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!
Does content marketing have any relevance to you as a self-employed professional? When you hear or read conversations about using free content to attract and persuade clients, the type of marketing being discussed may often seem out of your league. After all, you don’t have a marketing department down the hall that you can ask to produce a video documentary or customer magazine.
But creating content for prospective clients that is useful and relevant to them doesn’t have to be out of reach for a solo professional or small partnership. Much of the best content for professionals to use in their marketing is based on the written word. Consider these forms of content that you may already be producing, and that others like you frequently create:
It’s harder than ever for a self-employed professional to land clients unless you appear credible. Once upon a time, you could get clients based on not much more than a business card, decent clothes, and your ability to present yourself well in a conversation.
Now what happens is that prospective clients check you out online before they decide to do business with you. Even when prospects are referred to you by someone they trust, they will typically visit your website, search online for your name, or look for you on social media. If what they learn doesn’t shout “credibility” to them, you’ll have a tough time getting their business.
One of my coaching clients complained, “I’m really good at what I do. I shouldn’t have to market myself.” In fact, he is quite good at his profession, but the problem is that not enough prospective clients know about him. Like many professionals, he is reluctant to talk about his capabilities and accomplishments. “It feels like bragging,” he says. “Doesn’t it make me seem unprofessional?”
If thoughts like these often cross your mind, ask yourself this — who are the biggest names in your profession? In your line of work, who might be considered unquestioned experts, those with maximum credibility? Now, how did you get to know about those people’s work?
I’ll bet you do great work with your clients. But if your clients are the only ones who know what you can do, you won’t stay in business. We all hope that satisfied clients will refer us to their friends and colleagues, but clients aren’t always your best source of referrals. So, we need to let more people know how terrific our work is.
There are many ways to let prospective clients know about your work, But for most self-employed professionals, there are only four categories that make sense: networking, speaking, writing, and media. These are the best avenues for people to become familiar with not only you, but with how your work creates tangible benefits.
As my spouse Dave and I were sitting one morning at our respective computers, I wondered aloud what topic to choose for my monthly newsletter. Dave, staring at his own screen, complained, “Who has time to work and still keep up with Facebook? Hey, why don’t you write about that?” Now since Dave isn’t even working at this time of year, if he feels overwhelmed by the endless stream of social media posts to read and make, what’s it like for the rest of us?
For the average independent professional who is trying to serve existing clients, run a business, and market for new clients in multiple ways, social media can be only one small piece of the picture. Yet it seems that to use social media well, it can potentially consume an endless amount of time.
Here are five ideas to consider about where social media marketing may fit — or not — into your already busy life.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was on the organizing committee for a huge event. We rented out a venue that could hold 1500 people and hoped to fill it as full as possible. We engaged a well-known author and speaker. We had multiple teams of volunteers handling the event promotion, venue logistics, lunches, back of the room book sales, travel and other arrangements for the speaker. In short, we were on it.
As event day drew closer, we noticed ticket sales were lower than hoped. Not to worry, we thought; we know that many people wait until the week or two before an event to buy their tickets. Nonetheless, the promotion team redoubled their efforts to get the word out. One week before the event, ticket sales still lagging, we realized we had a serious problem and were not likely to meet our goal. Again, the promotion team made one last effort to get the word out.
When the big day arrived, we had fewer than 100 people in attendance. We barely broke even on the event and our efforts to fill the organization’s coffers — and bring a message of hope and transformation to a big audience — were, well… failing.
Writing and publishing articles or blog posts as an expert in your professional specialty can help you become more credible as well as more visible. A well-written piece on a subject of interest to your target market will get clients’ attention, demonstrate your expertise, and increase your name recognition. When your writing is published by someone other than yourself, the boost to your credibility can be substantial.
But if you’ve only ever published your writing on your own blog or website, the process of getting published elsewhere may seem intimidating. Here’s a step-by-step guide to publishing your writing with the aim of attracting more clients.