Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sidebar Strategies

Being nimble, assertive, creative, and data driven are certainly the best overall business development and marketing strategies.  Sometimes, however, just being there, when the competition is not, is a successful business strategy.   At other times, not burning bridges with past clients can offer a surprisingly successful segue into  attaining future work.

Recently I had the opportunity of meeting with a potential client before she announced she was looking for a consultant.  How did that happen?  I keep a targeted list of 40 near-by national and regional colleges and at least once a year I send out very basic promotional material to their public relations directors and follow-up with a phone call.  This builds awareness of my services,  helps cultivate relationships over time, allows me to update my prospect list and is a superior way to gather  raw intelligence about my competition. 

The director from one school responded to my email with a cheery note saying my timing was perfect, that they were looking for a publicist and writer, but were struggling with how to conduct the search.  I met with the director, and she hired me without even putting out a request for proposal to other consultants.  Just being there before others turned the trick.

When you get fired from a job, it is natural to resent it, but try not to overtly express resentment because the bitter after-taste will linger with the client long after you are gone; whereas if you express appreciation for the work you have been privileged to complete, the good feelings can lay the foundation for future work.

A year ago, after I had been working as a consultant for a large medical institution for over a decade, a new VP was appointed and he wanted all work done in-house.   I was told my services were no longer needed.  In parting, I said I greatly valued the exciting work I had been assigned to do over the years (which was true) -- and left.  Within a year, I received an email out of the blue from this same VP who was now a Sr. VP at another institution, and, knowing my work, he asked me to undertake a large number of projects.  I don’t think that would have happened if we had parted on a sour note.