I spoke with a past colleague of mine recently who is in the process of venturing out and starting a new engineering business on his own . I know he has the skills to undertake this because he has been in the business doing similar work for many years, and the large engineering corporation he last worked for is already sending business to his consultancy.
This friend reached out to me, in part to say hello, and in part to seek my help in things he might do from a marketing perspective to build his new business. When we get the chance to follow up, I'll be asking him things like:
- What goals have you set for the first year?
- Why do those goals matter?
- If you don't reach your goals, what happens?
- Do you know who you are selling to - can you picture them in your mind?
- How will you reach them and/or how will they find you?
The last question is a big one and is at the apex of everything before it: if you don't have goals, how will anything you do really matter, and if you don't know who you are selling to, how can you possibly reach them in the first place?
Is a Brochure Website Good Enough?
We also had a discussion about getting his website up and running which he viewed as the first logical step from a credibility standpoint: put up your shingle. He is irritated that it has taken so long for his developer to finalize his site and badly wants it to be completed so that he has something to point prospects to. This is a common strategy or attitude that entrepreneurs have, but it often ends up setting them back two, or sometimes, even three years. Here's why.
The thought that your company website should be merely a brochure is a hobbling attitude. In the beginning, entrepreneurs will typically promote their new businesses on foot, via their established networks. It's not inconceivable that some new business will materialize through these efforts and even, perhaps a referral or two. The problem comes in when this fragile source naturally dries up or slows down and there are no other business leads to tap. Besides close the doors and cease operation, what can you do?
Keeping Your Sales Pipeline Full
Your sales pipeline is arguably the single most important area of focus in the early days and should be treated as such. Your online efforts to develop new business through the internet will not be effective from day one because it simply takes a considerable amount of time and effort for a new website to become recognized and viewed as a source of thought leadership and trust. Developing a reliable presence on the internet can take between six and twelve months before leads start coming in.
Because of this, it is crucial to focus hard, from day one, on getting your website both functional and mechanized to generate traffic as quickly as possible. Since it takes time and effort to develop traffic and relying on a brochure site will simply not produced the desired result, many businesses struggle one or two years down range after referrals and networking dry up because they had not put in the time early on to develop a website that keeps the top of the sales funnel full.
An online marketing strategy includes a number of key elements that can be expensive to retrofit and in some cases significant portions of a (brand new) site will require a complete overhaul to enable. Start off on the right foot through proper planning and early alignment with a viable plan.