Minding your business

I struggled to find a good image to accompany this article so I thought you might like to see a nice countryside pic to lift your spirits and calm you down… ah! lovely! Anyway, onto businesss…

Do you know where your business comes from? I ask this question because if you don’t know where you currently find new customers and clients or get sales from you don’t know which bits of your market activity are working and where to focus your energies. You could be wasting time and money and also missing opportunities to get more business by doing more of the things that work.

When I talk to new clients I am amazed by how many of them have no real sense of where their custom comes from. Furthermore, there are those who really believe that a certain marketing activity must be working (usually because they’ve invested time and money into it) who on closer inspection find that the return on investment (ROI) is nowhere near as good as they had presumed. Remember that ASSUME makes as ASS of U and ME!

When I was head of marketing for a theatre our box office system neatly flagged up the question ‘how did you find out about the show/ event/ play’ etc as each ticket sale was made. This meant we had a clear idea of how people found out and we could adjust the amount of time and money we focused in different areas such as direct mail, advertising etc. It told us interesting things like a 5 star review in The Guardian, whilst nice and pleasing for the cast, director and even sponsors, had little impact on sales! It confirmed that word of mouth was massively important (as it is to all businesses) and that our sustained customer contact campaigns were paying off.

At tent we obviously have much fewer sales than a theatre and we are also business to business, not b2c. We also don’t have a fancy box office system to track this info and spit out pretty charts and reports but it’s still vital and very easy for us to keep track of this information.

We use the online CRM software Highrise to keep track of all jobs and all prospective jobs, qualified leads etc. Along with info about that job or prospect, estimated or actual value, what stage it’s at etc, we record where that job or prospect came from. Was it the result of a marketing campaign? did they find us on twitter? are they a referral from an existing client? Did we meet them at a networking event? have they attended a workshop or seen a presentation?

It only takes a quick scan of the system to work out where our work is coming from. This helps us to decide which networking events are worth attending, which of our clients refer the most work to us (handy to know, always good to thank them!) and which of the shows and events we exhibit at bring in the best contacts and projects. In doing this we made the very pleasant discovery that twitter generates more new business for us from new clients that any other form of networking! (Pleasant for me as I can justify my twitter addiction to Dom!)

It’s handy because if you do a specific direct mailer or you do a run of adverts somewhere you can see if the money you have invested has been well spent.

If you are a b2c business, you probably have a higher number of sales and customers than b2b and will be investing more and on a more regular basis, in marketing your business. Even more reason to make sure you understand how people found you. Was it your website? A direct mail piece or some door to door distribution? Did they see an advert or did they see your product featured in a magazine? Or did one of your customer referral campaigns pay off?

Of course there is an accumulated affect of your marketing and business development activity and sometimes it’s hard to attribute just one thing as being that way you got business. For example you might get a project through meeting someone at a networking event but part of their decision was because they’d built up a good impression of you through twitter or your email newsletter. However, in the main, always keeping a note of where business comes from will give you a really clear idea of what you need to do more of and what might need changing or even dropping our of your activity.

If you’d like some help with tracking your marketing success or you’d like to work with tent to take a more planned and effective approach to your marketing activity why not give us a call or come for a coffee and a chat in The Shed? We’d love to hear from you.

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