Bring on the fun and attract new business

Social media allows new clients to find you, and clever use of blogs and apps can start a happy trend, says Simon Hutton

Simon-Hutton.jpg

With To The Point’s ’I Shot The Serif’ app game taking the world (well, North America and Germany) by storm, our thoughts turn to what other innovative methods of drumming up new business have been doing the rounds lately.

We all want to work with well-known companies that do great work, but it’s the companies that aren’t well-known and have poor branding that can be the easier win, discovering the benefits of good design. These companies often rely on PR for their exposure so reading the national (rather than design) press will help you research and find these opportunities. Obviously, though, read the design press for inspiration.

Some quick searching online can reveal the in-house people who generate these releases so, with access to their e-mail or postal addresses, you can send a bespoke letter or e-mail that touches on how they could improve their profile and how you can help them achieve this. With overloaded inboxes we find a well-crafted letter is more often read and remembered, helping you to start a dialogue. But don’t expect them to ring you – you need to follow up with a call.

With e-mail you can also take the volume approach, as long as you don’t mind the possibility of clients thinking you’re spamming them. If you buy mailing lists for specific sectors you can tailor the e-mails with appropriate case studies of your clients in this sector and hopefully show the benefits, or better still the return on investment, you have achieved for these clients. Always play to your strengths rather than seek new challenges in new sectors – clients like to feel you understand their business.

Multi-mailing is a very effective route to getting your message in front of a large number of prospects for very little outlay. However, be warned. Some people can get quite touchy about it so, if you have the resources or you can afford a new business agency, a cold call to the intended recipient before sending an e-mail can make it more likely they will read it.

Allocating time to new business is essential and you shouldn’t stop when you are busy. Plan ahead for those quiet times. A good database (or CRM system) will help you to develop and manage a mailing list of the people you speak to. Make sure you ask them if they are happy to receive materials like a monthly newsletter. This way, if they haven’t got work now, you are more likely to be in contact at the right time when they do have work. Just make sure your materials aren’t only about you, but also offer useful advice and insight into ideas that may benefit them.

Using Twitter and Linked In to broadcast your thoughts can raise awareness of your consultancy significantly.

The best way of engaging with prospective new clients is, of course, by allowing them to find you and this is where keeping your website dynamic, blogging and other social media marketing techniques come into place along with pay-per-click and search engine optimisation.

Some people say, ’Clients won’t find a consultancy by searching online’ and they may be right. But think a bit laterally. If you were thinking of rebranding, which steps might you need to go through first? Maybe some research into employee engagement? Is there actually more going on than just a rebrand? Perhaps the client is merging – would ’managing change’ be further up their agenda?

These are the questions you need to ask. Then consider what your audience might search for. Make sure that you have an opinion on these subjects, write white papers on them and then submit them to the right places, including your own blog, with some good search engine optimisation content and techniques.

Adam Whittaker, of new business agency RSW, says, ’The number of people you probably could engage with is huge, tens of thousands, and for all these people you need pay per click, SEO and a good blog. But there are probably only a few hundred who are your absolute priority and for these people you need to be sure they know where you are, which is where the integration of social marketing with one-to-one marketing really comes into its own.’

By using Twitter and Linked In to broadcast your thoughts, it’s possible to significantly raise awareness of your consultancy.

Gemma Went, founder of Red Cube Marketing, has worked with a number of design groups on their social media activity. ’Many dismiss it as something that doesn’t apply to them, but after illustrating where people they want to engage with are online and how easy it can be to strike up a conversation with them, they tend to be more comfortable about investing in it,’ she says.

’The blog is a fantastic tool for “showing” people you’re great at what you do, which is opposite to the website, which “tells” people. Partner this with a Twitter profile and Linked In activity and you have a powerful marketing tool.’

At To The Point we welcome digital communication, but balance this with more traditional techniques, such as our printed desktop calendar. But our fun iPhone app has opened new doors we weren’t expecting.

Simon Hutton is managing director of To The Point. The iPhone app game ’I shot the serif’ is downloadable for free at www.tothepoint.co.uk/more/fun/shoot_the_serif

Engage your audience

  • Do your research – read the national press as well as the design press to find companies to target
  • Multi-mailing – a cheap and effective way to ensure your message gets out, but calling first can break the ice
  • Keep in touch – make time to manage your mailing list and talk regularly with prospective clients
  • Social media – blogging, PPC and SEO help potential clients to come to you. Think laterally
  • Prioritise – while you reach out to thousands let your core audience know where you are

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