Your business has multiple aspects to it, things that need attention. Some are more important than others, some more fun than others. There’s one bottom line that needs consistent attention no matter what though, and that’s marketing.
Marketing can have vague connotations: does that mean posting fliers, or hiring a consultant? Does it mean going to mixers, or investing in social media? It could mean any or all of these marketing strategies; while it’s important to find the right marketing strategies for you and your business (you can read more about that here), what’s most important is that you do some kind of marketing on a regular basis. If not, your business will soon be in trouble. The question is, what’s the best way to do that?
Maybe you’ve been there: you’re talking to someone in your industry at a mixer and they ask you if you’re using [insert name of the latest trend here] to market your business. Or you’re talking to a seasoned business owner and they say that “everybody” in your industry uses [a certain marketing strategy], making it sound mandatory. You stand there frozen: a) not knowing if those strategies are right for you; or b) wondering what you did wrong, because you tried those strategies and they didn’t work. You’re left wondering, how do you figure out what marketing strategies are the right ones for you?
As a business owner, it’s natural to have lots of ideas about getting the word out about your offerings and to want to test out new ways. You’ve tried different marketing techniques, some of which you liked more, some that worked better, and some you’re convinced will work eventually. The question is, what’s really working, and how long should you test something to know?
Testing requires two things: curiosity and measuring. Curiosity to try something new, and measuring so you’ll know how well it’s working and whether it’s worth continuing to do. Here are several things to keep in mind when you’re testing different marketing strategies:
I frequently tell my clients and students that the real secret to getting clients is choosing a set of simple, effective marketing activities, and engaging in them consistently. “Okay,” folks often reply, “but how do I know that I’ve chosen the right marketing activities?” Here’s what you need to explore.
What Kind of Marketing Is Best?
The best marketing methods — the ones that really belong on your list of things to do every day or every week — are the ones that put you into direct contact with your target market. You speak with prospective clients in person, you talk to them on the phone, you write personal, not mass produced, letters or emails. You network; you build referral relationships; you speak in public.
My clients often ask me to help figure out what’s wrong with their marketing. The first question I ask is how much marketing they’ve been doing, since many failures have more to do with quantity than quality. But assuming you’ve been sufficiently active at promoting yourself, here are some other ways in which your marketing might need fixing.
There are three areas you should examine — the package of services you are offering, your marketing strategies, and your sales methods. In order to market and sell effectively, your package of services should meet the following requirements:
Are the results you’re getting from your marketing not what you hoped for? Perhaps there is something else you should be doing. I don’t mean something more. You are probably working hard at marketing already. I’m suggesting something else.
It’s been my experience that many independent professionals just don’t market the way they should. Here are the five most common reasons, and how you can overcome them:
1. Missing information.
There’s a lot of misleading information out there about marketing.