Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Phone is not Ringing-- What is the problem?

  I was with a client last week and both he and his partner said that the company phone was not ringing.  I had them give me their office number, and with my Blackberry, I dialed the number while sitting in their office.  Guess what, the phone rang just fine.  In fact, we found out that the phone worked whenever the number was dialed.  What the client and his partner figured out was that the phone was not broken, however, their marketing and public awareness needed some additional attention.
    My next question is how do they let potential clients know that they are in business?  Sheepishly, they said that they did not.  They just expected the phone to ring because they did good work!
    Now, there is nothing wrong with that logic, however, as both the client and his partner observed, it did not work.  If you want people to find you, you have to tell them where you are, what you do and how they can contact you.
    The current economic malaise that we are in has caused many business owners to question the value of increased expenditures for advertising and marketing.  This is probably the time when a business owner needs to INCREASE his/her expenditures for marketing.  Now, you might argue that this seems counter intutitive--i.e., makes no sense to spend money on advertising when in a down economic market when sales are slow.
     The logic for these increased expenditures is as follows:  A business needs to continue to advertise/market to let clients know that the business is still in operation in both good and slow economic times.  When in slow economic times, it makes good sense to advertise/market so that your clients know what your capabilities are and that you are able to fulfill customer needs.
     Now, the cost for marketing/advertising is expensive.  However, there are ways in which you can help reduce some expenses.  A business's chamber of commerce membership provides lots of networking opportunities-- After Hours, Rise and Shine Breakfast, Special Seminars are all tools which to meet other business people.  Your business paid for the Chamber membership, you need to use it.
     I remember an old friend of mine that was a career chamber executive often say that the Chamber provides many opportunities for the members, however, it is up to the member to avail themselves of the opportunities.  Participating in the many committees of the Chamber builds your brand awareness as well as allowing you to meet other business people in your community.  This is a good thing!
     If business is somewhat slow, look at participating in some community activities-- the school, Boy/Girl Scouts, Youth sports, Little League baseball,  Rotary, Habitat for Humanity are just some examples of community activities that can always use help.  The community activity gets the help, and your firm gets the publicity for helping.
     This may sound somewhat simple and the question you may ask is "Why does he say spend money when we don't have much?"  Recognizing that resources are tight in any market, and even more so when sales are down, if you wish to continue in business, you must continue to let clients know that your firm is still up and operational.
      The old fashioned way of knocking on doors is hard work and somewhat frustrating-- however, if there is no work in the shop, it is far better to "mine the contacts" and see what might be available instead of waiting for the phone to ring.  After all, you can transfer the office phone to the mobile phone, and begin the trek of knocking on doors.  Of course, some strategic planning needs to go into which doors to knock!  You can just start down the street and begin knocking, you may get a job that you did not anticipate.
       I was in an office building to see an accountant several weeks ago.  After I visited with the accountant, I did go "knock on doors" of the other businesses in the building.  I knocked on the door of a social services agency, talked with the executive director and told her what I did and how I did it.  Interestingly, she did not need operations management consulting, however, she had another task that she did need help with.  I told her that our firm could help her with the other task.  We agreed upon the requirements of the task and the number of deliverables.  When I got back to the office, our team jumped in and instead of 3 deliverables, we designed 6 different deliverables.  The bottom line was that the executive director was elated with the work we produced and we were happy to help design some ideas for her agency.
     What are you doing to generate phone calls?  Are you knocking on doors?  What about social media?  Do you have a Facebook or Twitter site?  Are you participating in various community events?  Are you participating with the Chamber?  If not, these are ideas that may help you generate the phone ringing!


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