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Sometimes we need a little reminder on the basics of proposal writing.

1. Always dissect the proposal into an easy to comprehend outline and be considerate of what the client is asking to be presented.

2. Be vocal – We all know that relationships win business, but sometimes there’s an RFP out on the streets from an unknown person/organization/community/etc., that’s a perfect fit for your firm’s qualifications. Don’t let not knowing anyone on the selection committee preclude you from going after the job, but do make a courtesy phone call and try to schedule a meeting to learn more about the project and the client’s needs. Make your presence known before your proposal lands on their desk and your chances of making the shortlist will escalate.

3. Coordinate the staff that will work on the proposal. Give them an outline early on with detailed writing assignments and due dates. Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up.

image credit: flickr user Q is for Quilter

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salonI’m a salon hopper. It’s not that I’m not happy with the umpteen places I’ve been too, but none of the salons I’ve visited have ever encouraged me to come back. So the next time I need my hair done I find another salon (I live in an area with hundreds of them) with a new customer discount, book an appointment, get my hair done and repeat the process in another 4-5 months.

What should these salons be doing? At the very least they should be encouraging me to book my next appointment on my way out. And if they haven’t done that, well then hopefully they’ve taken the time to collect some minimal contact information from me so that they can keep in touch while I’m between cuts.

It’s a story that’s all to common, and not just with salons. We’re often so busy trying to win new clients and servicing the ones that are in front of us that we loose sight of the previous clients whom we’ve finished servicing.

Keeping in-touch with past clients should be one of our biggest priorities. Everyone knows the saying it’s harder/more expensive to gain a client than it is to retain an existing one. Yet more often than not we’re so focused on winning the next job that we forget to reach out to established clients that may have another project waiting for us in the wings.

There are a number of simple things we can do – send them the firm’s newsletter, connect with clients on social networks you both participate in, add them to the holiday card list, send out a post-services survey. But more important than those tactics and more personal, keep a list of the important clients – the ones that you want repeat business from – and pick up the phone once a quarter. Give them a call to see how their new office building/home/whatever it is you did for them is working out. Share some news that might be applicable to them, ask to take them out to lunch, anything in order to have a quality conversation. With minimal effort your firm is back in the consideration set next time they’re looking for a designer. And all it cost you was a little bit of your time, and maybe lunch.

I realize I’m not conveying anything new here, but based on a few conversations of late I felt it was a good time for a reminder. So if you’re not already doing it, stop, make a list of past clients and pick up the phone. You’ll be amazed with the results.

Image credit: Flickr user stpiducko

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