Getting New Business Fast
by Marcia Yudkin
Recently two business owners
came to me in dire straits. The first, who owned
a dental billing company, had suffered sabotage
by a disgruntled employee. Clients deserted in
droves when told, falsely, that he was being
investigated for fraud. The second, who owned a
computer training firm, had neglected to market
for a year and had just discovered the delayed
effect of his omission. Both appealed to me:
Help! We need more business fast!
Even in such circumstances, an
existing business has assets that can be
exploited to drum up sales and cash flow
quickly. Use your intuition about whether to
divulge your real situation to friends who might
be moved to help or put a bright face on your
situation by, for instance, saying you're
expanding. Either way, consider these five
options if a comparable disaster befalls you.
1. Leverage your loyal clients
through testimonials and referrals. The billing
company's most steadfast client, a periodontist,
provided a glowing testimonial that the owner
used to approach other periodontists. Similarly,
the training firm told their lingering clients
that they were running special summer classes
and offering big discounts for every participant
from another company that they persuaded to sign
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2. Send direct mail to clones
of your best clients. Construct a profile of the
kind of customer who had been most drawn to you
in the past, and engage a mailing-list broker to
furnish names and addresses of individuals or
companies matching the profile. For the training
company, that meant law firms and accounting
firms with more than 20 partners.
3. Offer a trendy new service.
What unmet needs of existing clients could you
satisfy? Invent new services or shift sideways
to parallel services you might not otherwise
bother with. The billing company, which normally
concentrated on insurance reimbursements, now
said it would also collect overdue balances from
individuals who had promised to pay out of
4. Telemarket to new prospects
with an irresistible offer. Bend over backwards
to prove yourself to people who have never done
business with you. Your offer needs high appeal,
a low introductory price, and a guarantee that
removes all or most of their risk in trying you.
For the billing company, the inducement was the
first quarter of service for half price, and no
charge at all if at the end of 30 days the new
client wasn't 100 percent convinced that the
change simplified their office routines.
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5. Sell your white elephants.
Do you have inventory collecting dust in a
storeroom - or property that you could quickly
convert into salable items? The training firm
had proprietary manuals for each of its courses
that it could sell as add-ons for its other
classes or consulting. It could also license
them to other training firms that hadn't gotten
around to creating their own products. Indeed,
even if you're doing fine, you might have wares
you haven't bothered to sell in a while. Through
online auction house eBay and its competitors,
you might be able to turn your white elephants
into cash - fast.
Copyright 2000 Marcia Yudkin.
All rights reserved.
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