If you’re like most self-employed professionals, you started the year with goals, plans, and maybe even dreams, for your business. This was going to be the year you reached ambitious marketing goals, implemented a realistic marketing plan, or expanded your business with a new market or service. And now, you find yourself not on target. The goal’s not met, the plan isn’t in place, or the expansion hasn’t taken off. That’s a pretty normal state of affairs for us self-employed folks. Stuff just gets in the way.
There’s really only one solution to this problem, although it comes in a number of different flavors. Take action. Now.
When should a self-employed professional stop marketing his or her business? Here are a few possible scenarios where you might be tempted to put marketing on hold:
o When your pipeline is full.
o When you don’t need or want any more clients.
o When your schedule is so full you don’t know where you’d fit in another client.
o When you have five proposals pending and you’re afraid they’ll all come through.
o When the holidays / vacation / summer are approaching.
o When you’re so busy fulfilling your current client obligations you don’t have the time or bandwidth for marketing.
If you’re answering calls, replying to emails and notes, responding to invitations, and receiving referrals and leads, it probably feels like you’re taking a lot of action to market your business. But it may be that a good deal of what you’re engaged in is actually RE-action.
Waiting to hear from the right prospects is nowhere near as productive as proactively taking steps to seek them out. And a stream of incoming communications can take up time and energy, but doesn’t always lead to closed sales.
Consider these suggestions for getting out of reaction mode and becoming more proactive in your marketing.
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?
Most of us self-employed professionals truly enjoy no longer having to answer to The Boss. But the lack of anyone to report to can be a problem. There’s no one to make you perform sales and marketing tasks you don’t want to do. If you procrastinate about posting to your blog, resist going to networking events, or find follow-up calls too scary to make, no one will know that you’re avoiding marketing except you.
I understand that marketing and sales involve activities that can be confronting. Even I don’t always find marketing easy, and that’s after 25-plus years of having a successful business.
They lie in wait for you when you least expect them — the marketing dragons of fear, resistance and procrastination. Just when you think you’ve defeated them at last, they rear their ugly heads again. What’s a self-employed professional to do?
First of all, don’t panic, despair, or beat yourself up. It’s completely normal to have elements of fear and resistance show up around sales and marketing. Even if it seems like you’re the only one who has these feelings, trust me, you’re not.