Clients and readers often ask me to help them figure out what’s wrong with their marketing. The first question I ask is how much marketing they have been doing. Assuming you HAVE been actively promoting yourself, and making sufficient contacts for the level of business you want, here are some other ways in which your marketing might need fixing.
There are three areas you should examine — the package of services you are offering, your marketing strategy, and your sales methods. Your package of services should meet the following requirements:
1. You are offering something people believe that they need.
2. Your clients perceive the value of your services to be
equivalent to the price you’re charging.
3. Your services are available where and when clients need them.
4. You are able to inspire the liking and trust of your clients.
5. There’s enough business for everybody in your field,
or your competitors have no overwhelming advantages.
If these requirements are met, the problem may lie with your sales and marketing techniques. Your marketing strategy is everything you do to get in contact with a prospective customer and make them think positively about you. Your sales methods are the steps you take to turn that positive contact into a paying client.
Here are some of the most common sales and marketing mistakes that consultants, professionals, and other service businesses make:
* Not choosing a target market. You can’t market to everybody. There isn’t enough time in the day or money in your bank account to reach out to everyone who could possibly hire you. If you choose a specific category of client who has a compelling need for your services (and who you enjoy working with), you can tailor your marketing message, and focus your strategy.
* Relying on advertising. People rarely find a professional from an ad, even one in a targeted publication. While advertising does build your visibility, it’s more expensive and less effective than other visibility-builders like writing articles and giving talks.
* Broadcasting a fuzzy marketing message. If people can’t understand what you do, they can’t figure out if they need you. You should develop a clear, concise description of your services that can be understood by people who aren’t familiar with your field.
* Lack of follow-up. A single contact is rarely enough to make someone remember you. Find ways to keep in touch with prospective clients or referral sources on a regular basis.
* Failing to establish a clear path to the sale. At the end of every conversation or letter, be sure to spell out the next step for the client to take if they want to do business with you. If they’re not yet ready to buy, suggest a meeting, tell them you’ll call in a week, or ask if you can contact them again next month.
* Expecting short-term results from long-term strategies. While networking is often the best marketing strategy there is, the results are rarely immediate. Don’t give up on making contacts and following up because you don’t get business right away.
Finally, be aware of the possibility that you may be doing everything right! It often takes many months to close a particular sale. Some clients can’t use you right now, but may be eager to hire you next year. Others are very interested in going forward, but need time to get management approval or resolve money issues.
If you’re offering the right package to the right clients, delivering a clear and consistent marketing message, and working hard to close every potential sale, the only missing element may be patience.