Most business owners would love to be so busy that clients are lined up waiting for their services. Do you want to know how to smooth out the ups and downs of the Feast-or-Famine Syndrome? Read on to find out.
A business consultant once said to me, “One of the biggest challenges in business growth is juggling the pursuit of new opportunities while maintaining a 100% commitment to existing clients.”
The reality is that many business owners are likely to experience, at some point, the Feast-or-Famine Syndrome: streaks of many well-paying clients followed by stretches of the doldrums with few paid clients in the pipeline.
It’s scary not knowing where your next project or influx of clients is going to come from, and how can you chase new clients when you are already running so fast just to keep your business afloat?
There’s only so much time in the day to handle client service, administrative tasks, marketing, and the demands of life. And it’s easier to focus on the work right in front of you than to find the mental bandwidth to think about the future.
The trap is that most business owners get so immersed in delivering value to their current clients that marketing temporarily takes a back seat. If you don’t actively promote your business, your market visibility recedes and you unintentionally sow the seeds of famine.
The result is a dwindling client pipeline!
Here are four tips to help you strike a balance between serving your existing clients and finding new ones.
1. Focus Your Resources. How should you allocate your marketing resources—your time, energy, effort, and your marketing budget? The key is to find just the right balance in marketing to three groups: current clients, prospective clients, and the broader marketplace.
Without question, your best source for new businss is from your existing clients and the referrals they can provide. Your current clients should generate the largest share of your profits, so plan to allocate 60%-80% of your marketing efforts to your existing clients.
Prospective clients represent the next generation of work for your practice. Your goal is to convert prospective clients into paying ones—if they fit your targeted client profile and have problems that you can resolve. Commit 20%-30% of your marketing resources to win work from this group.
It’s always important to maintain visibility in the broader market. This includes everybody in the business world not represented in the two groups above. Invest 5%-10% of your marketing resources in the broader market. Focusing on this group is less efficient, but the effort has the potential to generate important contacts and leads.
The 60/30/10 percentages are rules of thumb, and are not set in concrete. If you’re just starting a business, you’ll expend more of your marketing efforts attracting prospective clients.
2. Taking a Step Back. It may not be new advice, but the most potent weapon to battle feast or famine is a well thought-out marketing plan. Take a step back from your day-to-day work with clients to create a long-range marketing plan that’s realistic, will help you achieve your business intentions.
Where do you want your business success to go? What clients do you want to work with? What sets you apart from your competitors?
Without a real marketing plan that addresses those questions, your marketing will always be a hit-or-miss proposition. You might make time for marketing when it’s convenient, but you will put it aside when more in-your-face activities overwhelm your schedule.
The most effective marketing plan is short—seven points to be exact. It should fit on a single page. Feel free to add as much detail as you’d like, but begin with the basics.
3. Drawing the Map. Have you ever been convinced that you knew where you were going only to find out that you were totally lost? When you’re lost, you will look at a map, or set your GPS to quickly get back on track.
A marketing road map, much like a road map will spell out the details of how and when you will implement your marketing plan to steer your marketing activities in the right direction.
Preparing your marketing road map is a strategic and tactical activity. It begins with your ideas on how to present your business to the marketplace and sets a precise schedule for each marketing activity on your plan. Your marketing road map will always show you where you are and what you need to do to arrive at the future you’ve designed in your marketing plan.
You should derive energy and enthusiasm from your marketing road map to keep you driving toward your business success intentions.
4. Maintaining Traction. The most successful business owners know that marketing is a continuous process. Marketing success is about creating momentum through consistent action over a sustained period of time. You must be the constant force behind that process.
Once you have momentum, it’s easier to lose than it is to maintain. Stop paying attention to your marketing activities and you’ll lose your hard-won marketing gains—you’ll have to start from scratch.
How much time is enough to maintain your momentum? Opinions vary, but try to spend a minimum of 20% of your time on marketing your practice. I set aside one day a week on marketing. Variations of this rule are everywhere, so assess your own situation. But keep at it, no matter what.
You should schedule your marketing time at the beginning of every week. If you are going to take a day to market – schedule the dates for the entire year.
Treat your marketing “appointments” with yourself like client time: it’s uninterruptible, unless there’s an emergency. When you reserve marketing time on your calendar, you will see your market presence and success grow.
Starting and growing a business can seem like a roller-coaster ride, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep your business goals in the mind’s eye of your targeted clients, no matter how busy you are serving others.
That will smooth out the ups and downs and pay dividends down the road. Take time every week to advance the visibility of your business, and you’ll experience continual feasts—without the famine.
Do you have a marketing road map for this year? How is it working?© Copyright 2013 Laureen Wishom