Go Big! That was our mindset from the beginning. We had some great success as a startup. Some of our first clients were national firms with international exposure. We were working with Black Enterprise Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Buick, Pepsi, and the American Cancer Society to name a few. We were a mobile marketing company on the rise. Our company, Victory Mobile, started in 2009 with a strong buzz and momentum, and we looked to leverage this early success and shoot for the stars.
What Went Wrong
After you get one big client, you automatically begin to think, “This is easy.” Our sales pitch started out with the big names. “We’ve worked with this company and that company and you know, this other company.” It sounded great at the time, but for some reason it wasn’t working. Although our big contracts did come around once per year for services, we hit a wall. We were unable to get more clients and at the time, did not understand why.
So what really happened? Here’s what I’ve deduced. We didn’t pinpoint how we obtained our earlier clients. The initial success felt good, but our analysis after the fact was lacking. If we had taken a closer look, we would have noticed how our relationship with the firms mattered more than a proposal or cold call.
We were aiming for the stars when our focus should have been elsewhere. We were a small company with high hopes and a taste of success. But we were based in Detroit and had no Detroit-based clients. We were a small company looking for big clients that we couldn’t handle at the time. This stubbornness cost us months of disappointing sales. After banging our heads on the wall trying this sales technique and this marketing tool, we decided to change our focus and diversify.
So here’s what we’ve learned:
1. Be willing to change your focus and diversify if you hit a wall
We decided to change our focus from national firms to local companies. This allowed us to see our customers face-to-face, build stronger relationships with our clients, and more directly market to potential customers on a daily basis.
We also diversified our product base in response to our client’s needs. We went from a “Mobile Marketing Company” to a “Branding, Digital Marketing, and Communications Firm.” Working with our clients more directly, we discovered all of their true needs and were able to meet their demands.
2. Know how to get your customers
Our customers were always satisfied with the service we provided, but we found out it was the relationships we built over the years, not necessarily the services. The idea: know why your customers choose you and stay with you.
3. Referrals are the way to go. (In our industry)
We’re in the services industry and for all the marketing that we do, our best acquisition strategy has never compared to a happy client telling their friends and fellow business owners about our great work. Almost all of our business is referral based now and we don’t mind. The business is consistent and we love it. My suggestion: Do great work and ask for the referral. Keep it simple and see your business grow.