When interacting with potential clients and referral sources, a helpful self-promotion tool is a collection of client success stories. Everyone loves to hear stories — we find them entertaining, educational, or evocative of deeper emotions. We identify with people through the stories they tell.
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.
A few months after I started my business 25-plus years ago, I was delivering a workshop one evening on an ideal topic to attract likely clients. And sure enough, the room was full of self-employed professionals who were excellent prospects to hire me as a business coach. I presented what I thought was a value-packed program, and my audience seemed to be learning useful material from me. “I’m sure to land some clients from this,” I thought.
After the workshop, a woman came up to me hesitantly. “This class was very helpful,” she said. “But I’m wondering… would it be possible for me to hire you to work with me personally? I don’t know if you do that.”
Writing is a great way to build your business, and whether you’re new to it, or have been doing it for some time, there are ways to make it easy. Below are ideas on how to write so that it can be simple, fun, and effective to accomplish, and create a steady stream of interest in your services.
What to Write
Finding inspiration for what to write is, at times, daunting. Inspiration is all around, though, and often times it’s a matter of adjusting your perception to see it. Just finished a client session? There’s an article in that!
As a self-employed professional, have you defined your marketing niche? You may think so, but a closer look might reveal that your chosen niche isn’t as effective as it could be. You may have selected a target market, but have no defined specialty among the services you offer. Or you may be clear on your professional specialty, but vague on who to target as prospective clients.
A clearly defined niche for an independent professional is one that spells out both a target market and a specialty needed by that market.
To the average self-employed professional, following up with prospective clients feels awkward or even scary. You hate making phone calls that might not be welcome. You think you might be pestering people. You worry about being rejected. You aren’t sure what to say. After all, how many times can you ask, “Are you ready for us to work together?”
I get it. My clients and students share concerns like these with me all the time. I’ve even had them myself.
When self-employed professionals come to me with questions about how to attract their ideal clients, one of the first places I look is whether they have a blog. In my experience, most self-employed professionals have the potential to be excellent bloggers, even when they haven’t written anything longer than an email since leaving college.
Authoring a blog can solve several of the stickiest marketing problems for professionals. Here are five reasons that blogging is one of the marketing methods I recommend most often to my clients and students:
I’m a big fan of using attraction strategies to fill your marketing pipeline as a self-employed professional. Attraction-based tactics like blogging or publishing articles, posting on social media, and generating media publicity can all be effective ways to bring prospective clients into your sphere. Under the right circumstances, promotional events and advertising can work also.
And… attraction strategies alone are rarely enough to build a thriving business.
Do you love your business but hate the selling part? Whether it’s calling prospective clients on the phone or writing persuasive emails and web copy, most self-employed professionals say that selling is the element of their business they dislike the most.
If it was possible to sell without having that feeling of discomfort in your gut, or those sweaty palms and increased heart rate, would you be willing to make a change?