Do you find sales and marketing to often be a struggle? It doesn’t have to be that way. The most successful professionals make it look easy because they have found a way to market themselves that is effortless. Perhaps you have tried to copy what those successful people were doing, and it didn’t work for you. Here’s why.
Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You have to find your own unique path, the one that works best for you and your business. To make marketing and selling easy, that path needs to be the one where you will encounter the least resistance — both from the marketplace and from inside yourself.
As a business owner, it’s natural to have lots of ideas about getting the word out about your offerings and to want to test out new ways. You’ve tried different marketing techniques, some of which you liked more, some that worked better, and some you’re convinced will work eventually. The question is, what’s really working, and how long should you test something to know?
Testing requires two things: curiosity and measuring. Curiosity to try something new, and measuring so you’ll know how well it’s working and whether it’s worth continuing to do. Here are several things to keep in mind when you’re testing different marketing strategies:
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.
My clients often ask me to help figure out what’s wrong with their marketing. The first question I ask is how much marketing they’ve been doing, since many failures have more to do with quantity than quality. But assuming you’ve been sufficiently active at promoting yourself, here are some other ways in which your marketing might need fixing.
There are three areas you should examine — the package of services you are offering, your marketing strategies, and your sales methods. In order to market and sell effectively, your package of services should meet the following requirements:
The longer I do this work, the more I come to realize that we self-employed professionals can be our own worst enemies when it comes to getting clients. We know what we should be doing to market ourselves better, and then we don’t do it. Or we don’t know what’s the right thing to do, so we throw a dart and pick something randomly, or respond to the latest email we got, instead of considering our options and making a well-reasoned choice.
Or we make a valid choice, then second-guess ourselves, dropping one marketing strategy and picking up another, without putting enough effort into any one approach to produce results. Or we spend too much time talking to ourselves and not enough talking to prospective clients, worrying about why the last prospect never got back to us, whether the blog post we just wrote is good enough to publish, or if the latest version of our tag line finally gets across our message.
Is your marketing plan producing the results you need? When was the last time you evaluated your plan to see if it is leading you toward success? Are you even using a marketing plan at all? Here are four questions to help you determine whether it’s time to reset your plan.
1. Are you getting in touch every month with at least three times as many new clients as you need? Not every prospective client will say yes. You need to have a marketing pipeline filled with prospects, contacts, leads, and referrals that you can draw from.