Do you want your clients and prospects to love you? I think most of us self-employed professionals would. When your prospects love you, closing sales is easy. When your clients love you, they keep doing business with you, and refer others to do the same.
Yet the language often used for marketing and sales reveals perspectives that don’t have much to do with love. The path to closing sales is to “overcome objections” or “don’t take no for an answer.” You’re supposed to write “killer copy” to use for a “marketing blitz” or “promotional blasts” so you can “blow away” your “targets.” You should “hone your weapons” so you can “battle for market share,” “fight for sales,” and “smash the competition.” When you succeed, you are “killing it” or “crushing it.”
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?
No doubt about it, it’s been a year…
As we approach year’s end, take a moment to reflect on how it started, and where you’re at now. Very likely it wasn’t business as usual, so what was it business AS?
What’s new or different? What did you try? How did things go? How would you like to finish the year?
Even the best marketing doesn’t always pay off quickly. In the lag time between when you launch a marketing campaign for your business and when you start to see results from it, it’s easy to become discouraged. Especially when you work mostly solo, it can be a difficult task to keep yourself motivated about marketing when there isn’t an immediate payoff.
Once your marketing does begin to work, you may still encounter times when it’s hard to keep it going. You may become overloaded with client work and feel like there’s not enough time to market. Sometimes you may feel blue and begin to wonder if any of your efforts are worthwhile. Or it may just be that marketing isn’t your favorite thing to do.
In working with successful business owners, one of the traits I see come up often is that of being a leader. Some are natural leaders, comfortable with being in charge; others have reluctantly taken on the role. If you seem to have leadership in your bones, fantastic! However, if you find yourself more of a reluctant leader, you’ll want to develop your leadership skills so you can step more into the role.
Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean being a take-charge, my-way-or-the-highway type of person. Being a leader means being willing to say the buck stops here and hold yourself, and those you work with, accountable.
The longer I do this work, the more I come to realize that we self-employed professionals can be our own worst enemies when it comes to getting clients. We know what we should be doing to market ourselves better, and then we don’t do it. Or we don’t know what’s the right thing to do, so we throw a dart and pick something randomly, or respond to the latest email we got, instead of considering our options and making a well-reasoned choice.
Or we make a valid choice, then second-guess ourselves, dropping one marketing strategy and picking up another, without putting enough effort into any one approach to produce results. Or we spend too much time talking to ourselves and not enough talking to prospective clients, worrying about why the last prospect never got back to us, whether the blog post we just wrote is good enough to publish, or if the latest version of our tag line finally gets across our message.
As my spouse Dave and I were sitting one morning at our respective computers, I wondered aloud what topic to choose for my monthly newsletter. Dave, staring at his own screen, complained, “Who has time to work and still keep up with Facebook? Hey, why don’t you write about that?” Now since Dave isn’t even working at this time of year, if he feels overwhelmed by the endless stream of social media posts to read and make, what’s it like for the rest of us?
For the average independent professional who is trying to serve existing clients, run a business, and market for new clients in multiple ways, social media can be only one small piece of the picture. Yet it seems that to use social media well, it can potentially consume an endless amount of time.
Here are five ideas to consider about where social media marketing may fit — or not — into your already busy life.
Have you ever found yourself knowing exactly what you need to do about marketing your business… and then not doing it? You are not alone. Many independent professionals find that the hardest part of marketing isn’t figuring out what to do. What’s hard is actually doing it.
Marketing yourself can be a confronting process. Making phone calls to strangers, writing marketing letters, and talking about yourself and your accomplishments can bring up fear of rejection, harsh commentary from your inner critic, feelings of incompetence, and the discomfort of performing unfamiliar activities. If you let them, these inner saboteurs can stop you dead in your tracks.
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.”
Productivity is a popular buzzword these days. There’s an assumption that being productive is a good thing, and in fact if you’re going to stay in business, you will need to be productive. But what does that really mean, especially when it comes to your marketing?
There’s a phenomenon I think of as pseudo-productivity: when you’re getting things done-ish. These are things that keep you busy, maybe even fill up your calendar, yet they’re not actually productive. Real productivity means you’re getting things done that move your business forward, like getting the word out about your offerings, or creating a solid foundation for your ability to serve your clients.