Tom was frozen in his marketing.
After he’d left the corporate world about three years ago and started his own consulting practice, he found it very difficult to attract enough clients. “It’s not that I haven’t been doing marketing activities,” he told me. “It’s just that they’re not getting results. And I’m wondering if I’m doing the right things.”
I went on to explain to Tom that there were two main areas of marketing and that he needed to understand the difference and find a balance between the two.
These two marketing areas are long and short-term marketing. Each of these areas consists of several different activities. The long-term activities set you up for visibility and credibility and short-term activities will get you appointments with qualified prospects.
Long-Term Marketing Activities
I explained to Tom that there were five long-term marketing activities that were especially important for Independent Professionals and that these long-term activities would build a solid marketing foundation and then maintain the structure of that foundation. Here they are:
Create a Great Marketing Message
Essentially, you need a powerful message that hits a nerve when someone asks you what you do. Say who you work with and the key issues and challenges you address – “I work with emerging leaders who are frustrated that they aren’t progressing fast enough.”
But make sure your message stays relevant. My marketing messaged transitioned from “I’m a small business consultant,” (in 1984) to “I help Independent Professionals get their marketing unstuck and into action.” (2015)
Develop a Great Website
Your website needs to be more than “good.” It should be great. It needs exceptional design, messages that talk about the issues and challenges you help your clients with, in-depth descriptions of your services and case studies of your most successful clients.
And remember that your homepage has only two purposes: To introduce you and your business with impact and to exchange a free report for the names and email addresses of your web visitors.
Focus on Building a List
When I put up my first website in 1997 and started studying the web experts, I learned that giving something away on my site in exchange for names and emails was the key. And things haven’t changed in 18 years. Building your e-list in the long-term gives enables you to promote your services directly to that list This is one of the short-term activities I’ll talk about below.
Do Keep-in-Touch Marketing
Once you have a list (I started with 50), start sending valuable information on your area of expertise. Make a list of 12 of the most common challenges your clients face and start with articles on how to resolve those challenges.
And then also place those articles from your email newsletter on your blog. At minimum, write an article every month, more often if you can manage it. I do mine weekly.
Engage in Social Media
Social media keeps your name out there. But too many people rely on social media for short-term marketing. In my experience, it doesn’t work too well for that. Social media is far more useful as a place for bouncing ideas around and for sharing and learning about resources.
I pointed out to Tom that putting these long-term marketing activities into place would take time and effort, but without this foundation, his marketing would not have the solidity he wanted.
“OK,” said Tom. “But once this marketing foundation is in place, what else do I need to do? And how exactly are long and short-term marketing different?”
“What makes them different, I said, “is that long-term marketing is more passive, while short-term marketing is very proactive.
“I sometimes think of long-term marketing as the great shows that are aired by public broadcasting. Short-term marketing is like the pledge breaks where they ask for your money!
“So now, let’s look at those short-term marketing activities.”
Short-Term Marketing Activities
You can engage in the following activities as soon as possible, even while you’re building your long-term foundation, but the more solid your foundation, the better results you’ll see.
Do In-Person Networking
Meeting someone in-person has a hundred times the impact of a social media connection. Find organizations that contain potential clients or that can connect you with potential clients. Attend events regularly, get involved, practice your message, offer your report and get them on your list.
It’s not unusual that you’ll meet with someone at a meeting, follow up and have a selling conversation within a week or two. It’s happened to me many times. And, of course, the more you get to know people, the better results you’ll get.
Do Speaking, Webinars or TeleClasses
If you don’t have much of a list to start, you won’t get much traction with webinars and teleclasses, however, there are more opportunities than ever for live speaking. Professional groups, business associations, chambers of commerce, even Meet-Up groups can be great places to position yourself as the expert.
Right now one of my clients has been very successful in setting up talks for local SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) chapters. He collects cards from those who attend and follows up with them. He’s never had more qualified leads.
Most people pray for referrals. That doesn’t work. Instead, Ask for referrals and educate your clients on how to make connections for you. Say something like: “If you happen to have a conversation with someone who is having the same challenges you were having before you worked with me, can you give me a call and let me know? Then you can tell me more about them and share the best way to reach out to them.”
This certainly works better than, “If you know anyone who can use my services, tell them to call me.”
Promote to Your E-List
If you’ve been on my list for anytime, you know I promote various programs to those on my list. I do my best not to overdo it by sending no more than one promotional email a week. I usually do less.
But direct email promotion really gets results. With just three or four emails, over two or three weeks, I fill most of the programs I promote. But, of course, to do that you need to have a list of 1,000 or more. My e-list promotions have generated millions in sales of programs and coaching over years. Make list-building a big priority if you want similar results.
Balancing Long and Short-Term Marketing
Tom had another question about balancing long and short-term marketing activities: “Do I need to get all the long-term pieces into place before I start my short-term marketing activities?”
“Not at all,” I answered. “Once you nail down your marketing message, get out there and start networking immediately. As you get responses, you’ll be able to fine-tune your message on the spot. The best marketing training you can get is face-to-face interactions with prospective clients.”
I also pointed out to him that he may want to get his website up soon, so he could point people to it, but that he didn’t have to have every single piece completed before he launched it.
I also reminded him that I was getting a lot of speaking engagements years before I even had a website.
“It sounds like a lot of work,” said Tom. “How do you manage it all?”
“It’s not so hard if you have a good organizational system. You may have a list of a dozen things to learn about and put into action, but you can only do so much in one day or a week. I break things down into long and short-term lists. Before long, everything gets done without too much struggle.”
Then I pointed him to an article I’d written recently on how to manage a lot of things without getting overwhelmed. You can read it here: Lists That Will Help You Manage Marketing Overwhelm.
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