Recently a consultant approached me at a business event and complained that he was having a hard time finding new clients. This is one of the most common complaints I hear from business owners in just about every industry. While you can put the marketing wheels in motion, they don’t always work as expected, which can leave you frustrated and put your business in the danger zone.
One of the easiest ways to find new clients is to figure out where your past clients came from and do more of what works. You may think that all that networking you’re doing is bringing you new business, but when you look more closely you may find that two of your three networking groups aren’t producing results. You can’t know what’s performing if you aren’t tracking the results.
Analyzing Your Customer Data
To gain a better understanding of your clients and where they’ve come from, make a list of all of your clients from the last two years. I recommend doing this in a spreadsheet so that you can keep a running record to review periodically.
Next to each client name, write in the amount of revenue earned (note that you may be able to export this information from your accounting software depending on how you keep your books). Then, sort the list based on your highest revenue-generating clients to your lowest. Lastly, next to each client note how they found out about your business. Did you meet at a networking event? Were they referred to you by someone? Do they follow you on Twitter? Did they respond to a direct mail campaign? Be as specific as possible in order to get a good grasp on how they found your business.
Once you finish your list you should have a clear picture of how clients come to your business. More importantly, you will have a roadmap of the strategies that have proven effective in generating business so that you can do more of what’s worked for you.
You may find that certain people are referring the majority of business your way. If that’s the case, be sure to cultivate those relationships and appreciate those people. If specific ad campaigns bring you business, then consider whether you should do more advertising. If your costs to place ads are less than the new revenues generated as a result, then increasing your advertising spend makes sense.
By the same token, if there are marketing campaigns that you’ve run that haven’t made an impact on client acquisition, then avoid repeating those mistakes. I recently asked a colleague how many clients she had landed as a result of her weekly networking group. She told me that the year prior she acquired three new clients but this year she hadn’t signed any. We determined that she was wasting 16 to 20 hours per month in a group that wasn’t generating results. Her time could be much better spent on other revenue-generating activities.
If for some reason you’re unable to capture client data from recent years, then start now. Ask every new client how they heard about you, and train your staff to do the same. Document sales figures and soon you will begin to see trends. The goal should always be to do more of what works and to let go of any marketing strategies that aren’t producing results.