I read once that something like 30 percent of all drinkable
water gets wasted on the way to the consumer by leaky pipes.
Likewise, your business may be letting potential revenue
drip away, to be lost forever, all over the place. Use this
checklist to make sure you are taking best advantage of all
the opportunities for earnings that would be arriving safely
if you only plugged up those holes.
1. Improve your followup. According to the National Sales
Executive Association, only about two percent of sales occur
on the first contact. Eighty percent of sales require at
least five contacts before the transaction occurs. That
means that if you put out your sales message just once or
twice, you're barely out of the gate. Those who might
eventually buy are hardly even beginning to pay attention.
You must repeat that message again and again before it wakes
up busy people to what you are offering.
2. Put your marketing activities on schedule with a plan. I
see a lot of businesses bedeviled by the "feast or famine"
syndrome, where they stop marketing when times are good and
therefore have no pipeline in place bringing them new leads
when the economy slows down. They get busy marketing, but
there's a time lag before new business comes in, and when it
does, they stop marketing once more, keeping the cycle
going. Instead, invest time or money in creating a
marketing plan that tells you what to do each week or month
to keep business continually flowing in. If it's too much
for you to handle, hire assistants or outsource it to hungry
but competent colleagues.
3. Increase your personal productivity by working at your
most creative times. Once I incited a firestorm of
criticism on CompuServe's PR Forum by revealing that I
hardly ever spend more than one hour writing a press
release. Other PR professionals opined that I couldn't
possibly create decent work that quickly. Well, I do, and
here's my secret: following a process that creativity
researchers will tell you is used by top scientists and
inventors, I absorb all the facts and define the challenge
for myself, then go to sleep, take a walk or step into the
shower. Within a day, my unconscious mind brings me a
"Eureka" experience with a terrific headline. The rest of
the press release pours out right after the headline. Had I
sat down to try, try, try to write that document, it would
take triple the time and not reach the same quality.
4. Stop unproductive marketing activities, boosting your
profits. Advertising pros know that most advertising
doesn't work, but they continue to spend like crazy because
part of it does. If you can identify which marketing
efforts of yours are not giving you a return, and stop
spending money and energy on those, you'll be earning more
from what you spend. Admittedly, it can be difficult
sometimes to pinpoint what actually brings in customers and
clients. However, if you begin asking each new buyer how
they heard about you and keep track of the answers, patterns
almost always emerge. One graphic artist learned through
this kind of research that nearly all her clientele came
from word of mouth and none from her ads in the local
business journal. Of course, the opposite discovery could
have happened, too. Don't assume, find out!
5. Market more often to your customer base - much more
often. Hardly anyone stays in touch with existing and past
customers often enough. They think they might be
"bothering" their clientele by letting them know about new
products, opportunities to buy before a price increase,
success stories of other customers like them, and so on.
Nope, it's not so. On the contrary, staying in touch
ensures that you stay in the awareness of people who have
done business with you before, so that when they need you
again, they come to you rather than go to your competitors.
6. Hire help for mechanical tasks or a virtual assistant to
help manage communications. Feeling overwhelmed? If you
can make, let's say, $100 an hour doing what you do best,
you should not be spending too much energy on routine things
like stuffing envelopes, doing errands like going to the
bank and the copy shop or putting together slides for your
upcoming lecture. Instead, pay someone $25 an hour to get
those to-do's accomplished and free you up to get more high-
paid work accomplished. An exception to this principle is
when you do the repetitive tasks as a break or rest from
money-making activities that tire you out.
Increasing your productivity means increasing the income
from your business without spending more hours working. Get
started on at least one of the above today!
Marcia Yudkin is the author of 6 Steps
to Free Publicity and 10 other books. She runs a private
member site, MarketingforMore.com, which supports business
owners who are growing their businesses. Learn how to avoid
the most common pricing mistakes in her free report, "Charge
More & Get It," available from