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Does your Marketing Plan Need an Overhaul?

“If you orient your entire business to serving customers, you will be more successful.  This means you don’t sell your services. Rather, you use your skills to help customers meet their needs.”  (Rick Crandall, Ph.D.)

Do you find yourself constantly asking yourself where the clients are and why you’re having so much trouble finding them?

The first step is to assess your marketing plan.  If you don’t have a written action plan, that’s your highest priority.  If you do have one, are you actually using it?  How do you track its effectiveness?  When was the last time you upgraded your strategies?

Before you do anything else, you need to figure out where in the marketing cycle you’re under-performing.

  1. Is your business clearly defined?
    • What problems do you solve?
    • Who are the people you serve? (Hint:  “anybody” is NOT a good answer)
    • What products and/or services do you offer?
    • What sets you apart from your competition?
  2. Do you struggle to have a consistent level of potential clients in the pipeline?
    • Do you have written materials that describe your services?
    • Do you have a website that clearly explains your services?  (Tip:  Ask a few colleagues to look at your home page and ask them to describe what you do.  You might be surprised by the responses you get).
    • Do you have a robust social media profile/page?
    • Do you have a targeted prospect list? (You can buy a list, use association directories, collect business cards at networking events, ask for referrals, do a google or Linkedin search, etc.)
  3. Have you created a robust “keep in touch” program and do you use it daily, week, and monthly? Do you have a stack of business cards on your desk that you’ve forgotten about?  Do you accept Linkedin connections without actually reading the person’s profile and scanning their contacts?  On average, you may need to connect with a potential client 6-10 times, if not more (thanks to spam filters and information overload), before she decides to work with or buy from you.  Implementing a simple “keep in touch” program can significantly increase your long-term sales conversion.  
    • Develop a contact management system (even if it’s just an Excel spreadsheet) and add contact information for everyone you meet.
    • Create one-sheet descriptions of your services and send to potential clients/customers.
    • Once you’ve made contact with a prospective client, place him in one of three possible sales horizons and plan your follow up strategy to match your best-guess sales timeline:
      • Short-term (approximately one to 90 days)
      • Mid-term (90 to 180 days)
      • Long-term (longer than 180 days)
    •  Your keep in touch program might include:
      • Follow up email acknowledging your initial meeting/conversation
      • Handwritten thank you note
      • Send a Linkedin Connection
      • Invite them for breakfast, lunch, or coffee when you know you’ll be in their neighborhood
      • Invitation to a free workshop you’re offering
      • Invite them to sign up for your free report or weekly e-newsletter
      • Mail them a limited time discount on your services
      • Acknowledge their professional successes (and challenges)!
      • Offer to connect them to someone in your network
  4. Uncomfortable Having the Dreaded Sales Conversation? Never forget that when you are self-employed, your technical expertise means nothing without clients.  Until you have all the clients you can/want to handle, most days you need to see yourself as Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Sales.  Build your sales muscles by:
    • Creating a strong telemarketing script
    • Create a short list of qualifying questions to help you determine which prospects are likely candidates for your services
    • Spend an hour each week doing some competitive research so you have an edge on your competition
    • Consider a change to your service offerings (Tip:  It’s wise to determine what clients are actually buying and at what price points.  Rather than lowering your prices, maybe you can offer different levels of service.)
  5. Can’t seem to close the sale?
    • Refer back to your “keep in touch” plan.  Maybe your prospect needs more exposure to you before they decide to work with you.
    • Compile references and testimonials from former clients
    • Depending on your services, you may need to develop more examples of your work:  case studies, white papers, videos, etc.
    • Practice your sales script with a colleague or mastermind partner and ask for feedback.

Each stage in the marketing cycle is important.  For the best results in the shortest amount of time, focus on the one aspect that you find most challenging.

This week’s call to action:

Take one action to UPGRADE your marketing process.

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