“I don’t have time to market my business.” It’s a common complaint from self-employed professionals. When you are the only one who can serve your clients, manage the business, keep up in your field, and perform all the sales and marketing functions, time becomes the most precious commodity you have. How can you find time for marketing with so many other important priorities?
You have many time management techniques at your disposal, of course. You can defer some tasks or delegate them to an assistant, chunk down big projects into smaller steps, and set aside blocks of time on your calendar for making calls, writing emails, or updating your social media channels. But perhaps you have already tried all those approaches and discovered that time is still scarce.
One of my clients had recently experienced a string of failures. A business venture that had consumed a great deal of her time flopped. A new line of business she was attempting to market was finding little response in the marketplace. Several of her long-time clients stopped working with her.
She woke up one morning feeling depressed. If her business was failing, perhaps she was a failure as a person. Maybe she needed to give up her business and get a job. Or find a different kind of business to be in. She was feeling lost, stuck, and discouraged.
Seeking inspiration, she ran across this quote, often attributed to Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
A few months after I started my business 25-plus years ago, I was delivering a workshop one evening on an ideal topic to attract likely clients. And sure enough, the room was full of self-employed professionals who were excellent prospects to hire me as a business coach. I presented what I thought was a value-packed program, and my audience seemed to be learning useful material from me. “I’m sure to land some clients from this,” I thought.
After the workshop, a woman came up to me hesitantly. “This class was very helpful,” she said. “But I’m wondering… would it be possible for me to hire you to work with me personally? I don’t know if you do that.”
As a self-employed professional, have you defined your marketing niche? You may think so, but a closer look might reveal that your chosen niche isn’t as effective as it could be. You may have selected a target market, but have no defined specialty among the services you offer. Or you may be clear on your professional specialty, but vague on who to target as prospective clients.
A clearly defined niche for an independent professional is one that spells out both a target market and a specialty needed by that market.
It seems that a considerable amount of marketing and sales advice to self-employed professionals is aimed at extroverts. “Go to networking events and meet new people,” the authorities say. “Speak in front of groups.” “Call people up and chat with them.”
If you are an introvert, these experts might as well be telling you to fly to the moon. What if you don’t enjoy public gatherings, dislike being the center of attention, and hate to call strangers on the phone? Can you still do well at personal marketing?
We self-employed professionals spend a great deal of our marketing effort on searching for the right words. We read books, take classes, and hire consultants to help us write copy for our marketing materials. Composing web pages, writing sales emails, and drafting ad copy consumes hours or days of precious marketing time.
It appears, though, that many professionals have mistaken all this wordsmithing for productive action.
Don’t get me wrong; the words you use to market yourself are important and deserve your attention. But crafting the message, and effectively delivering the message, are not at all the same thing.