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.
Trying to implement a marketing approach that has critical elements missing is like trying to make a pie without the ingredients to form the crust. Or in some cases, without an oven to bake it in!
There are four essential elements every successful marketing approach must have:
- Strategy – What are you trying to do, and why?
- Tactic(s) – How will you do it?
- Tool(s) – What will you need to do it well?
- Medium or Venue – Where will you do it?
If any one of these ingredients is missing, your approach will be less effective than it could be, and in many cases, will fail completely. Here are four examples to show you where an incomplete marketing plan can go wrong.
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.
Have you ever considered that prospective clients who are referred to you are much more likely to hire you than those who come to you in any other way? The endorsement of a referral carries so much weight that referred prospects ask fewer questions about your qualifications, are less likely to shop for the lowest price, and typically make their buying decisions much more quickly. In fact, they are often pre-sold when they contact you.
With the value of referred prospects being so high, it makes sense for generating more referrals to be an essential component of your marketing. But many professionals limit their ability to gain referrals by concentrating all their efforts on current and past clients.
“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.”