Business Development Basics

How to set up a new-business program for your company

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Q: What fundamentals should I know in order to create marketing and new-business-development programs for my small graphic design firm? What tools should I use? I'm starting from ground zero, so any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

A: New-business development involves one-on-one contact with prospects as well as creation of select tools to support your ongoing program. B2B pros follow the contact sequence-call, mail, call-so you'll start by setting up a prospect list. Based on your track record, experience and growth goals, decide which types or categories of companies you think would make great clients, such as hotels, shopping malls and hospitals. Then research your list, compiling prospect names from newspapers, magazines, the Web, directories and association memberships. Your final list should contain at least a dozen names in each category.

The next step is to set up a new-business committee. In a firm with eight people on staff, that group might include two account executives and yourself, each responsible for cold-calling a number of prospects each week and attending networking functions. Keep track of all the call reports and necessary follow-up using contact management software that lets you share access to files and ensures important contacts never fall through the cracks.

You'll also need several good sales letters, a company brochure to mail to prospects you've contacted by phone, and an effective company presentation that can be customized for each new business pitch. Design firms and ad agencies tend to rely on PowerPoint presentations delivered by a new-business team. Format your presentations with a standard company overview, and customize them with appropriate case histories and speculative work. Rehearse your team's new-business pitches in advance, and create a bound leave-behind with the highlights of each presentation.

For best results, support your new-business efforts with a marketing program that includes a print advertising and/or public relations campaign and an effective Web presence. Most important, as your database of prospects grows, you'll need a direct-mail campaign that reaches out to them about once every six weeks. Combine these efforts with your ongoing telephone follow-up for a winning combination.

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