I asked a new client recently what he had been doing to market his professional services. “Everything,” he said. “I’ve been running pay-per-click ads online, I hired someone to write a sales letter and mailed it to a list of local companies, I have a banner ad in my professional association’s directory, I’ve even been posting flyers around town… and I still have almost no business.”
“Ah hah,” I replied, “I think we’ve uncovered your problem. You actually haven’t been marketing your business. What you have been doing is advertising.”
You can learn a lot about marketing by listening to broadcast radio or streaming audio. You can learn even more by noticing when you’re not listening. A clear signal and music or talk you like to hear will keep you tuned in to a particular station or channel. But too much static, a connection that keeps dropping, too many ads, or programming not to your taste will overwhelm the signal, and all you’ll hear is noise. That’s when you’ll tune out. Which is pretty much the same way that our prospective clients react to our marketing messages.
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.
I have a dream for us self-employed professionals. I picture us all making simple marketing and sales plans, working our plans consistently, and as a result, landing all the clients we need. But in order for my dream to come true, we’re going to have to stop letting ourselves be pulled off track by the tempting lure of silver bullet solutions.
The lure of the silver bullet
Maybe you know the ones I mean. There’s always some flavor-of-the-month approach to sales and marketing that you’re hearing about.
Are you considering adding promotional events to your marketing mix? Remember that promotional events are one of six overall marketing strategies (more on that below), and can be a great way to garner visibility and gather leads to fill your marketing pipeline.
If you’re not sure what promotional events are, here are some examples:
- Exhibiting at a trade show
- Holding a free demonstration
- Hosting your own webinar or workshop