Whether business development is officially in your job title or you’re a solopreneur who wears multiple hats, finding, developing and maintaining clients is one of your most important jobs.
Finding brand new clients is, of course, really important.
However, I would suggest that you likely already have a group of potential and previous clients that are an untapped resource.
These are people who you’ve had some professional contact with but who aren’t currently active clients — prospects who have yet to purchase, clients who you’ve engaged only once, or previously regular customers who haven’t bought in a while.
The fact is, it’s easier to build on awareness you already have than start from scratch.
Whatever your contact to date has been (assuming it’s neutral to positive), you have some level of awareness with these prospects and previous clients already. The trick is to convert that general awareness of you and your products or services to quality, top-of-mind awareness.
Quality means they know who you are and what you do; top-of-mind means you come to mind when they think about your type of company/service.
It’s a concept pulled straight from classic brand management: Quality top-of-mind awareness drives share. In other words, if you’re the first to come to mind for a given service, they’re likely to buy from you.
In the professional services context, one low- or no-cost way to drive this kind of awareness are with added value reconnects, (AVRs). Here’s what you do:
1. Create a list of potential prospects
These are people with whom you’ve already have some contact — they would recognize your name, essentially. If you’re already using customer relationship management software (e.g. Insightly, Salesforce, etc.), you can use that or a simple spreadsheet will work, too.
Comb through past emails, address books/contact lists, and even business cards you’ve collected over time to fill out your full list.
Now, prioritize it — get as intricate as you like in categorization, but at a minimum, identify a “top prospect” tier that you think represents the highest potential opportunity. Previous clients and clients with a positive proposal experience should probably make that top tier.
2. Make a reconnect plan
This depends on how much time you have dedicated and how long your prospect list is, but divide up your top prospect list and make a plan for when you will contact them.
For solopreneurs and small businesses, trying to do about five AVRs a week may be the right time investment. You’ll need to figure out the right pacing for you — keeping yourself top-of-mind, but not becoming a nuisance.
Adjust the frequency based on the existing strength of the relationship, but every few months or so typically feels comfortable.
Don’t feel tied to a pre-set schedule, though; it’s just a reminder system — if you come across a relevant article to share or your company just launched a new service that’s a perfect fit, those are great organic reasons for a AVR.
3. Add value
In each and every AVR, consistently offer some kind of added value for the client. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to do this, but it does require knowledge of your prospects and their business needs and context.
Keep detailed notes from previous conversations, check out publicly available information on their company and industry, etc. Examples might include: sending a link to a recent, relevant industry article, attaching a scan of a piece of competitive advertising, or sending along a case study on a particular business challenge you know they’re facing.
A regular schedule of AVRs with your top prospects can help create high-quality, top of mind awareness of you/your company and your services. High quality awareness comes from the value you add in every engagement and regular reconnects help keep you top of mind.
By definition, top-of-mind awareness is the first brand that comes to mind when asked about the category — AVRs can help your company be that brand.