A desperate self-employed professional contacted me recently. “I need to get clients immediately,” she said. “I’ve been trying for months with no success, and I’m almost out of money.” When I asked her how she had been marketing herself all this time, she gave me the following list of what she had been doing:
- Attending networking events where she met people, introduced herself, and exchanged business cards
- Launched a brochure-style website describing her services
- Started a Facebook page and began posting promos for her business and links to content she found interesting
- Printed some flyers and posted them on bulletin boards around town
At the start of every year, I encourage my clients to follow the same practice I do of reviewing the past year before setting intentions for the new one. I find that a thorough review of the previous year can provide important guidance for moving ahead. I make a list of “Successes, Accomplishments, and Breakthroughs” and another of “Failures, Disappointments, and Breakdowns.” After giving myself some time to celebrate my successes, I analyze my failures. Try this process yourself, and see what it provides.
Looking at each of your disappointments over the past year, ask yourself what went wrong in that area, and what you might be able to do differently. Let’s say you didn’t gain enough new clients last year. What’s your take on what went wrong?
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?
I was talking with a good friend and business colleague over dinner recently about being busy. She has very little free time: busy personal life, plus her business to run, and I the same. We both felt pinched for time and were longing for some space, literally and mentally, from those things that are required just to keep our businesses running on a daily basis. We agreed it seems as if there’s a giant mountain of things that we need to do that can sometimes feel like a heavy weight, and only when that work is complete do we have time to do other things.
We self-employed professionals are constantly faced with difficult choices about how to best grow our businesses. Should I pursue this line of business or that one? Would it serve me better to choose Niche A or Niche B? Shall I spend my time building a relationship with Client X or Client Y?
Often, these questions hinge on what we perceive as the most desirable result. If we value potential earnings more highly, we select a course of action that will lead to more money. If we are more concerned with our personal fulfillment, we follow a path that we believe will be more satisfying.
Perhaps this sounds familiar: you think about doing marketing, put it on your calendar, call an accountability buddy, tell yourself you got this, and… an hour later you’re watching YouTube videos of fluffy kittens and eating chocolate.
What happened? You did what the experts say to do to keep yourself accountable:
Get a buddy – check
Put it on the calendar – check
Give yourself a pep talk – check