I frequently tell my clients and students that the real secret to getting clients is choosing a set of simple, effective marketing activities, and engaging in them consistently. “Okay,” folks often reply, “but how do I know that I’ve chosen the right marketing activities?” Here’s what you need to explore.
What Kind of Marketing Is Best?
The best marketing methods — the ones that really belong on your list of things to do every day or every week — are the ones that put you into direct contact with your target market. You speak with prospective clients in person, you talk to them on the phone, you write personal, not mass produced, letters or emails. You network; you build referral relationships; you speak in public.
All of these approaches are excellent ways to reach out to customers directly. They are so much more effective than relying on website copy and email blasts to generate business, or sending out your ezine to people who never requested it, or creating a Facebook page where you post as your business instead of as yourself, and all the posts you make are promotional. Yet these are things that I very often see self-employed professionals do.
If you focus on interacting with people rather than just throwing sales copy at them, you’re going to be much more successful at filling your marketing pipeline and getting clients.
To determine which activities to choose, you need to pare down marketing to its most basic elements. Marketing looks complicated because there are so many choices. But if you put in place some guidelines for making decisions, it can get quite simple.
In the Get Clients Now! system, I provide rules, a structure, and tools to build your own custom marketing plan. If you don’t have a copy of the book handy, or you just want a shortcut, below is what to consider.
Where Are You Stuck?
First, figure out where your marketing might be stuck. Another way to put it is — where does your marketing need more work? Should you be focusing on filling your marketing pipeline with new prospects? Or should your efforts be mostly around following up with the prospects you already have? Or are you following up consistently, but you’re not getting to have sales conversations with your prospects? Or are you having those conversations, but not closing sales?
If you can determine which of those four stages you might be stuck in — filling the pipeline, following up, having sales conversations, or closing sales — you can figure out what’s missing.
What Are You Missing?
Let’s say you’re stuck on filling the pipeline. Okay, why can’t you fill the pipeline? Maybe you don’t know where to find potential clients. Why don’t you know where to find potential clients? Well, it seems like your clients could be anywhere. Ah, then you need a more clearly defined market niche.
Just like that, you’ve identified a missing ingredient for your marketing that needs to be created or obtained. It’s an essential tool that you’re missing. Start building your marketing plan with the commitment to develop this tool: define your market niche.
What Can You Do About It?
Now, if you knew who was in your market niche, what would be two or three simple actions you could take repeatedly to land new clients? Could you perhaps attend local networking events that are a match for your niche? And afterwards, call up the people you met there, and talk to them about what they need and what you do? And ask them if they’d like to become your client, or ask if they’d be willing to refer you people who might be a good fit?
What Are Some Examples?
The above set of marketing activities — define your market niche, find networking events that fit that niche, and follow up with the people you meet there to see if they could become clients or referral sources — is just one example of where the questions I’ve suggested might lead.
If you’re stuck on follow-up, and ask yourself what might be missing, the answer could be that you don’t have a good contact management system. If you did, what might be two or three actions you could take? Maybe you could launch a call-mail-call campaign for everyone you’ve spoken with about your business who said they weren’t ready the first time around.
Or if it’s having sales conversations where you’re stuck, you could discover that you haven’t been asking any qualifying questions to narrow your focus to more likely clients. If you created questions like that and started asking them, you might be able to put more effort into developing relationships with only the very best prospects.
Or if your problem area is closing sales, you could find that you’re missing a concrete way to show clients what you can do. If you were to write a white paper or case study that made your work tangible, you could work on getting that paper into the hands of all your existing contacts and referral sources, plus reach out to new ones to share this valuable resource.
Putting It All Together
Here are the questions to ask yourself again:
- Where is your marketing stuck? Or where does it need more work? (Filling the pipeline, following up, having sales conversations, or closing sales?)
- Why can’t you, or why aren’t you doing that? (Why can’t you fill the pipeline, why aren’t you following up, etc.)
- What tool could you create or obtain that would solve the problem you identified in #2?
- If you had that tool, what two or three actions could you take repeatedly to land new clients?
The answers to these questions will tell you exactly what marketing activities you need to be engaging in to get clients. Ready, set, go!