Market By Doing what You Love–NOT What You Hate
One of the worst marketing mistakes a self-employed professional
can make is to create a marketing plan that consists of
activities you don’t enjoy and aren’t good at. There’s no boss
looking over your shoulder, so who’s going to make you do things
you don’t want to? It’s much more likely that a plan you find
distasteful and difficult simply won’t be executed.
Professionals often tell me they don’t like marketing, but many
times I find that what they dislike are the tactics they’ve been
trying to use. A simple change of technique can frequently do
wonders to turn around an anti-marketing attitude. The best
marketing tactics are the ones you will actually perform instead
of avoiding. If a marketing activity makes use of your natural
talents and preferences, you’ll be much more likely to find it
enjoyable, and therefore easy to do.
One of the strongest clues to what might work well for you in
marketing is to notice the type of activities you naturally
choose elsewhere in your life. For example, a client of mine has
been keeping a personal journal and writing regular letters to
friends and family since college. For her, launching a blog to
market her business was a natural choice.
“I was struggling to make those chatty ‘what’s new’ phone calls
people said were a necessity to keep in touch with prospective
clients,” she told me. “I avoided them because they felt so
awkward to me. But the blog is easy. I love writing it, so I
post almost daily. And I know my prospects are reading it
because they post comments. It’s much more rewarding than
leaving voice mail messages no one ever returns.”
One of my students was having a hard time going to networking
events. “It was so uncomfortable for me to walk into a room full
of strangers that I couldn’t even open my mouth,” she recalled.
So she decided to start hosting her own networking mixers. “I
love to entertain,” she explained. “I invite people I already
know and ask each guest to bring someone I don’t know yet and
introduce us. It’s a great way to meet new people, and since
it’s my party, I feel totally at home.”
Remembering your childhood pastimes is another valuable source
of ideas for what might be easy or fun for you in marketing.
When I played alone as a little girl, I would read the
encyclopedia to my dolls. A favorite gift I received as a child
was a whiteboard with markers and a magnetic alphabet. It’s no
wonder I find that the most enjoyable way to market myself today
is by teaching classes and workshops.
I have a colleague who was voted “most loquacious” in high
school. Today he builds his business largely by schmoozing with
prospects on the phone. “I just love talking to people,” he
affirms. “For me, writing marketing copy or a sales letter is
challenging, so I’ll put it off for days or weeks. But when I
pick up the phone, I feel like I know what I’m doing. So I’ll
zip through a dozen calls in a single morning.”
My talkative friend has won awards for his sales ability. But if
you or I tried to emulate his success by copying his techniques,
we could fail dramatically. For him, these activities are
natural and fully within his comfort zone, so he succeeds at
them effortlessly. For those of us who aren’t quite so
gregarious by nature, we might stutter and stumble our way
through calls like these, making a poor impression, or find them
so onerous we just don’t make them at all.
Of course, it’s not always possible to be completely comfortable
when marketing ourselves. We may wish to stretch our existing
abilities in order to ultimately become more effective at making
calls, writing letters, attending meetings, speaking in public,
or whatever activities we currently find particularly hard to
do. If this is true for you, absolutely include in your
marketing plan one or two challenging areas where you would like
to practice so you can improve.
But be sure to also include a healthy complement of tactics
you’re already good at and enjoy using. If your marketing plan
contains more enjoyment and less struggle, you’ll work the plan
instead of hiding from it. And when you do that, you’ll stay in
business long enough to have plenty of time to learn new
marketing skills and expand your comfort zone.
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now! Thousands of business owners and salespeople have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at www.getclientsnow.com.