Thursday, April 2, 2009

Its Not The Economy. It's You

"Why Not Following Up Hurts Your Business"

A couple weeks ago I attended a networking event hosted by IMPATT (see earlier post). I thought it was a great event . It was interesting meeting people because I'm always interested in people who need my services.

I met a young man that was interested in marketing his film productions. He was very passionate about his business. We talked for awhile and I asked him many questions. He was really interested in getting funding for his project.

So I handed him my card and asked him to call to tell me more. And then he gave me his card and said something like: "OK, I'll call you next week."

Guess what? Two weeks later, I still haven't heard from him!

Add to that the fact that I made it a point to contact everyone who had an email address on the cards I had. I had cards with 15 emails, a couple without. Only 3 responded, the rest didn't even acknowledge the email. The young man didn't either. What happened? Your guess is as good as mine.

I think that it's important to point out that that's what we call in Trinidad “normal”. Even when making a connection with a real potential client who has a real need and who has real money to spend, many Independent entrepreneurs lose so much business because they fail to follow up.

I must add here that I was contacted by someone who did not have an email address on his card. In fact, I think he did not even have a card. That made the event all worthwhile. The point is that there are so many entrepreneurs who complain about the state of the economy.

I want to let you know that it's not the economy that's NOT hurting their business. They are.

The science of successfully attracting more clients has very little to do with the economy, brilliant marketing messages or exposure on every single social media site. It has a lot more to do with setting up opportunities to connect with more qualified prospects and actually following up with them.

So why doesn't everybody do this? Three main reasons:

1. People don't have a system and they are not prepared. They literally have no plan, no intention, no purpose or goals to build their business. They don't have a written strategy or plan. They haven't thought much about the tools and resources they need.

And if you don't have that, nothing much will happen. Not even if the economy picks up. By the time it does, your business may be dead and gone. Without a plan and preparation and some serious thinking about what you're doing and what you're trying to accomplish, your business will not grow.

2. People are disorganized and unfocused. Even if they have a basic plan, they are scattered. They get home after a networking event, put the cards they collected on their desks, and then they get busy and the cards collect dust. Two weeks later, they look at the pile of cards and go, "Oh, s###! I forgot to follow up with anyone at that event!" Oh Well.

If this is how you grow a business, you're in deep trouble. Like my young film producer friend, without some system and organization, he will be left with a pile of cards but no appointments with potential clients.

3. People Are Afraid of Rejection. If all of the above wasn't bad enough, we fail to follow up or take any kind of proactive action because we think things like this: "I don't want to be pushy. If they're interested in me, they'll call me. I'm just not the sales type. I don't have time for follow-up."

All of this is a disguise for deeper fears such as: "It's not like me to market myself too aggressively. I'll be “boffed” rejected and then won't be able to show my face again. I really have nothing of real value to offer. Why am I doing this anyway?"

You must differentiate yourself to put more money in your pocket.

Those who are attracting as many clients as they can handle are doing the exact opposite:

1. They have a plan and they know what they are doing. They are focused, prepared and ready to play the game of business and marketing.

2. They are organized with real systems in place which they follow without fail. Follow-up is not a burden but an opportunity.

3. They make decisions and take action. They understand the value of their service and don't worry about being rejected. They just do it.

Now if this is you, you are attracting a lot of business and you probably wonder what all the fuss is about! You realize that marketing yourself is part of your business and you simply work at getting good at it until it's never a big issue again.

For everyone else, please read this carefully:

If you are not attracting as much business as you could because you have no plan, are poorly organized, and are afraid of rejection, what are you going to do to get beyond these three things?

Here are your options:

1. Do nothing and hope the economy changes. I recommend that you look for a job and stop driving yourself crazy.

2. Try halfheartedly but continue to complain about how everybody is cutting back and marketing is so hard. Same as above.

3. Make a real commitment to change. Realize that if you don't have a plan, you are up the creek without the proverbial. Get organized and take action. Action makes things happen.

There you have it.

Flip the coin, you have two choices. Truth is sometimes we cannot do it alone. Everyone of us need help at some time. Realizing we need help takes some time. Accepting the fact is the first step. The next is action, do something, anything. And remember, if you keep doing what you have always done you will continue to get what you have always got. Change something. You decide when and what.

As always be well.


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