Usually—this first week after Labor Day in the U.S.—I write about the 100-day sprint that starts now and runs through the holidays.
It’s that typically hyper-productive time when clients are back from summer vacation, with kids off to school and they’re raring to kick-start or resurrect projects that went dormant.
But in this COVID year, many (if not most) B2B clients are in a different place. More uncertainty, more doubt and frankly, more fear, make it harder for them to pull the trigger on certain kinds of projects.
So what do you do instead if it feels like your specialty just isn’t on their front burner right now? If your sprint starts feeling more like a marathon, try one—or more—of these three alternatives:
Test your assumptions. Just because you had that experience with a client or two doesn’t make it universal. Sure it might have been a jolt to the ego, but don’t let that stop you from moving on to the rest of your list.
It might just be the perfect time to try the magic email. I’ve used this countess times when people go dormant and it works. Projects start, people re-engage or—worst case—you have the satisfaction of closure and clearing the decks for those who actually need you.
One client did this recently and brought in well over $100,000 from a client who’d gone dark. Not bad for a five minute investment.
Find a smaller engagement to do instead. We tend to forget that clients have to invest not just their money, but also their time to work with us to get that ultimate transformation we promise.
So if you’re getting lots of pushback, try going smaller, but in a highly strategic way. Maybe you do an assessment or readiness audit instead of a full-on engagement. Or you cherry pick the pieces they value most and carve those out of your usual work (but only if you can still deliver on your transformation promise).
One Fortune 500 company cut back their marketing budget in the extreme as a reaction to COVID. But they also decided to make a strategic investment and boosted their budget in one category.
A savvy agency asked the right questions and was able to position themselves to win a new piece of that pie.
Invest in expanding your audience. Let’s say you’re not seeing the recovery signs fast enough and aren’t willing (or able) to wait it out. Could be that it’s time to start selling your transformations to more people.
That could look like selling a smaller thing to a larger audience—where you teach them to do for themselves what you did for your clients.
All of a sudden, you can sell to a much larger universe (while, ahem, also leveraging your time). You become a viable option—maybe even a supremely attractive one—to ideal clients who couldn’t afford you one-to-one.
Of course this requires you to market and sell differently—to build an expanded audience base and use digital and social media effectively.
But if that move makes strategic sense for you—now or later—why not start building that audience right now?
Because here’s the point: the fear, uncertainty and doubt that plague some folks in your audience doesn’t have to seep into how you handle your business.
Think strategically, move thoughtfully and you’ll be back to sprinting sooner than you think.
Related: When You Need (Or Want) To Pivot