The Phone’s not Ringing…What’s the Problem?
While at a client’s office last week, the owners repeatedly commented that the company phone was not ringing. Knowing that it’s important to first identify the problem before you can solve the problem, I had them give me their office number, and with my Blackberry, I dialed the number while sitting in their office. Guess what? The phone rang just fine. In fact, we found out that the phone worked just fine every time we dialed the number. What we learned from this seemingly simple exercise is that the phone wasn’t broken, however, their marketing and public awareness plan needed some work.
My next question was, “how do they let potential clients know that they are in business?” Sheepishly, they said that they didn’t. They just expected the phone to ring because they did good work! Now, there is nothing wrong with that logic, however, as both the client and his partner observed first hand, that doesn’t always work. If you want people to find you, you have to tell them where you are, what you do and how they can contact you.
In a slow economy, many business owners question the value of increasing expenditures, let alone any expenditures for advertising and marketing. Some marketing experts will tell you that a slow economy is exactly when you, as a business owner, need to INCREASE your marketing dollars. This can seem counter intuitive – it seems to make no sense to spend money on advertising when in a down economy sales are slow. But, what about a booming marketplace like the Bakken oil patch, where the phone is ringing off the hook? Why should you spend money advertising for more business when you can’t handle the business your’ve got?
Both economic circumstances require you to make the decision – to spend or not to spend? However, the question you should be really be asking yourself is, to invest or not invest? The logic for your advertising and marketing dollars is as follows: any business needs to continue to let clients know that the business is still in operation in both good and poor economic conditions. In a slow economy, it makes good sense to advertise/market so that your clients know what your capabilities are and that you are able to fulfill customer needs. In a fast pace economy it can give you the opportunity to attract the type of business that is the most profitable and minimize the business that is marginally profitable.
Granted, the cost for marketing/advertising is expensive. However, there are ways in which you can help reduce some expenses or more importantly maximize the return on other:
A local chamber of commerce membership provides lots of networking opportunities–After Hours, Rise & Shine Breakfast, Leads Groups, and Special Seminars are all tools which to meet and network with other business people. You’ve paid for the Chamber membership, you need to use it. The true value of your investment is to avail yourself of the many opportunities your chamber provides for its members. Participating in the many, varied committees of your Chamber builds your brand awareness as well as allows you to interact with other business leaders in your community.
If business is somewhat slow, look at participating in some community activities– the school, Boy/Girl Scouts, Youth sports, Little League baseball, Rotary, Habitat for Humanity are just some examples of community activities that can always use volunteers. The community activity is the recipient of your talent, and your firm gets the no cost PR.
The old fashioned way of knocking on doors is hard work and somewhat frustrating– however, if there is no work in the shop, it is far better to “mine the contacts” and see what might be available instead of waiting for the phone to ring. After all, you can transfer the office phone to the mobile phone, and begin the trek of knocking on doors. Of course, some strategic planning needs to go into which doors to knock! You can just start down the street and begin knocking, you may get a job that you did not anticipate.
Recognizing that resources are tight in any market, and even more so when sales are down, if you wish to continue in business, you must continue to let clients know that your firm is still up and operational. What are you doing to generate phone calls? Are you knocking on doors? What about social media? Do you have a Facebook or Twitter site? Are you participating in various community events? Are you participating with the Chamber? If not, these are ideas that will prompt the phone to start ringing!
To learn more about Solomon Bruce Consulting LLC, visit their listing in the Synergy Station Directory or the company website.