Do you find sales and marketing to often be a struggle? It doesn’t have to be that way. The most successful professionals make it look easy because they have found a way to market themselves that is effortless. Perhaps you have tried to copy what those successful people were doing, and it didn’t work for you. Here’s why.

Path of least resistance

Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You have to find your own unique path, the one that works best for you and your business. To make marketing and selling easy, that path needs to be the one where you will encounter the least resistance — both from the marketplace and from inside yourself.

Here are six steps to put you on the road to effortless sales and marketing:

1. Be willing to let go of struggle. You may believe you want sales and marketing to be easier, but stop and think for a moment. Is there a part of you that is so used to things being difficult that you continue allowing them to be an uphill climb? Is it secretly gratifying somehow to work so hard? Whenever you find yourself struggling about marketing, pause and ask yourself, “How could this be easier?”

2. Market to the people you like, and who like you. A colleague once told me I would never earn a living marketing my services to small businesses. “You have to focus on getting corporate clients,” she said. “Then you can afford to work with entrepreneurs once in a while.”

Thank goodness I didn’t listen to her. Maybe that was the formula that worked for her business, but it wasn’t a match for what I wanted at all. One of the reasons I became self-employed was to spend more time working outside corporate environments. If I had followed her advice, I would have failed miserably.

3. Start with the people who are ready for your message. Yes, there is an entire population out there who would hire you if only you could make them understand what it is you offer and how you can help them. You can make educating those people part of your long-term mission. But in the meantime, you need to pay your bills.

Seek out the clients who are most likely to already understand the value of what you do. If you are a money manager, you’ll gain more clients by speaking at the Millionaires Circle than you would at either the Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration. On the other hand, if you consult with corporations on reducing their carbon footprint, you’ll get better results by networking with Businesses for the Environment than you would with the Millionaires Circle.

4. Choose marketing strategies that match who you are. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a mediocre cold caller. It just doesn’t fit my personal style. So I focus on the strategies that are natural to me — speaking, writing, and networking to build referrals. I’ve consistently maintained a thriving business that way for over twenty-five years now.

One of my past clients is a business coach like me who targets small businesses and professional service firms. Her business is identical to mine, but her personality is completely different. She loves to cold call, and has been able to fill her practice that way. Speaking and networking don’t come naturally to her at all. It’s a good thing she didn’t try to copy me.

5. Find people who can pay what you need to charge. If you persist in marketing to people who can’t pay your fees, you will encounter not just resistance, but a brick wall. Don’t give up because it seems that no one in the population you want to serve has any money. You need to look for an intersection between your desired market and people who have enough resources to hire you.

Colleagues have told me many times that one-person businesses in start-up mode can’t or won’t pay for business coaching. But I have had many, many people in this situation as full-fee clients. The intersection is that these folks were high net worth individuals before becoming entrepreneurs. People say you can’t make money working with public schools, but I have had many clients who do so, as consultants, workshop leaders, and professional speakers. The intersection they found was schools with funds obtained from grants and corporate sponsors.

6. Pay attention to how people respond when you talk about your business. A client of mine used to be a computer software trainer. When she talked about her work, people nodded politely. But what she really wanted to do was teach public speaking. When she began to talk about that idea, her listeners got excited.

The difference wasn’t in the content of her message — public speaking can be just as dry a topic as computer software. It was her own enthusiasm for the work that attracted such a positive response. If you really want your marketing to be effortless, you need to be in a business that excites you.

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