Unless you’re literally hiding under a rock, if you’re in business and have any clients at all, you’re doing something that qualifies as marketing. People tend to fall into two camps: those who are doing more marketing than they realize, and those who are doing less than they think.
Which camp do you fall into?
As an aside, for our purposes we’re defining marketing as getting the word out about your business, it’s services and benefits, to potential customers so that you can have a sales conversation with them and hopefully close the sale. Marketing creates opportunities to have sales conversations.
“Will this marketing approach be worth my while?” It’s a question self-employed professionals often ask. But there’s a related question that, unfortunately, they ask much less often: “How much will it cost compared to what it brings in?” Surprisingly few professionals know the answer to this crucial question, and many admit it had simply never occurred to them.
Every marketing approach has a set of costs attached. Social media ads, pay-per-click campaigns, and trade show exhibits come with a price tag in dollars. Networking mixers, business lunches, and posting/interacting on social media take up your time, and may also incur expenses.
A question I often get from clients and students goes something like this: “I’ve been collecting marketing ideas… and I have a drawer full! I also have a stack of promising leads I’ve accumulated. And I know it’s important to stay visible, so I keep marketing, but then I just end up with more names in the stack. How do I prioritize all this?”
If you’ve ever wondered something similar, you may have lost sight of a very important truth — the way to win the business game is not to collect the most leads; it’s to make the most sales.
“But how do I get them to trust me if they don’t know me?” my client asked.
“Exactly,” I replied. “They have to get to know you in order to trust you. Either that, or they need to be referred to you by someone they know and trust already.”
Client: “So, you’re telling me that making cold calls and running ads are a waste of time and money?”
Me: “Yes. Unless you use those tactics to open the door to your prospective clients getting to know and trust you. If you expect to move from a call or an ad to a quick sale, you’ll be disappointed.”
Your business has multiple aspects to it, things that need attention. Some are more important than others, some more fun than others. There’s one bottom line that needs consistent attention no matter what though, and that’s marketing.
Marketing can have vague connotations: does that mean posting fliers, or hiring a consultant? Does it mean going to mixers, or investing in social media? It could mean any or all of these marketing strategies; while it’s important to find the right marketing strategies for you and your business (you can read more about that here), what’s most important is that you do some kind of marketing on a regular basis. If not, your business will soon be in trouble. The question is, what’s the best way to do that?
Maybe you’ve been there: you’re talking to someone in your industry at a mixer and they ask you if you’re using [insert name of the latest trend here] to market your business. Or you’re talking to a seasoned business owner and they say that “everybody” in your industry uses [a certain marketing strategy], making it sound mandatory. You stand there frozen: a) not knowing if those strategies are right for you; or b) wondering what you did wrong, because you tried those strategies and they didn’t work. You’re left wondering, how do you figure out what marketing strategies are the right ones for you?