Time to spring clean your marketing. Now that the possibility of spring is upon us, there’s an opportunity to harness the season’s hopeful feeling with a good hard look at your marketing plans.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a check list to get you thinking about ways to attract and retain clients:
- Clean out that client list. Take a good look at your clients. Chances are the last time you examined your clients was the last time you opened your doors. Or introduced a new product. Ask yourself: “Who are my best clients and why?” Your best clients are those you love to do business with. When they call or email, you can’t wait to respond. When you deal with them, there’s mutual respect. Working sessions are constructive and the end product is something you’re both proud enough to brag about. Many times your best clients are those you’ve worked with for a long time, but not necessarily. We all have a few long-term regulars that have nothing to recommend them except their longevity. They’ve been around so long that everyone involved takes the relationship for granted. The spark’s gone. You no longer push yourself to suggest fresh ideas. You’re just following a well-worn pattern of marketing activities that continues to deliver dependably mediocre results. If that’s the case, it’s probably time to part ways for both of your sakes. How do you know it’s time for that? Ask yourself: 1) When was the last time you felt the need to call – yes, CALL- them and say, “I’ve been thinking…How about we try….”? 2) Are you checking what you did for them last year and just changing the date? 3) Have you “accidentally” deleted more than three of their emails in the last month? If you can answer yes to any of these, it’s time to respectfully end the relationship. Explain why you feel another provider should look at their needs with fresher eyes. And, as a lovely parting gift, suggest some alternative consultants in your field. That way you’re not leaving them in a lurch and you get to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with a colleague.
- Find out what you’re doing right. So many of us are accidentally successful with clients. We really don’t know what we do to make them smile. Why not ask them why they appreciate the relationship? What’s the value-added you bring to the party? Finding out what you’re doing right can inspire you to do more of it. Take the measure of the relationship in several ways: 1) Find out what metrics they use to define success and monitor how your marketing plans are impacting them. Not just at the end of the contract, but year-round. With online marketing, those metrics are out there for the taking; 2) Get a sense of how their relationship with senior management is going. Make sure your marketing plans are helping them to strengthen it; 3) Have someone else in your organization interview the client to find out what you’re doing right and where you could do better.
- Dust off the goals. Make sure your marketing plans are aiming at the right targets. Revisit the “why” of your marketing plans and make sure it hasn’t changed. Has the company decided to go after new target audiences? Have your product offerings expanded or contracted? Are you looking at new opportunities down the road that you should start supporting? Now is a great time to step back and look at your plans instead of waiting for budget time.
- Break new ground: Be proactive in bringing new opportunities to your clients without waiting for them to ask. Monitor the online and traditional media that cover your clients’ industries looking for upcoming trends. Find posts and news stories that suggest opportunities and send them along. And make sure the agenda for your regular meetings always includes a “down the road” section to remind everyone to look beyond the day-to-day.
- Re-evaluate the sacred cows: Admit it. You have them. They are the projects and programs you do every year “just because.” They are the things you’ve done year after year and you’ve forgotten why. Take a hard look at these “sacred cows” and ask yourself if they still serve you well. If you’ve forgotten why you do them, chances are the answer is no. Spring Cleaning is a great excuse to quietly (and assertively) give them their leave. Expect blow-back (“but we always do blah-blah-blah in the spring…”). And that’s when the “assertive” part of this advice comes into play. Be strong. Be resolute. Be strategic!
Once you spring clean your marketing plans, your relationships with clients and prospects will feel clean and shiny. You will feel spruced up for spring and ready for what’s next.