For a self-employed professional, being successful at marketing doesn’t result from one brilliant idea. Nor does it follow from stringing together a random series of marketing activities, no matter how many different approaches you manage to use. To bring in a sustainable flow of business on a consistent basis, you gotta have a system.
Make a plan
With no system for marketing and sales, you have no priorities for where to focus. “What should I do first?” a new coaching client will often ask me. “I need to update my website, book some speaking engagements, launch a Facebook page, follow up on leads I already have… I don’t even know where to begin.”

When you lack guidelines for managing your time and money, you can quickly overspend those precious resources. “I thought I would update just one thing on my LinkedIn profile,” a colleague recently posted. “Three hours later, I was still working on it.”

Without a system, you also have no framework for making choices. Does it make sense for you to hire the search engine optimization expert you just met? Or should you take that class you heard about on how to launch a blog? Or maybe you should join the networking group someone recently invited you to.

One more missing element in system-less marketing is consistency, a crucial factor in successful marketing. When you don’t have a blueprint to guide you, it’s too easy to neglect what should be ongoing tasks, like following up on your unreturned phone calls or emails, posting to your blog or social media page, or sending broadcasts to your email list.

Here’s what should be included in a marketing and sales system:

  1. What result you wish to see. Name a number of clients, prospects, appointments, dollars, or some other quantifiable target.
  2. What approaches you will use to achieve that result. Choose a spot in the marketing/sales cycle where you will focus, and identify specific strategies to follow.
  3. Exactly what you will do to implement those approaches. Make a list of tasks to perform and tools you need to create or acquire.
  4. When you will do those things. Specify when you will begin and when you will have projects or tools completed.
  5. How often you will do those things. With activities that need to happen repeatedly – phone calls, social media posts, or coffee dates, for example – assign them a frequency or quantity. This could be once per week or three times per day.
  6. What you did, and what results you achieved. Be sure to track what actually happened, not just what you planned for. It’s the only way you’ll know whether your plan is working, and if you’re working the plan.

If you’re already familiar with my Get Clients Now! system, you’ll recognize these six components. Have you fallen off the gotta-have-a-system wagon? Perhaps it’s time to climb back on.

If you’re not acquainted with my system yet, I’d love it if you gave it a try. But my key point is that you need some system in order for your marketing to succeed.

We self-employed folks can be an unruly bunch. We often resist systems and structures. After all, many of us went into business to have more independence and control over our destiny. But making use of an effective system can actually be freeing.

“Once I complete the marketing tasks I’ve chosen,” a student told me, “I can stop worrying about marketing and spend the rest of my time as I like. What a relief!”

Why not take a few minutes right now and sketch out the beginnings of your own marketing system? You have very little to lose and much to gain.

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