One of the most persistent barriers to the success of self-employed professionals at marketing themselves is the “I don’t know how” problem. Here’s how it often goes.
An expert or a colleague advises you to take some specific marketing action: “Collect all your leads in a contact management system” or “Write a white paper” or “Ask your website visitors to subscribe to your mailing list” or “Develop some referral partners.” You evaluate that idea, and decide it’s a good one. “Great,” you say, “that’s just what I’ll do.”
“I don’t know how to market,” one of my coaching clients said. “I hate marketing,” declared another. “The marketing thing feels so unnatural to me,” claimed a third.
My response to statements like these from my clients is to reply (gently and compassionately), “I don’t think that’s true. I think you’ve just misunderstood what marketing is, and how it works.”
When You Think You Don’t Know How to Market
Do you love your business but hate the selling part? Whether it’s calling prospective clients on the phone or writing persuasive emails and web copy, most self-employed professionals say that selling is the element of their business they dislike the most.
If it was possible to sell without having that feeling of discomfort in your gut, or those sweaty palms and increased heart rate, would you be willing to make a change?
A common complaint I hear from the self-employed professionals I work with is that they’ve tried blogging as a marketing approach, but it hasn’t paid off. No one is reading their blog, they tell me. Or they’ve got some readership, but their readers never seem to become paying clients. Is it time to give up blogging, they ask? Maybe they should focus on social media instead.
Yikes! Don’t make that choice. Social media marketing doesn’t work without good, original content to share.
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.
The number one complaint my clients and students — self-employed professionals — bring me about their marketing is that they aren’t doing enough of it. You would think this would be easy to fix. I could just tell them to spend more time marketing and selling, and that would solve their problem. But like so many other challenges in life, knowing what needs to be done doesn’t necessarily make that thing occur.
Consider losing weight, for example. If it were as simple as being told to eat less or exercise more, we would all be as thin as we wished just by deciding to make it so. Since that doesn’t happen very often; it’s clear we humans need a bit more help.