Yayyy! It’s officially summer! And it’s one of the busiest times of the year for event professionals. How do you keep up with all of your client demands and find time to market your business to new customers? I know I have personally committed this “business sin” during my busy seasons – lamenting there is not enough time in the day. Client’s needs often come first as I was racing home last night to answer a 7pm conference call. How easy it is to put your ongoing need to market and promote your business on the back burner!! Yet if you carve out 5-10% of your time on marketing – even during your busiest seasons – you can create an ongoing pipeline of marketing and business development activities that will have long term payoffs. The trick is figuring out how to schedule time and set up systems. You’ll spend less time on the busy work and more on the daily operations and long term growth potential for your business. So I’ve come up with a few tips to help you get started. They are a work in progress so don’t hesitate to share ideas for how each of these can be improved for the event professional community.
#1 – What are your monthly and quarterly sales goals? Ideally you sit down before your busy season and outline your annual and quarterly goals with your team or advisory board. But since I’m convinced that most of us neglect this task when we have time, I’ll share an idea for how to do it…in the midst of the chaos. Schedule a 2 hour appointment with your team to outline the marketing and sales goals for your company for the next 90 days. Limit your list to only 3-5 areas to focus on because you know that you are in the midst of your busy season and will have limited time to work on everything. Here are some sample marketing goals you can include
- New client meetings – 1-2 client presentations every two weeks
- Face to face networking – One networking event every week
By setting limits in advance, you’ll make it easier to prioritize your time when requests come in. As well, you’ll ensure you are not neglecting this area – even when things get too busy
#2 – Commit to maintain quality communication on your social media platforms I’ve watched many people get “gungho” about posting on Facebook or Twitter during their quiet times and neglect their accounts during their busy season. What’s the message you are sending? Especially if a new client logs onto your blog or social media platforms and sees you haven’t been active in months. Set a small goal to spend TEN MINUTES a day updating your accounts. Use scheduling software like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to help you schedule things. Post one new status message or photo from an event that you attended. This way your message stays fresh and you remain relevant in your community’s mind.
#3 – Adopt a reward system One of the reasons most of us don’t spend time on the “business of our business” is due to the tasks we dislike or are uncomfortable with. For example, I enjoy meeting new clients and hosting presentations yet have a total distaste for follow-up calls and generating proposals. But it all needs to get done! So I learned to set up a reward system for when a task that I dislike is completed. It helps me to avoid procrastinating and ensures that I am maintaining solid follow-up in ALL areas. It’s amazing how motivated I am when I know there is a scheduled massage waiting for me after I finish the final version of a client proposal. Or a time out to read a new book after I’ve made ten follow-up calls. So be honest about what you dislike and choose rewards that will motivate YOU and get the creative juices flowing.
#4 – What can you outsource? One of the best business investments I have made is securing the services of virtual assistants and other freelancers to help out with projects. Rather than spinning my wheels with the details of my business, I have learned how to create systems (where possible) and leave detailed instructions for how I want things done. While there is an initial cost (of money and time), I am able to generate more in the long run because I can focus on the activities that generate larger sales in my business. For example, I have my VA schedule meetings on my calendar with reminders and get her assistance with gathering data for final reports. Let me tell you how much time that saves in email when I can forward the email to her and she produces a calendar invite in a few minutes. Sure, I could hunt and peck around to schedule it myself – but I’d rather be focusing on future projects that generate $75 or $100 an hour.
The key to working with anyone in a support role is to be clear and communicate in explicit detail how the task needs to be done. I hope these tips have been helpful for thinking about how you can manage your business development activities during your busy season. Send us any others that have worked well for you!