4 Ways to Generate Business for Next Year
Autumn is my favorite season of the year. It’s not just the high drama of the fiery foliage, leaves crunching underfoot, the wind whistling through the trees, acorns thumping down on the pavement below (while I do love all of this). It’s also a time of great reflection and preparation for the coming winter months. Like any other mammal, I’m readying for the cold season–fretting here and there getting my cave ready for a sort of professional hibernation.
When it comes to business, this certainly means generating leads to last me through the colder months. I do some of my best prospecting in the fall. Because the season is ripe for events of all kinds, I find myself on the circuit more than normal, so it’s a great time to network. This greater movement coupled with the biological need to prepare for a physical and seasonal slow-down, I’m motivated to get out there and get some business to last me at least until the next thaw.
This September, after a busy summer of working with one of my main clients on our big annual project, I got to work reaching out to prospects who I thought might be a good fit for my services and followed up on a number of leads. I received an overwhelming number of positive responses. One response that stood out to me most was from a national cultural organization that I was *dying* to work with. The contact told me that my timing was “excellent” because the organization is gearing up for it’s ten year anniversary next fall. So they will definitely start the process of working with a public relations consultancy much like mine very very soon.
I think fall is a busy time for most of us because of the back to school season, gala season, etc. And the holiday season is busy in its own way. But the very end of the year and the very beginning of the new year can be rough for some PR pros, especially independents, who are between contracts. My advice? Look forward, towards “the thaw”.
Think Spring. For your existing clients, already start thinking and talking about great campaigns for spring. Especially if your contract is up at the end of the calendar year, let your current clients know that you see yourself on their team past the winter months. Don’t give away all of your great spring ideas, of course, but let them know that you enjoy working with them and look forward to continuing the relationship and are hoping to renew a contract at the beginning of the year.
Prospect 2-3 Years Out. To do this, you can study calendars and conference schedules. If you’re looking to build a relationship with a new, dream client, keep your eyes peeled for large conferences that may be coming to your city. You may be able to help an organization facilitate a nice reception for local leaders on the ground. Large conferences are generally booked 1-2 years in advance, sometimes more, so you have time to develop your pitch. If a large event isn’t coming to your city for a year or even two, you have time to get your ideas together, research the proper contacts and even do some targeted in-person networking before you pull the trigger. Obviously, if you want to land a good client for next year, you need to have started yesterday. But there is still time. There are a lot of great conferences happening towards the end of the year. Find out when and where they are and whether or not you can help out on them.
Keep an Ear to the Business Ground. An organization’s launch, anniversary, etc. is obviously a great opportunity to introduce yourself to a public relations prospect; many times the organization or business that’s having the anniversary isn’t in planning mode, so it’s up to the enterprising to capitalize on insider knowledge. So keep your ear to the business streets by knowing what business projects are in the pipeline of your industry. I read the Washington Business Journal’s business leads section for general ideas about what’s going on behind the storefronts-who’s applying for business licenses and liquor licenses, who just registered a business, etc. As long as it’s not another PR firm, there’s a chance they could need PR, right? So just ask yourself the questions that pertain to the kind of PR that you do. What restaurants will be opening in a few months? What art galleries will be hosting the work of a prominent artist in the spring? What organization will be releasing an important study and will need help putting together a press conference? Now is the time to begin the big PR push.
Stay Way Ahead of the Prospect. Whatever your field of interest, always be a few months ahead of the potential client so that you can approach them before they even realize that they need you. When they do realize they need you, they may value you even more for your timing and instincts.