Pay the Piper and Fill Your Pipeline

Last week, as I was on my morning walk, I encountered a runner (I hate running and deeply admire those who do it regularly.)

We exchanged nods.  I asked “How are you today?”.  He responded, “I’ll be better when I’m done running!”

How the truth of that rang out!  As I said, I hate running.  And it sounds like he doesn’t really enjoy the act of running but rather the benefits of running once he’s done. (I haven’t gotten past that first hurdle.)

I speak at a number of professional networking and association meetings about sales and marketing strategies and tactics.  In my conversations with these professionals, I have come to realize that many business owners and sales people hate the act of the marketing and sales aspects of growing their business. But then they expect (or hope for) the benefits of the sales and marketing activities that they aren’t actually doing.

So what do I mean by ‘paying the piper’?

Now is the time to be laying the foundation for the economic recovery that will occur, hopefully sooner than later.  This is the time to create visibility, build credibility with your target markets, position yourself as an expert and deepen the connection between your company and your prospects and clients.

Marketing, like running, may not be a lot of fun (hence the sense of ‘paying’).  Many people tell me they hate picking up the phone and calling people about their products and services about as much as I hate running.  But direct outreach is one of the most effective ways to connect, build relationships and ultimately make sales.

Here are some specific things you can do that won’t cost a lot of money but will create a solid foundation for the future and might even create sales in the short term. They may require you to stretch a bit, but who doesn’t benefit from learning and growing?

1. Write articles – Writing articles about your area of expertise is a great and often free way to get visibility while generating credibility for yourself.  Association newsletters and online article directories are always looking for content for their publications.

2.  Give referrals – When you send business to a colleague, it creates a ‘credit’ in your mental relationship account that your colleague (if they’re a good human being), will feel compelled to balance out with a referral back to you.

3.  Start a networking group – Many business professionals are looking for new low-cost ways to market their businesses just like you are.  When you start your own networking group, you have the advantage of inviting people you really want to network with. You become known as a great person to know because you will appear really well connected.

4.  Update your product and service offerings – Make sure that what you’re offering is relevant to the challenges people and businesses are facing these days.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just tweak your current offers to address the problems people are dealing with today that weren’t issues 18 months ago.  You’ll seem timely and relevant and your prospects will be more hungry for what you have to offer.

5.  Seek out big opportunities – Don’t abandon entirely the lines of work that keep your lights and utilities on and your employees paid, but strive to position yourself do to more business with Big Business.  Be strategic about the firms you seek out.  Read The Whale Hunters by Tom Searcy and barbara Weaver Smith for specific ideas on how to land bigger deals and transform your company in the process.

Paying the Piper speaks to the ‘dues’ you have to pay to grow your business.  The good news though is that while you may have to be more creative and put out more effort in the process, the Piper who will ultimately benefit is you!

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