While being in business is all about generating revenue, in my nearly two decades working in PR, and more than 10 years in management, I’ve learned a few things about making a profit. One of my primary takeaways: not all dollars hold the same value.
I’m not, of course, speaking in a literal sense. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. But the value each dollar holds can vary, and not all dollars are worth the price you may need to pay to collect. A big budget client that taxes the team, or is hosting an event that conflicts with an existing commitment, for example, may not be worth the price of admission. A lower paying client with a mission-driven message, or perhaps one that gets your business experience or entrée into a new sector, however, could be well worth considering the lower fees – and perhaps even make you money in the long run.
Here are a few things to consider when seeking the “right fit” in terms of client business:
When prospecting for new business, ask yourself: is this a job my company can do well? With my skills, can I add value to the potential client partner, and help them meet (or even exceed) their business goals? Do you already have a deep well of experience to draw from, and contacts in your proverbial Rolodex that will help move the dial for the potential client without much ramp-up? If so, consider this green light number one.
Though it’s not always easy to hold the mirror up to oneself, when you are evaluating a client partner and project, consider if it’s not only something you want to take on – but something you can feasibly handle. Does your team have the availability to take on what is being asked? Can you manage the project scope of work with the existing commitments on your plate, and can you succeed in doing so? Timing is everything, and if the time is right – and you’ve got the bandwidth to take on the task with vim and vigor – you’re moving in the right direction.
Considering that such a large portion of work correspondence takes place over email, phone – even text message – evaluate the communications style of your prospective client. Is the tone respectful, kind? Are the expectations involving your response time realistic? Are you receiving notifications from this prospect on weekends, or late into the night, or primarily during the standard work-day? When someone shows you their communications style, believe them – and if round-the-clock responsiveness is an expectation, no matter the budget – you may want to tread lightly. Working 24-7 on anything is not likely to produce good results, and certainly won’t help your profit margins.
Call it pie-in-the-sky, but this one is a biggie: Look for alignment. When you’re around the table with the clients, is the energy good? When they’re speaking about their mission, does it drive you to action? Do you know not only that you CAN help, but WANT to help? If so, keep moving in this direction. Doing work that makes you proud will always bring success and lead you and your team to more abundant opportunities ahead.
Having a great partnership with clients, and alignment overall, will always feel more successful than a big-ticket client that doesn’t meet your company’s needs or share your values. Here’s to happiness – and abundance – in business.
Kate Wark is executive vice president at Impact PR & Communications (prwithimpact.com), a public relations firm based in the Hudson Valley serving clients in the tri-state area and beyond. Wark can be reached at 845-462-4979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.