When is it right to say no to new business?

I think it is fairly true to say that times are not exactly easy at the moment and that the process of attracting and subsequently winning new clients has probably never been tougher than it is in the current economic climate, but, I feel that there are times when a business should be strong enough to say no.

But….when it that time? When is it right (….or is it right) to say no to new business?

Well, I dont think there is a formula for taking this type of action, but I have just found myself in a position where I was approached by a great piece of potential business. The company in question wanted to launch a new business and required a logo and a website all done within a fairly short timescale so that he could attend a function where he had these marketing platforms in place.

All was going very well in the meeting as I was able to show the prospect examples of similar work already delivered for similar clients. However, when the conversation turned to money, the figure specified by the prospect was probably a third of what Bath Marketing Consultancy would normally charge…….and we are a very “cost effective” company compared to some marketing companies!

Having slept on things, I decided to politely decline the business. The reaction from the prospect was a little frosty and the words “well, I will go and talk to someone else” were used, but a month or so on, I know I made the right decision.

In a nutshell, there are plenty of organisations who “buy” business. These organisations seem to put very little value on their levels of experience, their service levels, their staff or even the end products or services they deliver relying heavily on their costing structure to acquire new business. I see this approach to marketing as one that can only totally devalue a brand. After all, what happens when someone else adopts that marketing strategy and simply undercuts you? I know that customers who are happy to pay a premium for service and the all round package another organisation offers are in decline, but if you do want to use costs as a motive for others to work with you, market this as a one off “sale” and put a time limit on it.

I saw a company on Twitter recently offering a similar package to Bath Marketing Consultancy’s “Marketing Tool Kit” (offer on until end of October 2012) at just over £500. I dont actually know how that is even possible not only sustainable!!

To me, cheap very often turns out to be very expensive and when it comes to your brand or your marketing message, you need to make sure prospects see the whole picture and really see the value in what you offer. In addition, I dont know anyone who would ask a service provider like a dentist to do a cheap job or a Solicitor to “bang out a will” would you??!!!!

Running a Seminar as part of marketing?

The decision to run a seminar should not be taken lightly. It is very likely that you know your subject matter inside out and could pull together a presentation very quickly, but a seminar is a tool that is used to enhance your reputation so care, attention and in particular, preparation should be taken. There might be an argument for a conference rather than a seminar as this would imply that you are on a major marketing push and have reputable speakers from outside your organisation. 

Seminar or conference, it is all about making it a success and it is not as easy as it seems. Once you have fixed the date, it is going to happen! You cannot postpone or cancel as this would have very negative implications for your business, so plan ahead and here is my checklist:

Choose the actual title with care; make sure that you are offering something valuable like “how to achieve…….” or “The benefits of …….”
The venue is paramount. Make sure you visit in advance and have good audio visual equipment (if required).
What about the parking, signage, cloakroom facilities, refreshments etc
Produce formal invitations that are sent out in advance and that specify format, content, directions, timings etc
Follow up your invitations by telephone! (obvious, but very often missed)
Chose the best date (avoid start or end of the week, national holidays etc)
Try and give at least 6 weeks notice of the event to your invitees
The location must be accessible with parking & possible overnight accommodation if required)
Make the timing of the event comfortable – not a whole day of non-stop talking
Use outside speakers if possible to add credibility
On the day of the seminar/conference, make sure you have enough staff on hand as well as badges for the delegates – remember they are unlikely to know each other!
Make your leave behinds good

In other words, if you are going to invest time and money into this sort of marketing activity, do it properly and for the right reasons. I feel that one of the best ways of achieving success is to get a professional company/organiser in to arrange the event……………….and a professional marketing company to do the marketing!

It’s noisy out there!

To be blunt, it is noisy out there in the market you operate in. If you are in charge of a business or its marketing, collect what you receive in the post or via email in a month and see how much stuff you receive. Some of the larger companies I have worked with conducted this little test and one person presented me with a crate of stuff! Literature had come in all shapes and sizes; from postcards to full glossy brochures, from free samples to letters almost begging for business! Plus there was the trade/professional magazines that had landed on her desk complete with their own advertising, tips, inserts, CDs etc. 

Make some noise!

When it comes to marketing, how are you going to make an impact in an environment that is so busy??! In my opinion, too often marketing plans seem to be put together in a dark room without any real attention being paid to the noisy environment in which they will have to function. Do not take it for granted that the prospect you are trying to get hold of is just sitting at their desk waiting for you to get in touch with them and once you have, they will give you all the time you need to close the deal! 

You must shout to get heard; you must fight for their attention and aim to be remembered. A possible plan should be put together to cope with all the surrounding noise from others. Queue jump if need be to get ahead of others. Sometimes being too polite and hanging back will allow someone else to jump in and get that meeting.

Make your marketing simple, clear and easy to differentiate from the noise. 

Need help? Get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy and we can do a marketing audit for you for a fixed fee.