already seen that they use a competitors products or services.
- Here comes the fun part! Do whatever it is that puts you in your most creative mode and pretend you are now the CEO of the company you want to sell. I want you to put together a plan that will help your company (not YOUR company – remember you’re pretending to be the CEO of the company you want have as a client) be more successful. Successful should tie back to what you wrote in Step #1 and #2.
- Since you’re using the reasons you listed in the first two steps to help define the plan that means that your plan will use the services of someone like YOU.
- Now go make an appointment to see the actual CEO of that company. Tell them you have an idea that will help them (back to the Steps again).
- Present your plan. Create a new client.
Sound too simple or too complicated? Here’s a scenario. You’re a professional studio photographer. You do most any kind of photography and you’re good. But, you’re stuck trying to find consistent business. So, you apply the process above.
You write down all the benefits you bring to your clients along with all the reasons why they should buy from you. (By the way, this is the most difficult part of the process.)
You see that a local community bank is spending lots of dollars advertising how they are different than the big banks. They are saying things like:
- They are local.
- They are more in touch with their customers.
- They know their customers.
So you go see the CEO and you tell her that you have created a marketing campaign for them that increases their community visibility while driving home their core message. It’s called “Faces of Our Town.” You’ll go out into the community where you will take candid portraits of people working, playing, learning, praying, etc. You’ll get all the necessary releases for the images and then you will create large prints for a gallery that will be hung in the bank. For the next 90 days all the banks advertising will be focused on the gallery. After spending the first 30 days in the bank the gallery will travel to other local business, schools and churches to be hung in their buildings. You’ll take care of all those details too. At the end of the campaign the photos will go into a permanent display in the bank and the people in the photos will get a nice sized copy for themselves.
The CEO is thrilled at the idea. You’ve just made her job easier and you are taking care of all the details. It’s a win-win. And, they are already spending lots of dollars on trying to create the very perception you are going to enhance and strengthen. You are offering so much value that the investment in you and your services will not be a factor. She will ask how much. This is where you look her straight in the eye and give her the price. And, this is where you also remember the things you wrote down in Steps 1 and 2. You’ll get the contract.
And, guess what? Your name is attached to all the images, the gallery and the permanent display. Thousands of people all of whom are potential customers will see your work. You’ll be getting some of the best advertising and public relations possible.
And, you’ll be getting paid for it too.
What’s stopping you? Put away the drum and start with Step #1. You can adapt this process to any type of business.
Let me know how it works out and don’t hesitate to ask questions.Photo courtesy eschipul