More business, less hassle, quick wins and easy options

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So how was it for you? Did you get that iPad Air you wanted, or was it a stripy pullover again? Or socks? Never mind. There’s always next year, when tablets will be faster, cheaper and sexier. In the meantime, grab another mince pie and let’s look at five ways to ease yourself into the brave new world of 2014.

1. Work your network

Cross-selling to existing clients is always easier than finding new ones. Why? Well, you already know a lot about them. And they already trust you. So go for it, but don’t make your pitch obvious and opportunistic; instead, make them feel as if they’re getting something special because they’re valued clients (they are, aren’t they?). So give them something that’s really special – something that new clients don’t get. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re getting a special offer and then discovering (a) it’s not special or (b) new clients are actually getting a better deal. That’s what happened at my gym – now my ex-gym.

2. Keep it simple

Do you really need such a complex pricing structure? Do your terms and conditions need to sound so legalistic? (Yes, I know they are legal, but you can still soften them up a little. If you don’t, you risk putting people off before they’ve even dealt with you.) Could you simplify your sales pitch? Can that PowerPoint presentation be shortened? (I can tell you the answer to that without even seeing it: yes.) Can you have fewer bullet points on each slide? (Ditto.) Simplifying your life and your clients’ lives goes hand in hand. Simple beats complex. Short beats long. Conversational beats formal.

3. Stay in touch

People deal with people they like. And know. And who turn up often. Think back to Christmas (if you can, through the fog of holiday over-indulgence). Who are the people who always send cards, and include a handwritten paragraph or two? The ones that remember your birthday and other important dates? Special friends are like special businesses: they’re the ones you feel most positive about. And a big part of that is simply staying in touch. So send that email, make that call, build that community. If you don’t, somebody else will.

4. Take another look

If, like me, you’re a bit of a Twitter sceptic, maybe this should be the year you question your preconceptions. I recently spoke to somebody who gets all of their new business through their Twitter network. And another client who’s really making Facebook work for their company (yes, I’m an FB sceptic too). So what else could work? Text-message marketing? Crowd-sourced product lines? Black Friday deals? Harlem Shake? (OK, maybe that’s a shimmy too far.) But you see where I’m coming from here. There are lots of things we ‘know’ until we realise we don’t. Stuff we’re convinced doesn’t work – until it does. Language that we think is inappropriately uncorporate, and then it wins the client. Ideas we think are just too wacky, but then deliver the goods. So how about dropping your guard, turning off your critical radar and going for it? If you do, I will too. (See you on Twitter.)

5. Just do it

Yes, the days are short, the holidays are (almost) over, the blood-alcohol level is dangerously high, the presents are already on eBay, and the credit card statements are looming. It’s not really the time to launch a marketing campaign, is it? Or an email blast? To start a blog or newsletter, or crank up that special? Won’t it wait? Can’t it? Yes, it can, but there’s no time like the present. One of the best tips I learned in 2013 was in Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. And here it is: don’t wait until inspiration strikes, or until you’re in the mood. Instead, just go ahead and make a start. You’ll soon be in the mood, and inspiration is a lot more likely to strike when you’re in position at your desk. Going through the motions almost always flips over into the real thing, so stick with it. (Yes, you’re right – it’s the old fake it till you make it idea.) And if you need an extra reason, here’s one: if everybody else is suffering from January blues and procrastinating, what better time to get in and get noticed? Less competition means a higher hit rate. So write it, design it, send it, follow up on it, launch it. Just do it. And have a great 2014.