Here are five Essential Marketing Action Steps that I believe will help you more than anything else, at least in the beginning stages of your managing your business.
1. Get clear about your Primary Marketing Goals
At some point, and the earlier the better, you must ask yourself about what it is that you want to accomplish with your business. It’s fun to say you want to change the world or that you want to help people, and those things are certainly true, but what is it, more specifically, that you want to achieve by being in business?
For many Soul Proprietors, being self-employed and having a business is a way to pay the bills. For others it may be that they want to bring in enough extra money to take the family on a great cruise vacation every year. (In fact, you’re reading this while I’m on a cruise vacation myself to Alaska.) For someone else, it might be that they can stay home with their children while they are growing up.
For me, being self-employed means freedom. Freedom to do what I love, to make my own mistakes, to be responsible for my success, to work with only those I love and care about, to work as many (or as few) hours as I want, to live my life in an RV traveling around the USA, and the freedom to be my authentic self showing up everyday to do what I can to change and improve my part of the world.
If I absolutely had to, I could go back and work for someone else, but I don’t think I’d be very happy and therefore probably wouldn’t do that great a job. When I had a corporate job so many years ago, I spent so much of my head-time thinking of ways I would do things differently in my own business. You probably know as well as I do that ideas are not always that welcome in corporate life.
So, ask yourself, “Why am I in business? What does being in business for myself allow me to have or to accomplish?”
Now, you thought I was going to ask you to come up with a list of financial goals for your business didn’t you? Well, I AM going to ask you to do that, too, but I want you to think about those other goals first and write them down.
Then, since numbers really are our friends, you can come back and set some financial goals. For instance, if you want to earn enough to take the family on a cruise vacation this year, how much do you need to earn each month, each week, each day, and each hour to make that happen?
Once you know that number it’s very easy to do the math to figure out how many clients you need to see or how many products you need to sell to earn that amount. So your goal might be to attract X number of clients by a certain date so you can be sure to make the cruise deposit, and another X number of clients to pay for the rest at a later date.
These kinds of goals are much easier to achieve because you’ve got something of value that you are working toward and you’ve got a date by which you will accomplish it — or else, you won’t be taking anyone on that cruise!
Remember, too, that your clients and customers want you to succeed. They’re all rooting for you. They want you to take that cruise and they’re happy to help get you on it even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing.
Don’t worry that your goals might seem selfish. Believe me, you are NOT being selfish. It is never a selfish act when you help someone get what they want and they reward you by paying you what you are worth.
2. Know your ideal/perfect client
It bears repeating that you absolutely must be clear about who your ideal client is. I can’t say it enough. Sadly, most Soul Proprietors avoid thinking about this because they are afraid they might exclude somebody. If you’ve been around me for a while, you already know that I’m a strong advocate of knowing your ideal client and recognizing the ones that aren’t. Especially so you can recognize the ones that aren’t. (Your life will be SO much easier when you can master that skill.)
This is one step that I hope you will not skip. Remember, figuring out who your ideal client is as easy as just deciding who they are and all the qualities you want them to possess. That’s right, don’t make this hard, you decide with whom you want to work. While I don’t believe there’s anything magical about marketing, this step comes mighty close to being just that — magic.
Because when you decide who your ideal client is — who will bring you the most joy to work with and who will happily pay you what you are worth — exactly those kinds of clients begin to show up. It’s the best example of the Law of Attraction at work that I know of.
Because our thinking along these lines is not always perfect, just be prepared for some folks to show up asking you to work with them who are not your ideal client. Here’s where the magic really kicks in. You get to say “no” if they aren’t a good fit for you. Of course, you are still free to say “yes” but at least you will enter into the relationship with your eyes fully open, knowing that there might be a few rough spots. If you’re willing to work through those, then that person may very well turn into your ideal client.
Just remember, you always have a choice. Isn’t that exciting?
3. Know your core message points.
What I’m really talking about when I say “know your core message points” is that you need to take the time to think about the unique benefits that you are offering your clients. What are the 3 or 4 main things that your client can expect to get from you when they hire you and work with you?
These benefits become your central marketing theme and everything you do in the way of marketing hammers these points home. Once you are clear about these points, it becomes very easy to have sales conversations and referral conversations. It is easier to write articles and publish an ezine and to write copy for your website, too.
Once can articulate these benefits clearly, then your clients and prospects will also be clear about them and they, too, can articulate them to others as well as to themselves.
One of my most powerful core message points is that “good guys can (and do) finish FIRST.”
So, my other core message points are:
* Being in business should be fun and not feel like work.
* Being in business is all about creating relationships.
* Being in business is about sharing your talents, resources, and knowledge to better both your clients and your community.
And lastly, it is okay to make money doing what you love.
4. What is your lead generation strategy?
Without people to share your message with, you’ll never have the opportunity to share your talents and knowledge and you’ll lose the opportunity to improve the world.
Finding those people with whom you can share your message is what we call, in the marketing business, lead generation. I call these people prospects. Others like to call them “future customers” or “clients they haven’t met yet.” No matter what you call them, they’re all coming into your life for one reason: so you can let them know that you are the expert that will help them solve their problem and that you are happy for them to pay you to do that.
So one critical marketing step you must think about is how you will attract these leads to your business. Actually, generating leads, or attracting clients, is what I’m always talking about. Now you have the opportunity to narrow all of this information down so you can choose the few things that you will enjoy doing, and that you can and will do consistently, that will attract your ideal clients.
One thing that is easy to do — and I believe to be the most critical thing you can do for generating leads — is to have some way for people to sign up for your mailing list on your website. Without that information, you can never develop a relationship that will allow those site visitors to learn to trust you enough — to know you well enough — to be comfortable enough to actually pay you money.
But, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll already know this is only half that step. You must create something that you can give them in exchange for their personal contact information.
You’ll want to brainstorm and create a list of every way you can think of to reach your niche market and in particular, your ideal clients. Perhaps you can reach them by email, regular mail, direct mail, lumpy mail, public relations efforts, having articles published in other ezines and newsletters or magazines and newspapers, through a network of referral partners and joint ventures, or maybe through networking events both live and virtual.
You’re likely to come up with a combination of these and other ways to attract leads. It’s a good idea to come up with at least one lead generation tactic in each of these areas: advertising (which would include your website, ads you run, postcards and any other direct mail you might do), public relations (which would include press releases, your media kit, articles), and referrals (which includes referrals from clients, joint ventures, referral partners, affiliate plans, etc.).
Put into place at least 3 tactics for lead generation and watch your lists grow and grow.
5. What is your client education process?
As we discussed earlier, you?ll stand a much better chance of converting leads into paying clients if you educate them about what you do, why you do it, and how what you do benefits them.
You need to write down, step-by-step, what you will say or what you will do next when your lead generation strategies work and you start hearing from prospective clients.
What you do if someone comes to you via your website will be different, most likely, than if someone picks up the phone and calls you.
If they come to your website, you want them to sign up for your list and get your free gift for doing so. You’ll also want to guide them through the pages of your site so they can discover more about what you offer and how it benefits them.
If they call you on the phone, you’ll need to be prepared with a list of questions you can ask them, and be prepared to answer their questions. It may be, too, that you need to send these callers even more information before they can make a decision.
One of the biggest mistakes that Soul Proprietors make is in not following-up. People are busy and if they’ve expressed interest in what you offer then you owe it to them — and yourself — to follow up with them in some way so that you provide them with more information and answer their questions.
Here are some things, then, that you might consider as part of your client education process and follow up system when people contact you:
* Send them more information either via email or the regular mail
Send them your regular ezine
Send them an ebook
Send them your printed and bound book
Send them a postcard
Send them a thank you note
Send them to your FAQ page on your website
Book an appointment for over the phone
Arrange to meet in person
Send a referral to them
Have them talk to one of your satisfied clients
Have articles published in magazines and newspapers and trade journals
The list could go on and on so think about the ways that you will educate and follow-up with your prospects and clients. Remember to pay as much attention — maybe more — to your existing clients since it is easier to sell them again than it is to sell to new people.© Copyright 2009 Marty Marsh