Do you find marketing to be a constant struggle? It doesn’t have to be that way. The most successful marketers make it look easy because they have found a way to market themselves that is effortless. Perhaps you have tried to copy what those successful people were doing, and it didn’t work for you. Here’s why.
Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You have to find your own unique path, the one that works best for you and your business. To make marketing easy, that path needs to be the one where you will encounter the least resistance — both from the marketplace and from inside yourself.
Here are six steps to put you on the road to effortless marketing:
- Be willing to let go of struggle. You may believe you want marketing to be easier, but stop and think for a moment. Is there some part of you that is attached to making things difficult? Is there a secret payoff you get from trying so hard? Whenever you find yourself struggling about marketing, pause and ask yourself, “How could this be easy?”
- Market to the people you like, and who like you. A colleague once told me I would never earn a living marketing my services to solo entrepreneurs. “You have to focus on getting corporate clients,” she said. “Then you can afford to work with entrepreneurs once in a while.”
Thank goodness I didn’t listen to her. Maybe that was the formula that worked for HER business, but it’s not where my heart was. One of the reasons I became self-employed was to spend more time working in non-corporate environments. If I had followed her advice, I would have failed miserably.
- Start with the people who are ready for your message. Yes, there is an entire population out there who would hire you if only you could make them understand what it is you offer and how you can help them. You can make educating those people part of your long-term mission. But in the meantime, you need to make the car payment.
Seek out the customers who are most likely to already understand the value of what you do. If you are a reflexologist, you need to be speaking at the Whole Life Expo instead of at the Chamber of Commerce. If you offer a workshop on corporate ethics, network with members of Businesses for Social Responsibility instead of the Millionaires Circle.
- Choose marketing strategies that match who you are. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a mediocre cold caller. It just doesn’t fit my personal style. So I focus on the strategies that are natural to me — speaking, writing, and networking to build referrals. I’ve consistently maintained a full practice that way for over ten years now.
One of my clients is also a business coach who targets solo entrepreneurs. Her business is identical to mine, but her personality is completely different. She loves to cold call, and has been able to fill her practice that way. Speaking and networking don’t come naturally to her at all. It’s a good thing she didn’t try to copy me.
- Find people who can pay what you need to charge. If you persist in marketing to people who can’t pay your fee, you will encounter not just resistance, but a brick wall. Don’t give up because it seems that no one in the population you want to serve has any money. You have to look for the intersection between your chosen market and people who have enough resources to hire you.
Colleagues have told me that people suffering from life-threatening illnesses, or recovering from substance abuse, can’t or won’t pay for professional coaching. But I have had several people in these situations as full-fee clients. The intersection is that they were also entrepreneurs. People say you can’t make money working with teens, but I have had many clients who do — as life coaches, private tutors, psychologists, and professional speakers. The intersection they found was teens with well-to-do parents, or schools with funds obtained from grants and corporate sponsors.
- Pay attention to how people respond to hearing about your business, whether or not you are marketing to them. A client of mine used to be a computer skills trainer. When she talked about her work, people nodded politely. But what she really wanted to do was teach public speaking. When she began to talk about that idea, her listeners got excited.
The difference wasn’t in the content of her message — public speaking can be just as dry a topic as computer software. It was her own enthusiasm for the work that attracted such a positive response. If you really want your marketing to be effortless, you need to be in a business that excites YOU.
Five Ways to Keep Your Marketing Up When You Feel Down
Even the best marketing doesn’t always pay off quickly. In the lag time between when you launch a marketing campaign for your business and when you start to see results from it, it’s easy to become discouraged. Especially when you work mostly solo, it can be a difficult task to keep yourself motivated about marketing when there isn’t an immediate payoff.
Once your marketing does begin to work, you may still encounter times when it’s hard to keep it going. You may become overloaded with client work and feel like there’s not enough time to market. Sometimes you may feel blue and begin to wonder if any of your efforts are worthwhile. Or it may just be that marketing isn’t your favorite thing to do. When you are full of energy and enthusiasm you can get it done, but when your spirits are low, it all seems too hard.
Here are five ways to give your marketing a lift when you are feeling down.
- Make your to-do list shorter. When faced with an impossible task, most of us feel discouraged. But when we believe we can accomplish what is in front of us, we are often more likely to get going on it.
If you feel overwhelmed by everything you SHOULD do about marketing, tear up your to-do list. Then start a new list, and put just three items on it. When you complete one of the three, cross it out and celebrate, then add a new item. You’ll feel much less stressed and more productive when you’re faced with a less daunting agenda. You’ll probably get more done by planning to do less.
- Calendar your marketing time. When you’re feeling discouraged or resistant about marketing, it’s easy for the time to slip away while you work on other things. This is also true when paying clients are keeping you busy. You know you need to keep marketing to avoid a famine when the current feast of work is over, but it’s just not happening.
Make an appointment with yourself for a specific block of time to work on marketing, and treat it as seriously as if it were a client meeting. Set an alarm if you need a reminder. If you find that you are still pulled to other tasks during your marketing time, change the location where you do your work. Move to another room in your home, to a conference room in your office building, to a nearby park, or to a café. A new setting can remove distractions and sharpen your focus.
- Spend just five minutes. If your current mindset is that marketing is hard or distasteful, you may find that getting started on marketing tasks is the most difficult part. Commit to spending just five minutes on marketing, and see what happens. You may discover that once you get going, you won’t want to stop.
If you do stall out again after five minutes, don’t despair. Take a break or work on something else for a while. Then try another five minutes later on. The following day, see if you can work up to ten minutes at a time, then fifteen minutes, and so on. Just as if this were a new exercise program, you may need to start out with brief periods of effort and increase them gradually as you build your strength.
- Connect with a fan. Sometimes the best place to look for motivation is outside yourself. Who are the people in your life that you would consider your champions? Make contact with someone you can count on to be positive about your abilities. This could be a friend, family member, colleague, or coach. Ask your champion to remind you of other times when you have overcome obstacles and accomplished goals, so you can get back in touch with what you are capable of.
If no live champions are at hand, spend some time reading your fan mail. Track down any letters or testimonials you have collected from clients you have helped in the past. Reviewing their acknowledgments will make you feel better about yourself and inspire you to do more great work in the future. When you’re inspired by the value you bring your clients, you’ll feel more enthusiastic about getting new clients to work with.
- Revisit your purpose. In the press of multiple tasks and deadlines, it’s easy to lose track of why you are doing all this anyway. Spend some time reconnecting with why you went into business in the first place. Who were the people you wanted to help? What personal goals were you trying to achieve? What was your vision of a successful business?
Holding a clear mental picture of your intended destination can keep you on the path to get there during challenging times. Every time you have to place a sales call, write a marketing letter, or take on a difficult promotional task, visualize the positive results these tasks will help you achieve. Keeping your goals in mind when you tackle tough jobs helps you constantly remember the reasons you’re willing to work so hard.
In an ideal world, of course, we would get all our marketing tasks accomplished with ease and confidence within the time we have available. But since that’s not the world most of us live in, consider that doing ANYTHING about marketing is better than doing nothing. In the long run, you’ll want to have a comprehensive marketing plan with an appropriate amount of time and effort dedicated to it. But when you get stuck, what you need most is just to get going again.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed, resistant, or discouraged about marketing, try one of these quick fixes to jump start your marketing engine. The simple act of getting things rolling will make you start to feel more positive again about your marketing, your business, and yourself.
© 2007 – 2014, C.J. Hayden. All rights reserved.