First aid tips for New Year Success: 5 Ways Your Business Could Be Leaking Clients and How to Plug the Leaks Fast!
Imagine that you have been given the task of filling a drum at the bottom of your garden with water. You are to get the water from your kitchen sink. The distance between the drum and your sink is about 50 metres. You have one hour to complete the task! You grab two plastic buckets and get to work, puffing and panting as you lug the water from the kitchen to the drum. Twenty minutes later, you stop to catch your breath and, to your surprise, you are nowhere near even half filling the drum! At this rate, you appraise, you will most certainly not finish the job in an hour. You therefore recruit two of the neighbours’ children to help out. Equipped with more of your trusty plastic buckets, they join in, everyone working even harder than you did before!
Another twenty minutes later, you stop to see how well you are doing. And you can hardly believe your eyes! You are still far from half filling the drum. Puzzled, you lay your buckets down, trying to understand the situation. Only then do you discover that all six of your plastic buckets are leaking to varying degrees! Your hard work has been sabotaged by the leaks in the buckets!
The drum in the above scenario is your marketing pipeline or database, the place where you nurture your leads before they become prospects and then clients. The buckets are your various marketing activities and the neighbours’ children are all the friends, colleagues and partners who send you referrals. The leaks are the many hidden ways that we self-sabotage our marketing efforts! I have encountered several nasty leaks in my work helping women entrepreneurs get clients. In this article, I will share five of these with you plus ways to avoid or plug these nasty leaks. You can then stop the self-sabotage and get better returns on your marketing efforts.
5 nasty marketing leaks that could be costing you clients and stealing your hard deserved income!
1. Prospecting but not following up, or not following up effectively: Are you collecting business cards, making social media connections, meeting new people at networking events, joining referral schemes and everything else you know to do to generate leads, but you have no effective follow-up plan? This is one way that you are losing possible clients. It is my belief that if you are actively networking among your ideal clients, you already have within your network all the leads, connections and potential clients you need to keep your business going. Remember the 6 degrees of separation theory?
How to plug this leak: Go through all your communications for last year – email and social media inboxes, private messages, online groups and forums, business cards you have made follow-up notes on etc. Make a note of everyone you intended to follow up with but have not concluded with. Get back in touch and learn how you could help them, then do just that; be helpful! This could get your foot in their door and prepare the way for favourable communication. Develop a written plan to stay on their radar with regular communication. Keep on being a resourceful connection. Keep them up-to-date with what you are doing and how they could help you too. Be specific about what you need – introductions, referrals etc. Put dates in your diary for all your follow up activities. Delegate and automate what you can. Then going forward, put everyone you connect with who looks like an ideal client, referral partner or gatekeeper into your follow-up system. This way, you will get better returns on your networking and marketing efforts and plug this big, nasty leak!
2. Having too many marketing activities to monitor each and get the best from them:
How many LinkedIn or Facebook groups are you in? How many of their updates do you read and respond to? Your potential clients and referral partners could be in those updates, but if you get too many, how can you maximize this lead generation stream? You cannot! And the opportunities will “leak” away! The same applies to all those networking events you attend. Does it really make sense to attend a new one every week and to join every social media platform that pops up?
How to plug this leak: Find 3-5 marketing activities that suit you, your business and your target market. Master them and track your efforts. Keep what works and ditch what does not. Ignore the other distracting “shiny objects.” You do not need them at this time! Limit your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter groups to a manageable few for now. Then get active with the few, paying attention to the updates, making contributions and building relationships. This is how to find potential clients and generate referrals.
3. Web site and promotional materials not aimed at lead generation: I.e. not channelling enquirers onto your database for organized follow-up. All your marketing materials, online and off, must play some role in getting qualified prospects onto your database. Most people do not buy on first contact and need to be courted. Lead generation gives you the people to court. Without this step, you lose a large percentage of the people who find your promotional materials or visit your website and social media profiles, but who do not engage with you right away.
How to plug this leak: Ensure that all of your marketing efforts and materials lead interested prospects to your database. Do not let them slip away! How? Provide something of value in exchange for their contact details and permission to stay in touch. This way, you invite them to begin a relationship with you even if they are not ready to buy just yet. With effective follow up such people could eventually become clients or pass on referrals to you.
4. No clear marketing message, so people do not understand what you do:
You might as well be shouting, “Oi!” in a crowd! No one will answer because you have not called their name. A clear message taps your ideal client on the shoulder, says their name and tells them what they have been waiting to hear – “I have the very solution you seek. I am here to solve your pressing need.” Without a clear and compelling message, your audience will not notice your business in the crowded marketplace or see any compelling reason to enquire further. They may smile and comment about how “good” you must be, but never see a reason to do business with you!
How to plug this leak: Create a clear and compelling marketing message that tells who you are, whom you help, what problems you solve and what is different about you. Focus on the unique benefits you offer and stop boring people with your credentials and history! Include a clear and easy-to-follow call to action so that interested people know exactly what to do next to engage with you, and are enticed to do so!
5. Not tracking results to maximize your marketing:
a. Are your newsletter subscribers spread out geographically, or concentrated in clusters? If you know this answer, you might be able to reach more of them, reducing the number that slip away. For instance, if a large percentage of your subscribers are in a particular city, that could be a great place to hold a live event! Or if you are planning to participate in a local event you can target specific marketing to your readers in that region.
b. How many people visit your website, blog, or landing pages each day, week or month? What pages get the most visits or longest stays? Was there a surge in traffic after something in particular you did? How many of your visitors sign up, buy or connect with you? These answers can tell you what to do more of and what to stop, ensuring that more of your visitors convert to paying clients.
c. Where are your enquirers coming from? Which strategy, campaign or tool is bringing them in, and which is not working? For every teleclass you hold or flier you hand out, how many enquirers do you get and how many become buyers?
How to plug this leak: Monitor each of your marketing activities and determine what is working and what is not. For the activities that work, determine how much and what you need to do to deliver X number of clients or customers. Then work smartly for predictable results. Track the results of your web pages, landing pages, social media pages, email marketing software etc with web analytics tools e.g. Google analytics or outsource this function. Once you understand your traffic you will be able to get the best from your efforts and convert more of this to paying clients.
Did you recognize any of these leaks in your own business? If you did, now you know how to plug them! Here is wishing you a prosperous New Year and a leak-free business. All the best in 2012!