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.”
One of my coaching clients complained, “I’m really good at what I do. I shouldn’t have to market myself.” In fact, he is quite good at his profession, but the problem is that not enough prospective clients know about him. Like many professionals, he is reluctant to talk about his capabilities and accomplishments. “It feels like bragging,” he says. “Doesn’t it make me seem unprofessional?”
If thoughts like these often cross your mind, ask yourself this — who are the biggest names in your profession? In your line of work, who might be considered unquestioned experts, those with maximum credibility? Now, how did you get to know about those people’s work?
I’ll bet you do great work with your clients. But if your clients are the only ones who know what you can do, you won’t stay in business. We all hope that satisfied clients will refer us to their friends and colleagues, but clients aren’t always your best source of referrals. So, we need to let more people know how terrific our work is.
There are many ways to let prospective clients know about your work, But for most self-employed professionals, there are only four categories that make sense: networking, speaking, writing, and media. These are the best avenues for people to become familiar with not only you, but with how your work creates tangible benefits.
Never underestimate the power of a thank you. Not long ago, I thanked someone for helping me solve a technical problem. She replied to my note of thanks by inviting me as a guest speaker for a group she chairs. I didn’t even know she chaired this group and I had never considered speaking there. This speaking opportunity would never have occurred if I hadn’t taken a moment to say thanks. It started me thinking about how often saying thank you turns into paying business.
Here in the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving week, when we often pause to reflect on our gratitude. So it’s an excellent time to consider seven ways of saying thank you that can bring you more clients.
Effective marketing of your business requires commitment. No matter what marketing approach you choose, you must be consistent and persistent with it, if you want to see results. You’ve probably heard that advice. But this sort of commitment doesn’t always happen in practice.
Do any of these phrases sound like something you may have said about marketing at some point?
“I tried that a couple of times, but I didn’t see results right away, so I stopped.”
“I was using X to market my business, but then a friend suggested Y, so I started doing that instead.”
“I don’t know if this is the best way to market myself, so I don’t want to risk doing it.”