The dreaded quiet period
We’ve all been there. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
I learnt a valuable lesson 18 months ago.
Business was great, I was doing all the right things. Had a nice flow and mix of clients. And, I’d verbally been offered a short-term 8 week contract (on a bloody decent day rate). Things were great. Looking up almost.
We were ready to go, just needed the paperwork.
Confident, this was in the bag, I’d started to slow down activity. Letting clients know I’d be only taking on small jobs.
And in the words of Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts, BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.
You guessed it. I was ghosted. Heard nothing. NADA. Turns out, the poor team had been caught up in Royal Commission stuff and the team was no more.
It also left me wondering -where’s my next dollar coming from?
Not a fun prospect when you’re the main income earner. Lucky, I’m a numbers nerd and had a buffer ready. But – no way did I want to dip into that.
So what did I do.
Had a big old pity party
But only for a minute (well however long it took to share a bottle of wine and lament my stupidity).
Then, I took a hard look at my business
What had I done to contribute to this empty calendar and no cash situation?
It was clear I’d put all my eggs into one basket. Broken the rule – a job is only booked when money hits the bank account or a contract is signed.
Also, forgotten my own advice – you need an alway’s on approach to marketing.
Quiet-Time = self reflection
Living in a constant state of busy doesn’t leave much time for reflection. So I played a game of what could I stop, start or continue?
– what’s working?
– where was my time going?
– what clients did I love working with?
– was I showing up in a way that would help them?
– what was I really trying to acheive?
– who could help if I had conflicting client demands?
Make a plan
The strategy nerd in me came out in full. How was I going to turn this around and how was I going to get some all important cash flow through the door?
Here’s what worked for my business when I was quiet.
First of I made a potential customer list - because it's always easier to connect with people who already know you. Existing clients and people who'd made enquiries but hadn't gone anywhere.
I had to put on a sales hat. First, sent an e-mail to existing clients. Personal & Relevant to our relationship and what I knew about their business. Nothing about sales. If they responded asking, what's up with me, I'd talk about business and how I could help. For prospects, I wrote a simple email checking-in to see if they needed help still because my time was getting booked out. (well, it was about to).
It was time to put myself out there. I was too reliant on Word Of Mouth Referrals and needed to work on having multiple lead sources. 1. Registered myself on free on-line directories and a couple of paid ones. 2. Upped my presence on LinkedIn 3. Put my hand-up for jobs at the Clever CopyWriting School. 4. Indicated to designers and web developers that I was open to partnering.
Diversify lead Sources
With the luxury of time on my side I was able to create a few months worth of content to feed my blog and social media. (I'm usually too busy doing this for my client's).
I didn't go quiet. I got active. Spending time on social channels, engaging in Facebook groups, posting offers on local groups and showing up every day over on LinkedIn (#30dayLinkedInChallenge).
Show up Consistently
Revisited my customer documents, updated templates, edited wording and had fun in Canva. Updated my website.
Work on Customer Experience
And guess what happened?
I started to get bookings. Smaller jobs, led to bigger jobs.
Unpromted contacts from connections who’d noticed me online.
All of a sudden, my pipeline was full again. I now know, that for my business, it takes 6 weeks of solid activity to start seeing consistent results = AKA MONEY.
If I don’t want to be at the mercy of other people’s timings and ability to refer work to me, I need to proactively seek opportunities, be visible and open to partnerships.
Oh, and I should take my own advice I dish out to clients! This business caper is certainly a learning curve.
What has worked for you?
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