Macala Wright , Interactive Marketing Strategist & Social Influencer
5 Things You Must Do:
1. Have A Reputable Website: There’s a growing trend that I’ve been seeing among fashion business professionals. Agencies, retail consultants and individual company figure heads are abandoning the traditional professional calling card that is the foundation of every business: their website.
Retail, Apparel and Fashion business service providers are abandoning their websites for Posterous, Tumblr and free Blogger or WordPress powered sites. Does living in a real-time, social media, web 2.0 world give professionals the right to abandon or create alternative solutions to the portal that once explained who they are, what they do and what work they’ve done? The answer is, “NO.” If you want to be taken seriously, you have to have a professional web presence — PERIOD. Uses your social properties to show your subject matter expertise, but always have a professional site.
2. Manage Client Expectations: Whether you are a consultancy of one or a firm of 40, your clients are the life’s blood of your business; you need them in order to thrive. This year, the biggest lesson I learned about those who put the roof over my head is to manage their expectations. I am a doer and always strive to go above and beyond the call of duty for my clients. While this is good, it can also set false — unrealistic — expectations of just what we can do and the time in which we can do them in. The first thing you should do when you acquire a new client or project is to create a plan of action regarding what exactly can reasonably be achieved in a given amount of time.
3. Set Boundaries: This ties into managing client expectations. No matter what, you’ve got to keep scheduled hours. If you get into the habit of answering your emails at 2AM and on the weekends, your clients are going to expect you to do this. It’s not such a great thing when you need a weekend of R&R.
4.Toot Your Own Horn: When you do something well and it’s successful, you have to talk about it. It’s hard to talk about ourselves, but we have to. It not only showcases our abilities for future clients and perspective partners, it also shows how our business grows and develops. By tastefully tooting your own horn, you bring in new business and open new doors for yourself.
5. A Litte PR Is Good For Everyone: As we must toot our horn, it’s always good to have the spotlight shined on us once in awhile. At least once every 4-8 weeks, I speak on a panel, lend an expert opinion or I guest blog for another website. This not only shows my expertise in fashion and retail, it also establishes credibility to my clients, allowing them to treat me as a business adviser, not just a marketer. This perception is crucial for building long-lasting, fruitful relationships with clients and partners.
3 Things You Don’t Have To Do:
1. Deal With Abusive Clients: I am going to be the first person to tell you that you don’t have to accept abuse from your clients. If you have a client who is verbally abusive to you or your staff or makes demands and doesn’t expect to pay for the time required to make those demands happen, nip that problem in the bud quickly. If the problem persists, you may have to divorce the client.
2. Chase New Business: I’ve made a policy this year that when it comes to new business proposals; after an initial phonecall or in person meeting, I provide a proposal for the requested services. In my proposals, I will not lay out any of my ideas (they are my intellectual property and that’s what you’re paying me for). If a client can’t make up their mind as to the proposal I’ve provided, I have them put me on retainer in order to continue assessing their needs. I believe that professionals spend too much time chasing new business. Keep this process streamlined.
3. Publish Your Client List: Publishing your current client list is like telling all your direct and indirect competitors to go solicit your clients. You don’t have to do it, that’s what case studies are for!