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Why Ad Hoc Marketing Does Not Work

Have you ever heard me say that ad hoc marketing does not work? I’ve been telling coaches and consultants this for many years now. Every week I remind my clients and audiences that just doing a bit of marketing now and then, without being consistent or following up on your marketing activity, is just a waste of time.

My client Ben is a brilliant example of why ad hoc marketing does not work, and why following up is so important. Ben is a physiotherapist who I first met a couple of years ago, when I needed someone to help me to fix my back. He’s a very well trained physio who is constantly learning and looking for new or better ways of helping his clients. He’s also interested in developing his business, so we would often talk about marketing, in between the exercises he was giving me. One day last year he finally asked me to help him with his marketing on a more ‘official’ basis.

We spent some time together, looking at what makes Ben different to all the other physios in the area, who his ideal clients are and identifying the best marketing activities that will help him to grow his practice. We worked through my grid of four different strategies and I showed Ben that one of the simplest ways to get more appointments booked would be to talk to his existing and past clients. Many of them would come to Ben for a couple of sessions, to ‘fix’ whatever problem they had and then they would go away and get on with their lives. But many of Ben’s clients are very active people. They ride horses (and sometimes fall off them); they go skiing (and sometimes fall over); they go running and swimming and play golf. This means that they are often likely to encounter more problems – a bad back getting worse again, a niggle becoming a bigger issue, an accident leaving them in pain.

Selling Existing Services to Existing Clients

It makes sense for Ben to keep in touch with his clients and to be more proactive – calling them, instead of waiting for them to call him. If you’ve ever injured yourself, you’ll know that it’s generally better to get the issue looked at and fixed, than to allow it to get worse, leaving you in more pain, or with permanent damage. Ben and I spoke on one of our regular, monthly Mentoring calls, just before Christmas. He told me that over the last month he had made nearly 100 phone calls to clients who he hadn’t seen for a while. He had asked them how they were – often enquiring about the specific issue for which he had last treated them – and finding out if they wanted to book another session with him. From all of those calls, he had 17 people with whom he needed to follow up in January! Many of them had asked him to call again in the New Year, once Christmas was out of the way.

If Ben hadn’t made those follow up calls in the first place, and then followed up with the 17, he would have missed out on those extra 17 appointments (most of which would have become at least 2-3 appointments for each client.) If Ben had hidden behind emails, he would not have had such a good response either. Phone call follow up takes longer than sending an email, but when you provide a service which relies on a personal relationship – such as coaching, consulting or physiotherapy – a phone call is a much better way to build up that relationship. It allows a lapsed client to say “Well, my back is fine, but I hurt my knee while playing football, so perhaps you could take a look before it gets worse?”

New Services Not Required

Many business owners I meet are convinced that they need to create new services, or spend money looking for new clients. This is rarely the case – until you have exhausted all your options for Strategy One (selling more of your existing services to your existing clients.) You might think that a client will only buy one coaching session from you each month, or one treatment session. But what if you ask them if they would like two sessions a month, to help them to reach their goal more quickly? What could happen if you call them after a couple of months of not hearing from them, to see if they would like you to deliver another workshop to their latest group of graduate trainees or new staff? Look at each of your clients individually and you should be able to see what else you could offer them. And if you’re really stuck, just call them for a chat, to see how they are doing and how business is going.

Only once you’ve done all you can to sell more of your existing services to your existing clients (Strategy One) should you worry about moving on. The best strategy to go for next is to ask your existing clients to whom they can recommend you. When making his follow up calls, if a client told Ben “No, I’m fine right now, thank you,” he could still ask who else they knew who might need his help. My current favourite question to help with this is “Knowing what you know about me now, who else do you know who needs my help?” It’s a really simple way to ask for a referral!

Rather than rushing into spending time, money and effort looking for new clients or developing new services, focus first on your follow up. Call (don’t email!) all your clients you’ve not spoken to for a while, to find out how else you can help them. Following up on a regular basis and keeping in touch in a proactive way is what will keep your clients coming back for more. If you’re a bit nervous about picking up the phone and you need some quick ideas on what to say to your clients, get in touch and I can give you some pointers, to get you started. Pick up the phone and call me on 07773 252 744 – don’t be nervous!

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