How much business is too much business for a boutique agency?
Did you ever feel too overwhelmed with new business enquiries? Never! New business is great for both small and big agencies. The first quarter of the year, and especially January, are busy periods for any agency as clients come back from long winter holidays and business starts burgeoning again. New projects, industry events, new fiscal year starts and more always seem to kick off around this time.
This month especially, we received a lot of inquiries from various industries, spanning from technology, fitness, defense, healthcare sectors, and even startups. More new business is always good news for agencies of all sizes. But what is more important for a boutique agency is maintaining that new business streak to continue to stabilize cash flow. This can only be achieved with a strong business development strategy and recurring projects from existing and new clients.
It is not always easy to keep new business coming in and some seasons are quieter than others, but here are a few helpful strategies to help you stay afloat.
Industry events are great for new business fishing, but you never go fishing with your bare hands. Instead, you come prepared. You need to ensure you are armed and ready to excel at your new business game with every event you attend. That means identifying your new business targets ahead of time, learn more about people you want to speak to (thank God for LinkedIn) and, if any of them are speaking at the event or are part of a panel discussion, attend and listen. There is no better conversation opener than your own feedback on something your prospect is into on an expert level.
Even if you don’t close your deal right there and then, there is no such thing as a failed business pitch or proposal. If you stay in touch and maintain your relationships with the business you are after, there is a chance your roads will cross. Yes, even at Active, we have lost business pitches in the past or submitted proposals that got buried for months – sometimes quarters! – with no resolutions or feedback. As we stayed in touched over time, our prospects eventually realized they had chosen the wrong agency or finally received budget approvals and got in touch with us again.
Stay creative and you can always work out a solution or proposition that will spark your existing client’s or prospect’s interest. It is important to continuously come up with ideas that will serve as a solution to their current struggles and can deliver a measurable return on investment (ROI). If your idea is strong and timely, budget allocations will surely follow.
Stay social and watch the space when trying to keep in touch with your existing retainer or project clients as well as prospects. Show interest in their social media activities, engage with decision makers, share, like and leave meaningful comments. This will help you not to be “out of the blue” person. When the right time comes and you decide to start a conversation, they will know you as that engaged and interested in their business person on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Last but not least, always be a consultant! Never allow your desire to up sale a service or a product to ruin your long-term relations. If even support or project is not right for your client, say it and earn their trust and respect as a consultant. It is never good for your business to overpromise and underdeliver no matter how tempting project fees may look. Happy hunting!