The world is in turmoil. That’s a hell of a statement to begin an article with but after everything that’s happened this year, you can’t doubt its truth. With a pandemic (yay COVID-19), race relation issues, wildfires, Brexit (sorry to mention that!) and an economy that is tanking faster than you can say “Where’s all my business gone?” the world has become an increasingly challenging place for everyone.
The workplace is no different and if you work in the marketing agency sector, you may find yourself faced with a variety of challenges that necessitate adaptation and transformation or risk finding your business heading the way of the dodo.
But I’ve always believed that even in the most challenging of economic environments, it is still possible to win over customers and keep revenue flowing. We might have to work harder and, more importantly, smarter than we would normally but business doesn’t stop even if the world seemingly has. Over the years I’ve managed to fight through some of the most difficult times and come out the other side both wiser and relatively unscathed (I started my agency in a recession and started my coaching practice during the financial crisis of 2007!).
Here are a few tips so you can do the same:
The importance of building a mailing list
The importance of building a mailing list cannot be underestimated. Here is a really important point to ponder:
With a mailing list, you own the details of the people who are interested in what you do. Many marketers ignore keeping their own list in favour of social media. But the problem with social media is that in essence, it is ‘rented space’. You are only ‘borrowing’ the information of the people you come into contact with and at any moment it can be taken away. To highlight this let me tell you a quick story:
Recently a story came to my attention of someone who had managed to accrue 10,000 followers on Instagram and was using this for most of their new business generation. 10,000 followers is a huge pool of potential clients and a great way to generate revenue. Unfortunately, this person got their Instagram account hacked and as a result, Instagram cancelled their account.
Overnight they lost not only 10,000 followers but 10,000 potential clients and their main source of revenue. If your main audience is based on social media, you need to actively move them to your mailing list to not only protect yourself in the event of a catastrophe such as in the story but to allow you to directly contact leads in any way you see fit.
You are your company’s best salesperson
Here’s a question, “Who knows your business better than anybody else?” Let’s follow that question up with, “Who do you think is the best salesperson for your company?” The answer to both questions for many businesses is most likely YOU!
You built your business from the ground up and understand everything there is to know about it. As a result, you are the person best placed to explain it to others and extol its many benefits and virtues. Who else has as much passion for what you do as you? You can hire dozens of sales professionals to help sell your marketing business but at the end of the day, they will never be as good as you at selling your company.
Qualify leads to save time, effort, and money
Every business needs a way to make money. To make money you need conversions or sales. To get conversions you need leads. That’s how simple running a business is. Marketing is no different. The problem is, leads are not always easy to come by and when they do arrive, you may find that many end up in a frustrating dead end. That’s why you need to qualify your leads properly to prevent wasting time, effort, and more importantly, money. In a difficult climate like the one we currently find ourselves in, it is even more vital that we focus our energy on those avenues that will actually generate revenue for us and not the many blind alleys we come across.
How do you qualify leads?
To understand how you can qualify leads you need to understand what lead generation is in the first place. Simply put, lead generation is the act of gathering information, such as names, addresses and email addresses, of people or companies that could benefit your business and, hopefully, generate sales. The goal of lead generation is to attract users to you, whether that means getting them to call you, talk to you in person, or visit your website and download something in return for their email address. But not all leads have the same value, and some may bring nothing but wasted time and effort to your business.
Knowing which of the many leads you come across to focus on and which should be left alone can be incredibly difficult. That’s why you need to find the right qualifying strategy to stop you chasing up blind alleys. Here are a few tips to get started.
Find a way to score your leads based on quality
Lead scoring is a great way to figure out which leads mean more to your business. Giving a value to each lead based on the information you have and how likely they are to convert allows you to focus on your best leads first before moving on to lower scoring ones later. How you score the leads will differ by business but will generally be based on the information collected. For instance, if a client has previously purchased marketing services from you or has shown an interest in a marketing field you specialise in, then they may score higher for you. You might score someone higher who has repeatedly interacted with your brand by filling in forms, making comments, or sharing and liking your content. Engagement with what you do is a great indicator that a client is interested in your services.
Get the right balance of information from your leads
The more information you have about a potential client, the easier it is for you to qualify them as a lead. If all you have is an email and a business name, you have no indication of how likely they are to buy into your services. But getting the right amount of information is not easy and there is a fine balance between getting what you need and overloading the customer with demands. Too many questions will turn away potential clients before they get anywhere near giving you their information. Make sure the questions you ask are pertinent to what you need while being as succinct as possible. This will allow you to figure out if the potential customer is worthy of your time or whether it would be better to prioritise efforts elsewhere. Once you have this information you can also assess the quality of your lead based on how much they interact with the email sequences that you will add them into once they have given you their email address.
Use a prescribed lead qualifying strategy
There are several different strategies for qualifying leads correctly, each with their own merits. Here are a few to try out for yourself:
CHAMP (Challenge, Authority, Money, Priority)
Champ is a way of looking at a client’s needs first and foremost and seeing if you have the right tools to help them, before moving on to asking, do they have the means and motivation to work with you? Here is a breakdown of the strategy:
What are the challenges, needs, and pains of the client? How can you help them, and do you have the skills they need?
Is the lead authorised to purchase your services? If they aren’t, can you find someone who is? If not, is the lead worth pursuing?
Does the potential customer have the money to buy from you? If there is any doubt in this area, move on to the next lead.
How urgently does the client need your services? If they are desperate and enough ‘pain’, they are more likely to buy. But you also need to ask yourself if you have the means to fulfil the order in the time frame they’ve set.
FAINT (Funds, Authority, Interest, Need, Timing)
The Faint lead qualifying technique prioritises money (that is, can the customer afford your services?) first and foremost before looking at the other aspects of qualification. Here is a breakdown of the technique:
Does the potential client have the necessary funds to purchase your services. If not, then don’t waste your time.
Is the lead authorised to purchase your services? If they do not, can you find someone who is? If not, is the lead worth pursuing?
How interested is the lead in working with you? Do they seem keen or are they standoffish?
Can you meet the potential customer's needs and have you the tools to deliver wat they want?
How quickly will the customer commit and if they do have you the resources to do the work they need?
Your customer is ready to buy when they are ready to buy
An important point to remind ourselves is that your customer is ready to buy when they are ready to buy not when you want them to buy!
Now, of course, you want to create a sense of urgency for your clients to try and get them over the conversion line but based on the fact that it should be their timescales, not yours, emphasises the importance of building your mailing list and having regular communications to nurture them so you are still front of mind when they are finally in enough pain and ready to buy.
When times are tough like they are right now, money can still be made and new clients found but to do so you will have to work extra hard as well as extra smart to find it. If you maintain a healthy mailing list, sell your business yourself, and qualify leads effectively, nothing can stop you from being successful. Not even COVID.