20 Ways to Kick-Start Your Marketing

Checklist paper and pen.Every business experiences lulls, times when it seems that you barely have the energy to drag yourself into your office, and you can’t stand the thought of having to go out and generate business. This happens to everyone, and it often happens at the end of the year and during the middle of the year, as people are out of the office or in vacation mode and not doing a lot. Here are some of the actions I add to my marketing plan when I need to rev my marketing efforts up a notch.

1. Directly ask for referrals from your existing clients and prospects. “Who do you know who needs to compete better in their marketplace, who I might contact?”

2. Get in touch with your clients, just to check in. I never cease to marvel at how effective this technique is. Our clients often have a need for our services, but need our prompting to engage our services. Remember, our clients have already shown that they are sources of business.

3. Revisit your existing client list and evaluate who your best clients have been, in terms of project budgets, repeat business, and referrals. Think about what these clients have in common and how you found them. Where could you find other clients like these?

4. Look through your social networks. If you have not established connections with all of your clients, now is the time to do it. And see who their contacts are; if you see any that you think may use your services, ask your client for a connection or introduction.

5. If you identify a new issue or concern to your clients’ businesses, design a specific research product or service that would address your client’s specific needs, and send a (hard copy) letter to your affected clients, telling them about your new offering.

6. Write an article for a publication your clients read. It need not be long, and it should be practical and non-technical. Offer tips on staying updated on new web resources in their industry, or review a new information source.

7. Write ten blog posts and queue them up for posting over the next couple of months.

8. Prepare for and conduct three reality-check interviews with prospects in an industry that is new to you. Learn what their specific pain points are and develop an approach to market to this industry.

9. Identify a current topic of interest to your client base: “Best Practices for Using Social Media for Business Intelligence”, “Most Significant Competitive Intelligence Blogs” or “Best Uses for Twitter”, for example. Conduct your own survey of your network; this is a great time to ping your clients, colleagues, and prospects. Write up the results into a white paper, promote it on your website, and notify all your clients of the availability of your resource.

10. Look through all your projects from the last six months or year. Follow up on the issues that are regular concerns for your clients and send them a recent article on the topic with a note to the effect of “I saw this and thought you might find it useful with regard to {our recent project}”.

11. Commit to three networking outings a week. This could be anyone from a colleague to a prospect to a client. Take a friend to lunch and focus on building your mutual networks. Ask him what kinds of leads he would like to hear about; depending on what he does, that might be sales referrals, job opportunities, leads for good employees, or client projects. Tell him what kinds of clients you are specifically looking for. These kinds of meetings are great ways to hone your 15-second “here’s how I will help you make strategic decisions” speech, and they keep that word-of-mouth network humming.

12. Use an obscure holiday as an excuse to send out greeting cards to your clients and vendors. I remember a family friend who sent out cards for Groundhog’s Day every year; if your contacts are familiar with this North American holiday, this can be a fun way of staying in touch. The Spring or Fall Equinox, the Queen’s Birthday, Mardi Gras, or even something as silly as International Respect for Chickens Day (May 4) can serve as a reason for sending a card. And yes, these are real cards, that get stamped and put in the mailbox.

13. On a related note, check the social network profiles of your clients. If they list their birthday, be sure to send a card. And yes, that’s a printed birthday card, not an ecard.

14. Call a fellow info-entrepreneur. Ask her how her business is doing. Ask her what was the most important change she has made to her business in the last year. Share an interesting resource with her.

15. Call someone who is reliably upbeat and positive. That kind of energy is contagious.

16. Commit to reading every issue of several business newspapers or magazines for a month. Cut out at least two articles from each issue that a client may find useful. Send a hard copy, along with a couple of business cards, and a note along the lines of “I saw this and thought of you.”

17. Identify one new association that your prospective clients are likely to belong to, join it, and evaluate how you can volunteer strategically in a member-facing capacity.

18. Attend a Meet-Up or local chapter meeting of an association you find interesting, even if you do not expect to find clients. Consider the visit to be professional development, not just marketing. I sometimes find my best clients when I am not looking for them.

19. Schedule a meeting of your advisory board. If you do not have one, this is a good reason to set one up. Identify four or five people whom you respect, who understand the issues of running a professional services business, and who are willing to give you honest feedback. Ideally, these are people who live in your general area, and can meet with you. If that is not reasonable, build a virtual advisory board that “meets” online.

20. Review all your professional listings, in the professional associations you belong to, on your social networks, and anywhere else you have your company listed. Upgrade and freshen up your listings, revising them to target your current market and to reflect your clients’ current concerns.