As you’re reading this you may be lolling on the foredeck of your 70-ft. Hinckley sailing yacht as your captain and first mate smoothly navigate you through the crystal waters off the British Virgin Islands; you may be lounging on your deck overlooking the Long Island Sound behind your Hamptons’ summer estate; you may be waiting to tee off on the 8th hole at Pebble Beach; you may be heading out of your cabin at Ruby Springs Lodge to start your day of some of the best fly-fishing anywhere; you may be sitting at a cafe gazing at the Eiffel Tower while sipping an aperitif . Or, if you’re a junior person in your firm, you may be sitting at your desk, staring out the window, and dreaming of the day YOU can do any of these things. Summer’s half-way gone … what are you doing with it?
This is the time many professional service firms slow down a bit. The second quarter has closed and the end of the third quarter is still more than two months away. Lots of businesses hibernate a bit during the summer as everyone takes a much needed vacation. But in addition to relaxation, it’s a great time for planning. It’s one of the few times in the year we actually have time to stop and think – a key element to success.
This is when I usually start thinking about my strategic marketing plan. While it “formally” goes into next year’s budget, my marketing plan informally starts at the beginning of September. I have enough data to look back at the last 12 months to be able to run projections on allocation of resources for the next 12 months.
If you want to get a jump on your business development efforts before work starts picking up again, here are a few tips to get started:
- Define your goal. Unless you state what you want to get from your marketing efforts, you’ll be spinning your wheels trying to get to who knows where. Who’s your perfect client and/or referral source? How many of each do you intend to get and by when? Remember to write SMART goals to be effective: Specific/Measurable/Achievable/Relevant/Time bound
- Determine your resources. Resources don’t just include money. Time is also a valuable resource. Energy is a resource. So are other people. You have to be able to balance all of your resources so you don’t burn out. How much time per week do you have to spend on networking events? Do you have money to sponsor a professional association meeting or conference? Who might be a good partner for you? Your answer to these questions will be crucial in drafting a workable marketing plan and will help you do only those things that promise the best ROI.
- Draft your marketing calendar. I find that if I can visualize what a particular week or month looks like from a marketing perspective, I’m better prepared to accept or reject offers of unpaid speaking engagements or attending an unknown networking event. I also include on my calendar due dates for articles (part of the visibility part of business development), follow-up coffee or lunch meetings with contacts I’ve met (crucial for building vibrant relationships), and even social media time.
If you try to do this during slow periods, you’ll be miles ahead of your competition when it comes to getting significant results from your business development efforts.
And sipping a frozen margarita by the pool at sunset can’t hurt the creative process!