How to Know Which Marketing Channels to Invest in Next Year
As I'm embarking on my second ever "Batch December" and doing some analysis on my business, I'd like to invite you to join in! (And here's the quick video all about that)...
This week and next week, I'll show you two simple exercises that will help you target your marketing and get more clients for 2018, just by studying yourself. Following that, we'll take the rest of the month off to start January fresh.
So here's today's story --
KNOW WHERE YOUR CLIENTS CAME FROM TO UNLOCK KEY MARKETING DIRECTION
Wouldn't it be awesome if your past self could whisper in your ear, "This is what you do need to do to get clients next year?" Well, you can.
All you need to start directing a powerful, well-branded marketing plan for 2018 is your data from 2017!
Two months ago in October, I did a very simple analysis. I took the list of all of my clients from this year and put them in a spreadsheet to start tracking information about them. The biggest thing I tracked: where they came from. Where did each client come from originally? Did I already know them? Did we meet networking - if so where?
The theory is - the more I know about where my clients come from, the more I know which channels are working and which aren't worth as much focus or investment in 2018.
When I did this exercise for myself, I thought of common categories of marketing channels, then tallied up everyone and got as specific as possible. Then I counted how many clients came from each "marketing channel". I also took the step to look at value of project - as a channel may not have delivered quantity in terms of clients, but could deliver quality in terms of a lot of income per project. I took the data and made simple pie and bar charts using Keynote (you could do something similar in PowerPoint or on Excel, if you're really fancy).
The results were eye-opening!!
Here are some of the insights I gained from my own analysis of 2017's clients:
- Referrals were more important than I'd thought: I'd made the assumption that most of my clients came from events, not referrals, but I was wrong about that. In fact, referrals (personal, professional and from past clients) accounted for around 30% of my client base this year.
- Past clients were more a part of my business than I'd realized: Similar to the referrals insight, I hadn't realized how many of my past clients had returned for future projects and how much of my yearly revenue came from past GSC clients (15%). Since I typically work clients when they are starting or restarting, I'd assumed that the majority of what I do isn't repeat business. I was wrong and this category added up. And it made me wake up that past clients - in addition to being wonderful - are really important to continue to keep in touch with and support.
- Events were powerful, but they weren't everything in terms of direct clients: Hosting my own branding workshops / events is one of my favorite ways to market my business (I hosted 12 this year between Small Business Best Foot Forward and Branding with Annie). They are powerful, but they aren't the only way I get Greatest Story clients, coming in at 32% -- a dead match for referrals. This said, events are a key way I create brand awareness for my business - so they impact the business far beyond directly bringing in clients.
- As I'd thought, social media wasn't a direct driver: To anyone who thinks you have to get clients online - via social media - I'm here to tell you, it's not true. Social isn't everything. While it can be very powerful for many types of businesses, you can run a very profitable, 6-figure business without getting clients from social. Google drove only 6% of my client business this year. I also didn't much with on my social media this year - so this was expected!
- Speaking at others' events - when it was the right setting - was a great driver: I saw great results from external speaking when it was in front of a crowd that fit my ideal client profile.
And here's a bit about what this analysis has taught me for 2018 marketing:
- Be consistent and stay in good contact with all referral partners: While this is always important, knowing it can account for 1/3 of my business - this is a focus for me next year. I made a point of giving generous Thanksgiving gifts to my biggest referral partners this year already, to get a hard start. It's a goal to stay better connected and continue to support those who refer me - since they are the jam!
- Stay in better contact with past clients: Along these same lines, maintaining contact and relationships with past clients is something to prioritize in 2018.
- Continue to host my own events like "Branding with Annie" and expand them: I'll be continuing to host "Branding with Annie" every month in 2018 and I'm looking at ways to add more "seats" each month since it keeps selling out! I'm also hoping to launch a new workshop for professional women in the first quarter of next year - so stay tuned for that!
- Get more consistent and engaging on social media: For me, social media (specifically Facebook, Linkedin, and Google for me) are somewhat completely untapped awareness and client lead channels. I've just invested in SmarterQueue for next year which should help me streamline that engagement, and be visible on FB and LI. Though I've built my business largely outside of social, it represents future potential!
- Be more strategic with external speaking engagements: As much as I love speaking, I'm vowing to be more strategic with any speaking I do outside my own events. When I'm in the right room, it can be powerful for my business! When I'm not - it can be a large use of time (helpful for awareness) but not as valuable as other things I could be doing with my business.
So here's your challenge: complete your own 2017 client analysis with my FREE template!
This week, I'd like you to do this same challenge that I took on back in October: find out where your clients actually came from to see what you can learn about what worked, what didn't, and what you want to change for the year ahead.
Here are some things that might help - including a FREE CLIENT ANALYSIS TEMPLATE!
Sign-up below to access your Free Client Analysis Template.
(This is a Google Sheets doc. Just save it to your computer to have your own copy. You'll spot some extra categories in the template - feel free to fill them in or wait til next week!)
Here's what you want to track for now per client:
- Client Name
- $ value of project
- Type of project (if you have multiple services - for example, some clients are Writing Only, some are Full Brand and Website)
- Source (Marketing Channel - see below for inspiration)
- Whether or not they were a past client
And here are some examples of marketing channels that can directly bring in clients:
- Direct relationship (someone you already know - out of the blue - contacts you for services)
- Personal Referrals (friends and family passing on your name)
- Professional Referrals (other pro's that share your info)
- Past Clients
- Google / SEO
- Social Media Platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn - break them down if you get more than one from each)
- Speaking at your own events
- Speaking at other people's events
- Paid advertising
- Commenting on posts in Facebook Groups
- PR / Newspaper or Blog Articles
- Guest Posting
Once you have this info - you can break things down by:
- How many clients you got per source (percentage)
- How much money you made per source (percentage)
Use the data you've compiled to make simple percentage pie and bar charts in Keynote or Powerpoint, or ask a nerdy friend to help you make a chart to see it in plain view! Just sort by marketing channel to get started.
When you've done this part, take a look at both breakdowns and see what you can learn about where to focus your time (and where not to!).
If a marketing channel you've poured a ton of time and money into this year ISN'T delivering clients - rethink your support and investment in it. Vice versa, if you see somewhere you're finding surprising success - consider putting more resources into it.
When you're done - reply and send me what you've learned!
Next week - diving deeper into this year's clients post-mortem!
There's one other big thing I did when looking into this year's clients that is totally transforming my plans and focus for 2018 -- I'll share it and walk you through how you can do this too next week.