Lars Helgeson launched GreenRope as the "one-stop-shop" for small businesses and consulting firms to manage calendaring, event registration, e-mail marketing, website administration and a contact management system from one platform. He is also the co-founder of CoolerEmail.
Q: What exactly is GreenRope?
A: The service is designed to empower small businesses and strategic consultants with the ability to manage their contact database, marketing communications, calendaring and project management initiatives from one user-friendly platform for much lower cost rather than paying for each service al a carte. GreenRope enables companies to automatically back up their customer lists and leverage them across multiple -- and until now disparate -- channels such as accounts receivable reports, customer surveys, meeting requests and project timesheets, all without having to re-key contact information each time.
For instance, a consulting firm could write, submit, assign, track and bill a contract agreement from one place. We've also designed the platform's centralized management console to provide small businesses and consulting firms with the ability to track the effectiveness of ongoing initiatives at the click of a mouse.
Q: What type of organizations are using GreenRope?
A: We've just launched in the last few weeks, but are already seeing a wide range of clients finding value in our services, including alumni groups, regional scouting organizations and chambers of commerce. Essentially, any organization that is looking to maintain good relationships with its current contacts while still growing their network can find value in our system.
Q: It seems most people understand the value of staying in touch with their network. Why don't they do it?
A: Most practitioners and small agencies suffer from the all-too-common "feast or famine" revenue cycle that occurs in both good times and bad. It's understandable to a point; a full client plate means new business initiatives take a back seat until the current projects end. By then, consultants are scrambling to find work in order to meet expenses without dipping into the precious -- and possibly scarce -- cash reserves.
It can be emotionally and physically draining to ride the same proverbial roller coaster over and over again, believing it to be the nature of the business. I refuse, however, to subscribe to this myth. In fact, PR practitioners and consulting firms can take care of a full client load and still maintain a strong pipeline of prospective customers waiting in the wings regardless of economic conditions.
Q: What are four things you'd recommend small businesses and consultants do to make new business development an everyday occurrence?
A: First, consolidate your contact lists. If you're like most independent practitioners, you've got binders of business cards along with an outdated Outlook database that doesn't integrate with your LinkedIn contacts and other social media-generated followers and friends.
Keep them all in one platform. Though doing so may be a bit daunting in the beginning, it will pay significant time-saving dividends later on by you not having to re-key a person's contact information to send them a new email every time. It would also be valuable for consultants to also categorize and label their contacts in order to make it easier to target messaging to specific groups within the database.
Secondly, put an outbound communications system in place. Set some goals each month as to how many times you will reach out to your new, consolidated contact list. The outreach should focus less on frequency and more on how personal and relevant the message is to each recipient. It could be something business-oriented, such as an offer to sit down and brainstorm how social media PR can draw them new customers. It may also be something completely unrelated to work, such as a sincere "Happy Birthday" greeting.
As important as when and what you say, be sure you determine the manner in which your contacts desire to hear from you. Some like emails while others may prefer Tweets or Facebook communication. There may be a few who still prefer a hand-written note or phone call. Be sensitive to the medium as much as the message, and stay consistent in the regularity and delivery of your correspondence.
A little goes a long way. Don't feel like you need to devote eight hours a day to this new business strategy. It's a bit impossible to do and still keep your current clients happy. Instead, carve out just a few minutes a day to make this happen. If you can devote more time, great -- if you can't, still focus on doing something that will draw you new business as part of your regular routine. Trust me -- if you stick with it, you'll eventually see positive results -- guaranteed.
Lastly, get some help. Don't try and reinvent the wheel. There are several firms that have found ways to do this, and you can learn from them. There are also relatively inexpensive services that allow you to coordinate your new business and client communications efforts in one system without having to spend a lot of upfront money or time to get started. Admittedly, I'm a bit biased here, but the fact remains that going it alone could cost you more in time and low returns than it's worth.
Chat with Lars at firstname.lastname@example.org.