4 Ways to Win New Business: Lessons I Learned in My First Year
I am presently celebrating my first year as a new business owner. Last October I formally launched a creative firm in New York City called Second Language Design. As its Principal and Creative Director I’ve learned many ways to turn a friend or former colleague into a client. Although these methods require serious thought, they are simple enough for anyone to successfully execute.
Following are my four top ways to gain new business.
1. Lean on Your Brand Messaging
You’ve launched a business! You have identified a need for your service(s), constructed a business plan and developed appropriate brand messaging. The best thing you can do for your new business is to lean on the messaging you developed whenever you speak about your business.
Since your messaging reflects the tone of your brand, your mission and the services you offer, there is no better way to talk about your business than to lean on your existing messaging. When a person asks about your business – whether they are a new acquaintance or a family member – you and your staff will appear prepared, speaking with clarity and consistency.
2. Stay In Touch
Remember all the people with whom you’ve cultivated relationships throughout the course of your career? Congratulations – they are about to become your lifeline to new business!
Sometimes being at the forefront of a person’s mind is enough to remind them that you exist and that you offer a service they need. I personally circulate newsletters on behalf of my business on a quarterly basis. When I sent out the first newsletter to announce the launch of Second Language, I not only got a tremendous response wishing me well and congratulating me on the new endeavor, but also a few new creative projects. It would have been easy to lose touch with many of the connections I’ve made throughout my career, but by reaching out via a newsletter and social media one can easily cultivated them, turning acquaintances into clients.
Another important factor in sending out a communication such as a newsletter is to keep the copy concise and incorporate images whenever possible so as not to overload people with more than they have time to read. Brevity plays a large role in successfully getting your message across because, let’s face it, everyone is busy! Take into account that the decision-makers doing the hiring probably don’t have much time to spare.
When I create a newsletter, I typically draft a short one- or two-paragraph introduction along with two or three images of recent projects, each with a one- to two-sentence description. The reader can click to learn/see more at their leisure, but the newsletter overall looks manageable, as proven by our open rates. According to MailChimp.com, our open rate is 51 percent (Mailing List Average) vs. an open rate of 20 percent for the Industry Average (for Creative Services companies).
And of course, aside from newsletters, staying in touch can and should mean reaching out to people in your social networks. Simply maintaining a regular presence online, contributing useful information that you yourself would be interested in is a given for any business. And, sometimes just making sure your audience is aware that you offer X service is enough to convert them to clients, which leads to my next point…
3. Explain What, Exactly, You Have To Offer
On your website, in your email campaigns, in your social accounts and across all of your marketing materials, be sure to convey all the services you offer in as accurate and concise a manner as possible. This information, which is already on your website, can be rolled out more gradually in your communications (emails and social media) and in person.
Keep in mind, as mentioned above, that the key is brevity. Moreover, make sure you convey all of your offerings, because if your audience is not made aware of a service, they cannot hire you for that service.
A potential client recently reached out to me about creating a website for a new company… she said she wanted to create the website yesterday. However, as we were talking I thought to ask whether she had existing branding or a social media campaign in place. As it turned out, she needed branding and online marketing services, but didn’t know we offered those services until I mentioned it. It benefitted everyone for me to expound upon all of our offerings – without doing so we would not have gained a larger chunk of business, and we wouldn’t have strengthened the client’s new business as much, either.
4. Lead with Goodwill
Finally, there will be times when you encounter hurdles with a client. I urge you to keep a level head and remain positive and encouraging, knowing it’ll yield more business in the future. We had a client for whom we were doing a logo redesign, and because of a simple misunderstanding they expected something far different than what we presented.
We decided to deliver what they originally intended at no additional cost, and ultimately they ended up hiring us for projects beyond the original scope of the logo redesign. This is an example of increasing your business via an existing client just by nurturing the relationship and delivering results. It would have been easy and probably satisfying to be defensive, but it wouldn’t have been helpful in winning new business.
These tips may seem straightforward, but I like to think of them as accessible. It truly doesn’t take a genius to be a successful entrepreneur – it just takes some planning and persistence, all with a positive attitude.
Your next client is closer than you think.
This article was written by Darcy Briks, PR veteran and Principal/Creative Director of Second Language Design, and published by Mediabistro.
Darcy formally launched Second Language Design, a New York City-based creative firm, in October 2013. She brings together various creative and marketing specialists, with whom she has worked over the course of her career, to form teams that focus on the goals of each client. This includes branding, print and web design along with marketing, public relations, social media and other services.
Darcy has 10 years of design experience and honed her skills as Creative Director for one of the industry’s foremost public relations firms – Rubenstein Public Relations. She launched their creative department and managed all in-house and client design projects, including corporate identity programs, marketing collateral and websites.
Mediabistro.com is dedicated to anyone who creates or works with content.