By Robert Middleton – Action Plan Marketing
One early September many years ago I thought that business would start to pick up now that summer had ended.
But it didn't. Nothing happened.
It was then that I realized an inconvenient marketing truth:
Most new business doesn't just happen by itself, no matter the time of year. And it didn't happen because I wasn't making it happen.
I wasn't being visible, getting the word out, promoting anything, or following up with prospective or past clients. I was just sitting there.
No, I had fallen back on the now famous "Prayer Marketing Strategy." This strategy is quite simple: Do the very best work you can for your existing clients and then at night pray that they'll send you some good referrals.
Sounds like a fantasy, but it's actually the most common marketing strategy for Independent Professionals!
Those who have a steady stream of new clients are doing things to regularly generate attention and interest in their services. They understand that most of their prospective clients don't wake up every day thinking about them.
I'm often amazed at how simple some of those ways of generating attention and interest can be.
One of my current clients, a focus group moderator, in my Marketing Mastery program, joined the program when her business had started a downward slide.
One of the problems was that a company that had given her a lot of business in the past wasn't sending her any new business. Why? She had been removed from their vendor list when a new manager took over.
The strategy we developed was simple. She would start actively networking with her past contacts in the company and inquire about new connections. She had coffee and lunch with a number of people, pitched the value of her services, and a few months later found herself back on the approved vendor list for focus group moderators.
In August (yes, in the middle of summer), she got three new substantial contracts with that company.
There are always creative ways to make new connections, have conversations, explore working together and get new business.
In a nutshell, here is a three-step process for that.
1. Clearly identify your ideal clients - whether they be large companies or individuals. Understand their needs and how you could offer service.
2. Get your marketing message and written materials into place (articles, website, etc.) to help you feel confident about communicating to your prospects.
3. Come up with an outreach plan to get in front of these prospects. This could be a combination of networking, speaking, email marketing or all three.
An effective plan will rarely be based on social media or content marketing. Those passive marketing approaches help to create your foundation, visibility and credibility but don't usually result in immediate selling conversations.
Instead, you want proactive strategies designed to get prospects to respond and that lead to selling conversations as soon as possible with those who can use your services.
Proactive marketing campaigns might look like these:
– Inviting everyone you know for a complimentary introductory coaching session. One of my clients went "all-in" on this and set up 120 appointments!
– Connecting with every good past client you know and asking them for referrals. A client of mine is successfully doing this with some clients he worked with 20 years ago.
– Promoting an eight-part live program for wellness. A therapist client did this, generated a lot of positive word-of-mouth and now finds herself with a completely full practice.
– Booking talks at industry conferences by using his existing connections. My client, a strategy consultant, generates leads from those talks that he turns into in-house presentations. And about 90% of those presentations result in $100K strategy projects.
– Giving a special offer that’s hard to turn down. Tomorrow I'm inviting everyone on my list to give the More Clients Club a test drive with a $1 membership for the first month.
Large or small, these proactive marketing approaches leverage relationships, offer substantial value and give your prospective clients reasons to work with you.
Don't pray for referrals and don't be passive. Be proactive by inviting people to respond, participate, and take action to find how they can get even more value from you.
And all of these work, no matter what time of year it is.
Cheers, Robert Middleton