During the first few years in business entrepreneurs are typically in build mode. They are constantly scrambling to find new customers, prospects and events they can attend; anything they can do to bring in some money. But after a few months/years something funny starts to happen – customers start to seek you out. This can lead to an entrepreneur losing their “hustle” mentality, which if left unchecked, can lead to a possible stagnation or decline in new business. The solution? Mining your acres of diamonds.
A while back one of our colleagues recanted the “Acres of Diamonds” story to us. Acres of Diamonds originated as a speech which Russell Conwell is said to have been delivered over 6,000 times around the world. It was first published in 1890 by the John Y. Huber Company of Philadelphia. The central idea of the work is that one need not look elsewhere for opportunity, achievement, or fortune – the resources to achieve all good things are present in one’s own community.
This theme is developed by an introductory anecdote, told to Conwell by an Arab guideabout a man who wanted to find diamonds so badly that he sold his property and went off in futile search for them. The purchaser of his home discovered that a rich diamond mine was located right there on the property. Conwell elaborates on the theme through examples of success, genius, service, or other virtues involving ordinary Americans contemporary to his audience. The overarching advice is “dig in your own backyard!”
If you are a business that has lasted 2-5 years and you are wondering what you can do to continue your growth trajectory, here are some tips on how to dig in your own backyard:
Pay attention to your customers. Often times a company will struggle when they start to take their eyes off what their customer wants. To combat this, make sure that you track what matters to them and engage them on a regular basis. This is as simple as sending out a customer satisfaction survey periodically and having a social media presence on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. By engaging with your customers regularly, you can adjust your services and offerings to address what is important to them. If done correctly, you’ll wind up with a complimentary advertisement system/sales force via the referrals they send you.
Track your marketing. We do tons of marketing efforts each year. One of the questions we often ask a prospective or new client shortly after they contact us is “how did you hear about us?” This gives us some insight into which marketing initiatives are bringing us business and which might need to be adjusted or scrapped. Once you know what is working, increase your spending in that area and you should see your sales escalate over time.
Always look for ways to recapture lost customers. Just because a customer left you for a competitor doesn’t mean that they didn’t like what you had to offer. Sometimes customers leave because of price, convenience or just simply because someone touted an offer that just sounded better than yours. However, some customers find that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but it’s sometimes hard to return to your former provider without feeling embarrassed. Thus, if you send out advertising to your old customers offering them a discount or telling them to give you another chance, they might just do so. Sometimes all it takes is you making them feel welcome for them to come back home.
Remind your customers that you are ALWAYS there for them. People often only think of you when they have a need, especially in service businesses such as ours. If your business is seasonal in nature, your customers might only think of you once a year! Needless to say, that’s not good for your business or your bottom line. One way we tackle this is through a customer touch program. The essence of this program is to send out a series of customer communications that are designed to engage with them. These can range from tweets, to Facebook posts, to blog posts, to monthly newsletters to a simple customer phone call. The goal of each interaction isn’t sales oriented (per se) but more so to remind your customers that you are 1) thinking of them, 2) there to service their needs and 3) remind them of what you offer. Point three is pretty important, especially when you add new services to your menu.