If you really want to be successful in developing your business, here - in strict order - are the five smart things Mac MacKay says you should do
We've discussed a lot about listening to customers in all sectors of business - it's just as important in retail, too.
Don't stop doing this until you automatically get the overwhelming majority of their new business without even having to propose on it. Yes, existing customers do represent the best source of new business, but to deserve theirs, you have to earn it by being willing to invest sufficiently in the relationship. Don't invest anything at all in winning new customers until you're sure you've captured all the best opportunities in your existing client base! Those who have already retained your prior attention. That's professionalism.
Review what has been said about building customer loyalty elsewhere.
If by chance you do win the business of someone you don't feel enthusiastic about, you will only have to spend your days serving someone whose business doesn't interest you. Is that what you really want? Remember that the results of your marketing will determine whatever fulfilment your career will offer - which customers you'll get to work with, what professional challenges you'll be exposed to, how much fun you'll have in your work, and so on.
Don't aim your marketing only at low-hanging fruit - dream a little. List who your dream customers are, and them set a plan in motion to win them. If you aren't convinced yet, ask yourself what percentage of your customers you really like, and what percentage of your work you find intellectually stimulating. Are you satisfied with those percentages?
Don't give small amounts of uncustomised attention to a lot of prospects through mailing lists, brochures, newsletters, and the like: That's equivalent to standing on street corners saying 'Hire me, I'm good!' You're more professional than that. Prove your interest and your worth by giving your prospects something useful: an article, a speech, a piece of research, an idea, or a seminar. Prospective customers don't want unprofessional puffery. They want you to give them the evidence on which to base a sensible decision.
What about all the other marketing tactics, such as brochures, newsletters, publicity, advertising? Haven't they been ignored? Yes, I certainly have, and so should you. You might want to spend some time and money in this area, but it is fatal to think that they are your primary marketing weapons. Of course, it can't hurt to be quoted in the newspaper, and, yes, your client might want your brochure to show that due diligence was done. But this is backup. All real marketing (and all real professionalism) lies in steps one through five above.
The good news is that professionalism and marketing are not in conflict with each other at all: They are the same thing. Both are defined by a dedication to being of service and helping people. As Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People: "You'll have more fun and success when you stop trying to get what you want, and start helping other people get what they want."
For more information on this subject, see the Resources box on the right.