How do you chase new business?

March 2, 2007

A resource that I have enjoyed for a long time is  They describe themselves as "your online source for insight, advice and tools for growing your service business."

And they are certainly that.  I almost always find gems of insight in their articles. 

They have just released a new research report What’s Working In Lead Generation.  (with the obligatory sub head:  How to Spend Your Time, Energy & Money for the Best Marketing ROI in B2B Professional Services.)

They’ve been kind enough to share a press review copy of the report with me and over the next several posts, I’d like to share with you some of the wisdom their research has uncovered.

As we always should, let’s start with where we’re at today.


The report goes on to say that:

45% responded that finding a lead generation strategy, tactic, or offer that works well is "extremely challenging" or "very challenging".

84% of respondents reported that in the next two years they will increase their lead generation efforts.

What does that mean for us?  First, everyone agrees that finding new business is no small or easy task.  And to reduce it to that probably means you aren’t really doing so hot at getting it done.  The second and potentially alarming stat says that the competition is getting ready to gear it up.   

Are you ready?  What is your lead generation plan?  Is it automated enough that if you get busy — it keeps chugging along?

For many small businesses, this is the biggest challenge.  They launch a lead generation tactic or plan and it works.  Yeah!  But also — Boo!  Because the plan is too dependent on their man hours.  And now the man hours are consumed with taking care of the new business they just generated. 

Once they get that new business under their belt — the pipeline is dry again because they could only do so much and then the work got in the way of continuing to fill the pipeline.

What do you have in place to prevent that?

More insights from the report are on the way….

Note:  The full report shares 6 key insights which I’ll be exploring over the next few days with you.  In the meantime, if you’d like to download their free 21-page summary, you can grab it here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A guidebook to reinventing the customer experience

March 2, 2007

Picture_2_5 I received a copy of Jonathan Tisch‘s Chocolates on the Pillow aren’t Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience and just finished it. 

Tisch is CEO and Chairman of Loews Hotels and his book is an insightful primer on crafting your customer experience.  Like Tisch, I do not believe a remarkable customer experience happens by accident.  It is the result of a deep understanding, an unfettered desire and a meticulous plan to actually delight your customer.

The book is a quick and enjoyable read.  Tisch draws from many different industries.  Throughout the chapters, he highlights key learning points in boxes marked Your Big Aha’s.

If you’ll give Tisch a couple hours of your time, in return he’ll share  insights like:

  • How to use technology to create intimate connections with customers — without losing the human touch.
  • Perfecting the art of the welcome in both physical and virtual spaces.
  • Finding the balance between transparency and the need for confidentiality.

I don’t care how good you are– there’s a tweak or two that you can make to your customer’s experience.  Let Tisch’s stories inspire you to do it a little better.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How to choose an agency: Do your homework (part 2)

February 16, 2007

Eenie You’re hiring an agency because you want results.

This is not about making your ads look prettier. This is about doing more business, smarter.

So, how do you choose the right partner?  Eenie Meanie Mienie Moe?

Well, if you read my earlier post you know I don’t think it should be an RFP.  But on the other extreme, it shouldn’t be just because your cousin works there either.

Following a simple process (simple to understand, but will take discipline and time to execute) will protect you from making an expensive mistake.

The phases of the process are:

  • Know what you want  (ask yourself questions)
  • Do your homework (ask the prospective agencies questions)
  • The meet and greet (get together and ask questions)

Now that you have a better idea of what you want and have figured out who to approach, it’s time to think about what to ask.  This is where most potential clients just spit out a generic RFP that won’t really tell them what they need to know.  Let’s not do that, eh?

Instead, let’s look at two different lists here.  What not to ask for and what to ask.

Don’t ask for:

  • Spec creative — why would you want creative based on no input, knowledge or insight?
  • A marketing plan — again, same concept.  No agency can give you good counsel based on some facts typed into a document.
  • A media recommendation — see above.
  • Samples of marketing or media plans.  Those are confidential.  If you don’t follow my advice and do ask — beware of any agency that sends one. Next time, it might be yours!

Okay, so here’s  what you should ask about:

  • Stats.  Size, composition of staff, areas of expertise, etc.
  • Any possible conflicts with your business/industry
  • Process — how they approach a challenge or how they move from idea generation to execution sorts of processes.
  • Case studies — with client contact info for references.
  • Personality questions — have some fun. Explore.  If you choose them, you are going to be spending a lot of time together.   Are they a good fit?

Get the information you need and give them a chance to let their personality show through, but don’t ask them to jump through a million hoops. Not yet. Demonstrating that you’re respectful of their time will go a long way. Remember, the smart agencies are sizing you up as well. They’re trying to see how you’d fit together and what kind of client you’ll be.

Once you complete your questionnaire (don’t call it an RFP — some agencies will just toss it.) send it to the list of agencies you identified.  Give them a reasonable (3+ weeks deadline) and enjoy reading the replies.

Next up — what to do when you’ve narrowed it down to 2-3 agencies.

The rest of the How to Choose An Agency Series:

Flickr photo courtesy of PeeJ0e

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]