Top Cat Creative Services

65 Ways to Get More Business
by TC McClenning
A four-part series in the Creative Marketing newsletter, 1999

By implementing a few suggestions a week into your business routine, you're sure to have an unstoppable year.

1. Send holiday thank you gifts to all your clients.

2. Start a regular mailing program to current and potential customers.

3. Keep on the lookout for articles relating to your industry or service. Send these off in the mail with a quick note to potential clients.

4. Advertise, advertise, advertise! Make sure you have regular coverage in your local and industry publications.

5. Join at least one local business group this year. Attend meetings and functions regularly.

6. Sign up to do volunteer work for at least one organization this year.

7. Attend industry-related conventions.

8. Attend business and motivational seminars. They are a great source for new ideas, networking, and renewing your commitment level.

9. Start a newsletter for your client base. Bimonthly or quarterly works best. This marketing tool gives you another opportunity to get your name in front of customers. In the newsletter, you can discuss such things as new products or services, industry changes and updates, charity work, and awards.

10. Consider getting a toll-free telephone number (if the volume of your business justifies the cost).

11. Use postcards to get your message out whenever possible. Postcards are less expensive to mail and can be a great way to send reminders, miscellaneous holiday greetings, notes of congratulations or thanks, and announcements about sales.

12. Make sure your mailing list is up to date. Once a year, call to confirm contact names and mailing addresses.

13. Even if you're a very small, one person business, consider hiringe someone to help free up your time to handle the more important tasks. This could be a student who helps after school or someone who comes in one or two mornings a week. Let them put labels and postage on mailings, enter data in your database, stuff envelopes, pick up office supplies, deliver flyers, and other time-consuming tasks.

14. Find ways to renew and maintain your motivation level. This could include listening to motivational tapes, attending motivational speaking events, or having a personal micro network of friends or business colleagues with whom you can vent and give/receive pep talks.

15. Never answer your business line or cell phone in an unprofessional manner. It screams amateur.

16. Develop a publicity campaign for your company. An article in a local newspaper or publication speaks volumes about your company's credibility and reputation. Each month or quarter that has record sales, every award, new employee, or new product should be getting print space in local and industry publications.

17. Publicize your charity work, whether it's sponsoring the local little league team or having employees spend a week building a Habitat for Humanity home.

18. Join at least one major business organization. With so many out there, you surely can't be a member of them all. Consider your local chamber of commerce, minority organizations, International Association of Business Communicators, or the Association of Women Business Owners, to name a few.

19. Sign up to do committee work for one of these organizations this year.

20. Do at least one networking activity a week. This will amount to 52 opportunities in the course of a year. Even with a conversion rate of only 10 percent, that would be an impressive accomplishment.

21. Get hooked up to the Internet. Have a personal and professional online ID name and be sure to fill out your ID profile with your company information and business interests.

22. Use the Internet to stay up-to-date on research and trends.

23. Network on the ‘net! Countless structured and topical discussions exist on the Internet. Many chat sessions are offered on such topics as being a Realtor, how to market your business, and business trends (some have convenient evening times).

24. Subscribe to the many free newsletters and e-zines available online. Once you submit an e-mail to subscribe, each issue will conveniently arrive in your online mail box without any additional effort on your part.

25. By being on the Internet, you'll have an e-mail address—publicize this on all your collateral materials.

26. Strongly consider getting a Web site if you don't already have one—no matter how small your business. It's become an essential part of doing business today. Include your Web address on everything.

27. Script out sales or follow up on calls in your head or on paper before getting on the telephone. This is especially helpful for cold calls. You'll have a very limited amount of time to impress the prospect so don't forget to mention your best points (e.g. years of experience, how your fees compare with the competition, etc.).

28. Smile while your on the phone—it changes and improves your voice and will make you seem more enthusiastic and cheerful.

29. When giving a presentation or meeting with a potential client, ASK for the order.

30. Reassure your customers of their decisions.

31. Thank your clients. Let them know you are happy to be doing business with them.

32. Exude confidence—even if you have to fake it! This is just as important when you're discussing your services over the phone or in a face-to-face meeting.

33. Hone your communication skills.

34. Stay away from taboo discussion topics like religion or politics.

35. Send a survey to your customers. Their feedback could be crucial to improving your business. 36. Don't take critiques or criticism personally.

37. Offer something free for potential customers—free brochure, estimate, report, market analysis, or consultation.

38. Write (or have ghost-written) an article in your area of expertise. For example, a Realtor could write an article about what to look for when shopping for a new home or a landscaper could talk about how to maintain a lawn.

39. See if your local paper has a need for a weekly column in your field. An Ask the Expert column is always popular. Always try for a byline in the column that includes your name, business, Web address, and contact information.

40. Keep track of your own performance as the year progresses. Compare data with your annual goals to see if you're on track for the year

41. Deliver what you promise and don't make promises you can't keep.

42. Reassess your company materials—logo, letterhead, business cards, fax cover sheets, and collateral materials such as brochures. Are these accurate, up-to-date, visually appealing, professional looking?

43. If you're missing any of the items in #42, develop them immediately!

44. Stay informed on everything that involves your business field (changing laws, new markets, new competitors).

45. Read industry-related publications.

46. Become indispensable to your clients by being the best at a service they need.

47. Be an excellent listener

48. Hone your presentation skills.

49. Offer a free report to get prospective customer leads.

50. Stay on top of holidays. Do you know what day each of your clients celebrates his/her birthday? Don't send Christmas cards or gifts three days before the big day. Make sure your offers for holiday cheer get there in ample time—mail by the first week in December. Who hasn't received a late card or gift and thought, why did this person or company even bother?

51. Get to know the parents of your children's friends. A great business lead or referral could be right under your nose!

52. Organize, organize, organize! Never waste time and energy fumbling around for a blank floppy disk, note pad, pen, or those sales figures from last quarter.

53. On a related note, know where and what everything is on your desk. It sounds very unprofessional if you're on a business call and have to go through several stacks to find a fax you received or a pen so you can take notes.

54. After getting organized, resolve to spend at least an hour a week to maintain this organization.

55. Maintaining an organizer, day planner, or Palm Pilot is a must. You'll never forget an appointment and crucial numbers will always be with you.

56. Return phone calls promptly! If a client needs an answer today, calling back in three days won't cut it.

57. Monitor time spent on phone calls and stay on track with the purpose for the conversation.

58. Use e-mail and voice mail as much as possible.

59. Check and reply to e-mail at least twice a day—mornings and evenings. As we become an increasing impatient and instant communication-oriented society, people get frustrated and irritated if it takes more than a day for you to reply to an e-mail.

60. Try having a couple hours of unscheduled time each week to use as your overflow or catch-up time.

61. Upgrade computer systems to minimize time spent opening programs or files.

62. Eliminate time wasted on errands like getting postage stamps or office supplies by ordering by mail, phone, or online. Use the time saved on these kinds of tasks to make calls to promote yourself, touch base with old customers, etc.

63. Make the most of your down time—if you're in the lobby waiting for a client meeting to begin, use this time to update your to-do list, check voice mail, return a phone call, read a business publication, etc.

64. Do whatever it takes to eliminate procrastination from your life. It will reduce the stress in your life by not having to rush around at the last minute or put in late night hours to complete a project in time.

65. At day's end, take a few minutes to map out the next day in detail so you'll be ready to hit the pavement running the next day.