As we don’t have time to go through all of them, let’s take a more detailed look at some examples from across the relationship spectrum and prioritize them into our first ten steps to a business development campaign
1. What are your goals?
You need to have a clear idea of what success will look like. This will help you to manage your own and others’ expectations.
Financial goals – in terms of fee income and profits – are not sufficiently detailed for your campaign. So you will need to break these down into more manageable sub-goals and, as the sales cycle is usually quite long, into process milestones and outcomes (results).
For example, on the process side – how many talks will you deliver, how many events will you attend, how many web visits do you expect, what number of followers and online interactions, how many new contacts are on your database, what response rates to e-shots, how many meetings arranged or invitations to pitch and the desired conversion rate, etc? On the results side, you might consider the specific number and type of clients or cases/transactions you want – and at what value.
If you set measurable goals at the outset, it will be easier for you to select the right activities to help you achieve these aims as well as set up systems to enable you to measure progress and results.
2. What is your target market?
Sometimes there is a lack of clarity over the target market. Sometimes the chosen target market is too broad. Whilst larger firms can address mass markets (e.g. the personal injury market or all owner-managed businesses), smaller firms are more likely to be successful in targeting a specific niche.
Once you have identified your target market, you can identify the relevant channels to reach them – whether these are predominantly through traditional means or online and digital methods.
3. What is your market or client insight?
The best campaigns are based on a deep insight into the current or future needs of your target market. If you can identify a need that is currently not served by existing providers then it will be easier to develop your proposition and your campaign. It might mean that your campaign has an initial product or service development aspect where your creativity and innovation skills are required.
4. What is your proposition?
Rather than thinking about promoting all of your products or services, identify a specific proposition that meets the needs of a specific target market in a particular situation. You may need to package up different elements of technical expertise with service delivery and relationship management facets to create a compelling proposition.
Developing a value proposition that differentiates you from the competition is a challenge.
5. What is your overall strategy?
It is unlikely that you will be working alone and in isolation so you will need to align and integrate your campaign with those in your firm – at the overall brand level and in different practice groups and offices.
It is likely that your colleagues will be targeting similar markets so your campaign should integrate with theirs – that way you spread the marketing load and have more people reinforcing the main messages in the market. It also means that each individual can play to their individual strengths as part of the overall campaign effort.
Most professional firms will have a bank of existing clients and referrers. You may decide that your main focus is on these existing relationships. This will be particularly important if cross-selling to the clients of other departments or offices of your firm is your main strategy. Your campaign will then focus more on internal marketing and internal communications.
If, however, you are primarily seeking new clients then you will need a different approach. You may decide to approach them directly – through advertising, media relations, digital marketing or personal selling or you may decide to approach them indirectly – for example, through third-party intermediaries or other referrers.
You may decide to adopt a push strategy – reaching out to people with specific communications. This would be the case if you are focusing on personal selling. Alternatively, you may prefer a more inbound marketing approach that pulls interest to your website and firm.
You will also need to decide whether you want to achieve your aims through high volumes of work or lower volumes of high-value work. And your service delivery and pricing strategies will be important here.
6. What is your content management strategy?
When there is clarity over what you are trying to say and to whom, you can turn your thoughts to your content management strategy. This is where you consider what knowledge or material you will provide – over a period of time – that positions you in your chosen market, raises your profile, and generates interest, interaction, and inquiries.
Your content may be in the form of books or White Papers, or presentations and articles and guidance notes and blogs based on them. It might even be within videos, infographics or apps. Whilst these major pieces of content may take some time to prepare – especially if they are research-based – your content strategy will consider how you extract specific topics that can be used on a monthly, weekly and daily basis to communicate through different channels.
7. What is your media or channel management strategy?
With ideas about what content you will have, you can consider the best ways to share the content with your target market. You may choose a predominantly digital strategy where you develop a special area of your website, manage pages and accounts in social media, and develop an online community through a LinkedIn group and an internal database from which to send email communications.
Alternatively, you might identify key associations or communities or groups where you need to have a personal presence – this may involve presenting papers at key conferences, collaborating with other bodies to present seminars or attending events where you can network.
Ideally, there should be a blend of these different channels and methods so that you raise your awareness in a market before you get face-to-face with people.
8. What mix of communications activities?
Marketing and business development experts can advise you on which communication tools achieve which results most effectively. For example, they can advise you on the relative strengths and weaknesses of, say, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising compared to search engine optimization (SEO) for digital marketing.
However each professional will have their own strengths and preferences. If you are a good speaker then it makes sense to include conferences, seminars, webinars, videos and online chats in your mix. If, on the other hand, you are more comfortable writing then articles, blogs and social media (LinkedIn and Twitter) will be your focus.
Some professionals will prefer to go straight to selling mode – getting in front of people at networking and social events. Or approaching organizations directly with a tailored proposal. Telemarketing to help set up appointments or research to create target lists or prepare proposals might then be a major part of your campaign.
But in general terms, you will need a blend of activities – some that capture interest and initiate a dialogue at the start of the sales pipeline and then more time-intensive one-to-one face-to-face activities as the relationship develops.
9. What’s the plan?
All of these decisions can then be crafted into a plan. You can then use this plan – showing what you hope to achieve and what you will do to make it happen – to secure the necessary resources from your management team.
The plan needs to show the start and completion time of each activity as there are usually some critical paths (i.e. some activities will need to be completed before others can be initiated). Some activities may need a significant lead time – for example, you will likely need to provide at least four weeks’ notice to get people to attend a seminar.
10. Are you committed to implementation?
Once your campaign plan is produced, the hard work really starts!
You need to find the time and motivation to drive its implementation. And it is an ongoing process so the stop-start approach of the typical fee-earning professional is unlikely to be successful.
The best campaigns are those that have sustained activity over a lengthy period of time. But the beauty of having a campaign plan is that you know in advance what needs to be done and there is a route map of bite-sized business development activity already mapped out for you!
Source: Forbes, INC.