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Most effective ways to get new clients revealed

A new survey is finding out about the experiences of professional services firms in getting new clients, and the results will show processes that are working, those that are more cost-effective and those that might be a waste of your resources.  Despite the much touted fact that selling further services to existing clients is more cost-effective than obtaining new ones, the reality is that every business needs a steady stream of new clients.  If you could find out the most cost-effective methods to acquire new clients, you could save precious marketing budget ‘experimenting’.  Competitors are unlikely to directly share what’s working for them, but wouldn’t it be great to know?   Those who complete the survey can opt to receive the results.

For a whole variety of reasons, every business loses clients over time.  Some of the reasons could be –

  • You have succeeded or completed the work, and the client no longer requires your service
  • Client has moved to a competitor due to their specialization, marketing, service, price or some other reason
  • Client personally knows someone who has just set up in competition and transfers
  • Client has decided to do it themselves – perhaps employing in-house
  • Client’s business has grown or changed and they require services you don’t offer or specialize in
  • Client is unhappy with your service and leaves

No matter the reasons and how you respond to these, it’s essential to regularly replace these clients to maintain your business.  This is a critical function of your strategic thinking and planning.  The block many professional services firms face, is understanding really what’s working in the sector.  It’s very easy to waste resources spending time and money developing and implementing strategies that, had you understood the experiences of others in the industry, you would have steered clear of.  It’s logical to share what’s working within a sector, and what’s not working, but most firms are reluctant to share this directly with competitors.  Most are especially reluctant to openly admit what hasn’t worked.  Also, what’s worked in other professional services sectors who are attracting similar clients, could also work for you.

The survey has been developed to find out, anonymously, what’s working and what hasn’t been cost-effective or good use of resources for professional services firms.  It’s short and can be completed in just a few minutes.  On the final page there is a web address that you can go to and opt to receive the results.  The survey closes at the end of October and can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/professionalfirmsnewclients

 

 

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Here’s how to niche

Many business owners are reluctant to select a niche to focus on, fearing that it will reduce their potential client base, and result in less sales.  Last week, while on holiday, I witnessed first-hand a company using a very specific niche to their advantage, and really making it work.  So how did they do it?

We decided to take the children to Auckland for a night to use a credit that was about to expire on our travel club membership.  We were looking for a good deal for a family and the best one we could find was at Jet Park Airport Hotel in Mangere.  The main reason we chose it was that it offered free parking, which made it more cost-effective for us than some others, plus we could get a free shuttle to and from the airport – a novelty for the children.

Jet Park Hotel have chosen the domestic air traveler as their niche market.  Everything in the hotel and their packages is set up for this.  Everyone staying there is entitled to a shuttle both to and from the airport and if you stay one night or more, you can park on their property for up to 14 days!  The hotel is not situated as close to the airport as many others, but is in a mixed area of industrial and residential properties.  It is not a particularly salubrious area, but Jet Park have developed a competitive advantage that allows their strategy to work – they have used the lower cost of land at their location to allow the free parking benefit for all their customers.  The hotel is set back off the road down a long driveway, and alongside it runs empty fields they have turned into carparking.

Given the cost of parking your vehicle anywhere else close to the airport, the free parking is a massive advantage to domestic travelers with vehicles and also for those attending conferences and training in the rooms they have available for businesses.  Niching in this way allows the hotel to target everything they do.  They market directly to national air travelers.  The reception staff clarify at check-in when you need a wake-up call for your flight, and when you need to book the shuttle.  There’s some other nice touches too, like a small indoor and outdoor play area for younger children, a pool to cool off in over summer, a small library if you want to borrow a book, and complimentary fruit and mints throughout the hotel.

The interesting thing is that we chose the hotel even though we were not air travelers.  The free parking made it a good deal for us, and we used the shuttle as a bonus activity with our children.  We went to the airport viewing lounge and watched some international flights arrive and depart, and had a snack at the food halls.  I’m sure we are not the only ones outside their targeted niche that choose that hotel because the benefits are valued by others, as well as the niche.

Of course the Jet Park won’t suit everyone.  Some travelers will prefer to be on the airport campus, and others will prefer to stay in the central city or other parts of the city.  But no hotel will suit everyone.  By selecting a niche and serving that niche very well, the Jet Park Hotel has made its marketing activities easier to select and target, as well as how it trains its staff, sets up the hotel, manages add-ons etc.  While we were there the hotel appeared to be very busy, and the award-winning restaurant seemed well patronized.  The shuttle was non-stop collecting and dropping passengers to and from the airport.

So how can you apply this idea of serving a niche to your own business?  Can you break down your customers or target market and serve one or two niches really well?  Do you do that already?  Are you ‘dominating’ that niche? How does this streamline your business activities like marketing, customer service, product and service development and staff training?  How do the services and add-ons you offer for your niche benefit others and grow your business?

Making the most of expos

We attended the BizExpo at the Kingsgate at Te Rapa today. It could have been an excellent opportunity to network with local businesses, but sadly the word did not get out, or perhaps the weekend was the wrong time to hold a B2B event. It was extremely quiet, maybe half a dozen people attending. Some of the exhibitors told me they had got to know some of the other exhibitors and that they were likely to use each other’s services, so some felt it had paid its way. Others thought it had been a complete waste of time.

Networking with the other exhibitors is definitely a benefit of an expo or trade fair. However you also want to get in front of the visitors attending. When we went through, only one person encouraged us to hand over our business cards, or give over our email address. As there was almost no-one else there, I stopped to chat to most of the exhibitors, and still only one asked for my card. That’s leaving the best opportunity of an expo or trade fair untapped. If you are paying good money for a stand, the least you want to leave with are the contacts of all the people who took an interest in your products or services, so you can follow up afterwards. The opportunities are not necessarily on the day of expo itself, but in the follow up. If you are going to exhibit, its important to understand how to do that, and to have clear goals about the outcomes you want from your outlay. You also need a plan to resource the follow up activities.

Hopefully any expo you choose to exhibit at has a much larger number of visitors than this one. If so, you also need to staff it adequately with both enough people and the right sort of people. Expos can contribute to a growth strategy, through new client acquisition, but must be well targeted and well managed. It also pays to check out the track record of the company running the expo.

Jenni is the Director at Strategies Direct, where she helps clients in professional and services industries to develop unique strategy and implement it effectively to achieve their goals. She invites you to download your complimentary report ‘How to Think Strategically’ at http://www.strategies-direct.com

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