Learn and Apply These 7 Principles if You Want to Attract More Clients.
These 7 Marketing Principles have been developed over several years of working with Independent Professionals. Marketing can be confusing and overwhelming. Where do you start? What do you do? These 7 principles are a great starting point. As you learn and implement them into your marketing, you'll get more attention and interest from prospects and ultimately turn them into great clients who you love to work with.
Marketing is a Game
As an Independent Professional, you need to attract clients to your business.
Attracting clients can either be a burden or a game.
If marketing is a burden, it's something you'll avoid, resist and probably fail at.
If you make marketing a game, you'll learn the "moves and the plays" that will enable you to get the attention of prospective clients, interact with them about your business, and ultimately convert them into great clients whom you love to work with.
Whether you attract clients through traditional marketing activities such as networking, speaking and publishing or through online marketing such as a website, email newsletter, blog or social media, the game is essentially the same.
Here's the essentials of the game: Marketing is a game of communication. Your job is to communicate in the most appropriate ways possible to get the attention and interest of your prospects. The more you communicate, the more the relationship and trust builds. When you've generated enough interest and trust in you and your services the prospect may become ready to explore working with you. That's when marketing transitions into selling.
You can look at this as a multi-step process. It's hard to get the attention of strangers, so marketing to those you have some affiliation with is a good place to start - organizations, communities (online and off), professional associations, etc. Then your job is to get attention with your marketing message. When you really have someone's attention, they typically want to know more. So you provide more information in the form of an article, web content, a blog or regular eZine. Over time familiarity and trust builds enough so they want to know more. Then you give your prospects an experience of you through a talk, teleclass, webinar or simply getting to know them better. It's then a lot easier to set up selling conversations with prospects who are ready to explore working with you.
That, in a nutshell is the game of marketing!
Your Marketing Mindset
Not only is there an Outer Game of Marketing, there's an Inner Game as well. The inner game of marketing is about your attitude or mindset about marketing.
And like everything else in life, you attitude and mindset determine how you approach something and whether or not you succeed at it.
Marketing (and selling as well) are particularly challenging activities. Why? Because there is always the possibility of rejection. When you put out your message and present your services there's always a good chance that people won't be interested.
As a result, a great number of Independent Professionals tend to avoid or resist marketing activities (such as writing, speaking or following-up). They find these activities very difficult to get to and easy to put off.
What if it was possible to completely change your mindset about marketing and embrace marketing activities instead of avoiding them?
Here's where you start: You want to do something in marketing, but you feel very resistant, even fearful about moving forward. And underneath that resistance and fear is a thought or belief - something like, "if I write this article, nobody will like it and I'll make a fool of myself." And corresponding icky feelings tag along.
What we usually do is listen to our feelings and thoughts and see them as true. "If I'm feeling this way, it must be true. If I put myself out there with this article I will be rejected and I can't stand the thought of that." And that is the definition of STUCK!
Often we try really hard, get past the resistance and finally write the damn article, but never feel very enthusiastic about it. Over time we discover that some people actually like the article and the rejection we expected didn't come. So things shift and after some time, we get comfortable writing articles for our business.
But what if there was a shortcut past resistance? There is. It's called "inquiry." That is, we question the limiting beliefs underneath those resistant feelings. Is it really true that nobody will like the article and you'll make a fool of yourself? Er, perhaps not. And when you think about it that way, what are the consequences? Well, you feel bad, resistance, fearful. You do a lot of stuff to avoid writing the article. You tell yourself you're worthless and you feel desperate about your marketing. Heavy stuff! And what is the cost of thinking that way? The cost is never moving an inch in your marketing, not attracting clients and staying stuck indefinitely.
Well since you now realize that this thought is probably not even true, you can start to explore alternatives. Isn't this belief more realistic: "Some people will like the article and some might even think I'm smart for writing it." Usually an alternate belief is just as true, if not truer. It's certainly more empowering. And this new thinking opens up new possibilities, more creativity and less holding back and resistance. So instead of taking months to get over your resistance, you find you can do it in an hour or so.
This work on Marketing Mindsets can have a more profound impact on your Marketing Effectiveness than anything else.
Your Marketing Message
A Marketing Message is the first thing you communicate to your prospective clients.
A message is designed to get attention, generate interest and get your prospect to respond to find out more about your business.
Unfortunately, the majority of marketing messages don't accomplish that.
You want a marketing message that conveys what prospects will get if they work with you. A marketing message shouldn't be just a label (I'm a business coach) or a process (I offer business coaching services) but should convey a desirable result that is wanted by the prospect.
Once you have an effective marketing message, you'll be able to build your whole business around it. A marketing message isn't just a clever sound bite, it's what you stand for, and it becomes the foundation for all the professional services you offer.
Here's how to start to build your message: Think of your message as a "four component system." When you've worked out all the components, you will be communicating effectively about your business. The first component is your target market or what I like to call your "ideal client." Who exactly is this ideal client? It it a CEO of a multinational company or a middle aged woman going through a difficult life transition? You want to describe this ideal client in excruciating detail until you can say confidently, "Yes, this is who I want to work with and this is someone I can help through my professional services.
The second component of your message is the problem, predicament or pain your ideal client is experiencing. What's not working for them? Where are they stuck? What do they need to know and understand? What's missing for them? What can't they do on their own? Remember, nobody is going to hire you unless they have an issue or challenge that's not being met.
The third component of your message is the solution or outcome you provide. This is kind of like the mirror-image of the problem. This is what they get if they work with you. These are the goods you deliver. This is what solves their problem, predicament or pain and leave them thrilled with how you've made a difference in their business or life.
Finally, the fourth component is proof. And often the best way to offer proof is through stories or case studies of those ideal clients you've worked with. What was their condition when you started working with them? How specifically did you help them? And what is their condition, now that you've worked your magic.
Put all four components together and you have a powerful Marketing Message that becomes the centerpiece of your marketing.
Since marketing is 100% communication, verbal interaction or marketing conversations are essential to marketing.
It's unusual that a client would start working with you without talking to you first.
But what should you say about your business and services? And how do you move a conversation into a deeper exploration of how you might provide your professional services?
Marketing conversations are actually more about listening than talking. Once you have someone's attention, you want to find out about their situation, goals and challenges. And if a prospect asks you questions, you need to know what to say succinctly and with impact.
These days there is so much talk about list building and lead generation that we often neglect how we'll actually interact with that lead. Most prospects don't come completely pre-sold, so mastering marketing conversations (which includes follow-up) is essential to growing your business.
Here are some keys to successful marketing conversations: Be interested more than interesting. We talk about listening but usually give it lip service. When someone asks about our business, it's not unusual that we can't stop ourselves from talking... and talking... and talking. All this does is create resistance. It does the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.
Instead, learn to ask good questions and show genuine interest. If they're a business person, ask how they started their business, what the love about it the most and what their challenges are. If they ask questions about what you do, answer briefly and then go back to asking questions. When you answer questions, tell stories, instead of giving a lot of conceptual information.
If a conversation results in some interest from the person you're speaking to, don't just exchange cards at the end of the conversation; that usually goes nowhere. Make a specific request. That may mean offering some information in the form of an article or if they called you to find out about your business, offer a more in-depth conversation (which I call Strategy Sessions) where you can find out more about their needs and tell them about what you do in more depth.
Every time you speak to someone it's a potential marketing conversation. Listen, be interested and ask.
Your Marketing Content
Think of marketing content as anything written about your business, from an article to a website to a blog post.
These days marketing content is more important than ever.
Your prospects want to "check you out" online before they contact you, so having the right content is key.
Great content provides valuable information and clearly explains what clients get when they work with you. Prospects want to know the following: who you work with, how you work, the results you produce, and your experience and background. And they also want "free stuff."
Free information in the form of web content, articles, blogs, email newsletters, audios and videos all accomplish the same result: They build that all-important know-like-trust factor that makes them feel more comfortable calling you when they need assistance.
Here are a few keys to developing effective marketing content: Don't be stingy with your information. These days information is so pervasive online that people want real depth and insights from what they read, especially if they are considering hiring you. Don't hold back your best stuff; put it all out there. Remember, your clients will hire you for your expertise and ability to produce results, so even though you share copious amounts of information, it still can't substitute for your experience and ability to deliver the goods.
Many websites of independent professionals are rather thin in overall content. You want to tell a compete story about your business, one that answers almost every question. You want to talk about who you work with, how you work and give in-depth information on your various services. You want case studies, blog posts, a great bio and detailed instructions on how to contact you.
But most importantly, you want to offer an opt-in for more information in the form of a valuable article or report. If you are lucky enough to have someone visit your site, you don't want to lose the ability to connect with them later. Put the opt-in information front and center, not on a hidden, dark corner of your site. And then develop an eZine (email newsletter) to keep providing valuable information.
Marketing Content is never-ending. It never stops until the day you close your business. Keep writing!
Marketing Strategies & Plans
The marketing game, mindset, message, conversations and content provide the solid foundation for your marketing.
However, it's marketing strategies and plans that get the word out.
The question is, what marketing strategies will you ultimately use to promote your services?
Marketing Strategies are proactive, not passive. When you implement a marketing plan, you reach out, you invite, you ask for action. You don't sit around waiting for prospects to find you! But what marketing strategies work best for Independent Professionals? And where do you start?
The most effective marketing strategies make a direct and personal connection. And these days, the traditional marketing strategies are coupled with online strategies: Live networking + social media, publishing + direct emails, speaking + teleclasses and webinars.
Here are a few pointers for implementing marketing strategies. A marketing strategy is a particular vehicle for getting the word out about your business. And a Marketing Action Plan is a campaign to push that strategy out there in a consistent and persistent way. To implement a marketing action plan, you need clarity, focus, organization and follow-through. Every plan consists of dozens of step-by-step actions executed efficiently and effectively.
Even if your main marketing strategies are networking and speaking, you still need a detailed written plan of what to do and when you'll do it. If you don't have a plan, marketing becomes completely random. You do a little here and a little there and you find yourself running around in circles, getting no momentum.
When you implement an organized plan the results can be amazing. In 1995 I launched an organized plan to speak to professional organizations. I prepared my materials, contacted the organization and followed up like a dog with a bone. I gave about 8 talks over a few months and attracted 26 clients in 26 weeks. In 2009, at the height of the financial crash, I launched a group program and filled the program to capacity 4 years in a row, generating almost a million in sales.
Pick a strategy, make a plan and go to work. It's the only way I know to get clients consistently.
Selling is a very important part of the whole marketing process.
However, it's too bad that selling is so misunderstood.
It might be better to think of selling as "exploring possibilities." Selling conversations happen when a prospect is ready to explore working with you.
Selling is not a manipulative process. Just the opposite, in fact. In a selling conversation you mostly ask questions and listen to determine if your prospect really needs assistance and if you are able to ethically provide that assistance. Pressure of any kind only backfires.
Learning an effective selling process is understanding the sensitive dynamics of finding the right fit. What exactly should you ask? How should you explain your services? How do you close, confirm and ask for the money? Sounds simple, but many Independent Professionals really struggle with this.
Here are some of the most important things I've learned about selling. There's a saying that everyone likes to buy, but nobody likes to be sold to. That is, people don't like to be pressured or manipulated in any way shape or form. So you need to think of the selling conversation as something that is relaxed and fun, an exploration, not a session of arm twisting.
In selling conversations, like marketing conversations, I put all the attention on the prospective client and get really interested. I ask a lot of questions and go really deep. I don't just want to know about their challenges, but why those are challenges, what they've done to address them and what worked and didn't work. It's only through this kind of exploration that you can discover if you can help your prospect or not.
Once you've asked your questions you should present your solutions. And this needs to be done in a very organized, systematic way. You spend much less time presenting than listening. For instance, you might say, if you are an executive coach, "We'll meet weekly by telephone for about 90 minutes. In this session we'll focus on what you're working on, where you're stuck and what you need to do next to move things forward. I'll provide ideas, information and resources as needed." Something like that. And then before you explain the next thing that's included in your coaching, make sure to "close: on the previous one. "Does that make sense" or "Any questions?" You do this to get buy in step-by-step. If you don't close every step of the way so that you're complete on every point, you may find your prospect lost in a point you talked about ten minutes ago.
In the final close, you want to separate the clients desire to work with you from the fee for the service. You might say, "Based on everything we've discussed today, can you see yourself succeeding with this coaching program?" If they say, "yes," then they have bought the program, at least conceptually. Only then do you talk price. "The fee for this program is $1,00 per month with a minimum of three months. Will that work for your budget right now?" And if they say yes, you have sold the program.
Effective selling is trickier than it looks. If you want to sell higher-end services, you must master the selling process.
Understanding These Principles
Understanding and applying these 7 Marketing Principles are the key to marketing success for Independent Professionals. They are both simple and deep. You can grasp the concepts in minutes, yet it can takes years to master them. But you've got to start somewhere.
Start with the Marketing Plan Workbook, with exercises and worksheets to help build your marketing plan And then check out the More Clients Club with in-depth tutorials, courses, inerviews and coaching calls to help you put your markeitng into action.