The number one complaint my clients and students — self-employed professionals — bring me about their marketing is that they aren’t doing enough of it. You would think this would be easy to fix. I could just tell them to spend more time marketing and selling, and that would solve their problem. But like so many other challenges in life, knowing what needs to be done doesn’t necessarily make that thing occur.
Consider losing weight, for example. If it were as simple as being told to eat less or exercise more, we would all be as thin as we wished just by deciding to make it so. Since that doesn’t happen very often; it’s clear we humans need a bit more help.
Does content marketing have any relevance to you as a self-employed professional? When you hear or read conversations about using free content to attract and persuade clients, the type of marketing being discussed may often seem out of your league. After all, you don’t have a marketing department down the hall that you can ask to produce a video documentary or customer magazine.
But creating content for prospective clients that is useful and relevant to them doesn’t have to be out of reach for a solo professional or small partnership. Much of the best content for professionals to use in their marketing is based on the written word. Consider these forms of content that you may already be producing, and that others like you frequently create:
“How can I improve my marketing?” one of my students asked me. “I’ve spent hours and hours trying to get clients, and none of my efforts seem to pay off.”
I asked my self-employed student just one question: “What would you say is the missing ingredient in your marketing?”
He thought about it for a moment. “Well,” he said, “I don’t think I’m networking in the right places. I seem to meet a lot of jobseekers and salespeople, but I’m not connecting with corporate decision-makers or meeting other consultants like myself who might be able to give me referrals. That’s who I really need to be meeting. Say, I’d better find some new groups to network with!”
It’s harder than ever for a self-employed professional to land clients unless you appear credible. Once upon a time, you could get clients based on not much more than a business card, decent clothes, and your ability to present yourself well in a conversation.
Now what happens is that prospective clients check you out online before they decide to do business with you. Even when prospects are referred to you by someone they trust, they will typically visit your website, search online for your name, or look for you on social media. If what they learn doesn’t shout “credibility” to them, you’ll have a tough time getting their business.
It’s only natural to emulate successful people. You’d like to copy their success, so it seems it would make sense to copy their approach to sales and marketing. But modeling your marketing after the gurus in your field may not get you where they are.
Simply put, the present situation of these highly successful people may be entirely different from your own. Gurus typically have plenty of money to spend, staff to help, a large in-house mailing list, many followers on social media, widespread name recognition, a suite of products and services to offer, and many years of completed work to draw from. If you don’t have all this in your business, trying to copy their marketing and sales approach may be a recipe for failure rather than success.
I recently ran across a 2017 study by FreshBooks Cloud Accounting asking 1,700 self-employed professionals, independent professionals, and small business owners what they found to be the most effective marketing strategies. All the participants had fewer than 10 employees, and 77% of them were solopreneurs, making this group a close match to the readers of this blog.
I was pleased to see how closely their answers aligned with the list of Effective Marketing Strategies in Get Clients Now! and the advice Kris Carey and I give our clients, students, and readers. Here’s what these self-employed professionals named as “highly effective” marketing strategies: