As a small business owner you may be busting your chops day and night to win new business. True, you may feel like you’ve exhausted your resources and may have even thought, “There’s just no one left!” But I bet you haven’t thought of your competition’s clientele.
I promise, it’s not a jerk move — if you do it correctly. In fact, I can assure you that your competitors have, are, or will be doing the very same thing. So you will need to revitalize your game if you want to complete a thorough competitive analysis that can help you assess the playing field. Here’s a look at five simple ways to get started:
Ensure potential clients know you exist. I’d recommend making casual introductions gradually, using social media platforms like Twitter to make your presence known. Then as you get more comfortable, tweet at them or comment on a blog post on the company website. Eventually, you will feel confident enough to express an interest in a business relationship. Even if you fully know they are working with your competitor make this step. When you are informed they are under contract, tell them that you understand. You do not need to take it any further than that, for now.
Make sure all of your company’s work is in a place where potential clients can see it. This can be accomplished with a slick online portfolio to start. Then share your relevant work across social media profiles. Make sure you are doing this indirectly and not sending any direct messages, simply share. There are times when prospective customers will not even know that it is your work, but they will likely remember when you look to win their business in the future.
Continue the Conversation
Keep up with contacts even after they have let you know they are not in the market for a new business relationship. If you are truly interested in their business, you should invest some of your own money in their product or services. You may even want to sign up for their email newsletter, and you want to compliment them when they do good work (e.g., consider acknowledging their work on Twitter). Continuing the conversation should not be a sales pitch in anyway. You do not want contacts to feel like they are being sold when you talk to them.
Learn About Current Contracts
Find out when current contracts expire. Once you learn this date, or at least have an idea of when the contract is up write it down. As the weeks and months get closer to a contract end date, reconnect and share an exclusive offer. Most importantly, make sure the message gets in front of the company decision maker.
Make the Pitch
Now you’re ready for round two of contacting your future client. Let him or her know that you are aware their current contract is coming to a close, and that you would like to earn their business. By this point, you have had a few months to get to know them well, so now’s the time to show them how you can meet their needs.
Anytime you feel nervous during this process, remember you’re not a jerk, you’re an entrepreneur and competition is a part of the business landscape.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Super nerd turned digital marketer, P.J. Howland is passionate about cutting-edge digital marketing tactics. Within his menagerie of skills; SEO, content marketing and digital analytics stand out. PJ currently lives in Salt Lake City with his beautiful wife, working at a digital marketing agency. Connect with @askPJHowland on Twitter.