by Ilise Benun
The “secret” to a full pipeline of high quality prospects that convert into well-paying projects is actually no secret at all: it just takes steady marketing, day in and day out.
Because you know what happens otherwise…your marketing efforts fly out the window as soon as you get busy, right? Without a system in place, you are haphazard in your efforts, and those efforts yield spotty results, at best.
Of all myriad marketing tools you could use, two generate the highest quality leads. Use them consistently and they will pay off. But don’t expect quick results.
Meeting your prospects in person is, hands down, one of the best ways to make a real impression, to find out what they need and to get their permission to stay in touch. And yet, so many people don’t leave the office or studio to find the places where their prospects gather. Attend meetings or, even better, join a project or committee that will bring you into close contact with your prospects so they can see you in action and get to know you and your work. And don’t forget to ask for the business; don’t expect them to just hand it over.
Wouldn’t it be great if several of your best prospects approached you in their moment of need and said, “I need your help. How can we work together?” This is the essence of “thought leadership” – you present your ideas authoritatively to multiple prospects (live, via webinar, in writing, in the press) so that those who need your services see or hear you and come to you, primed and ready.
Neither of these tools works effectively without a focus on a target market. So don’t invest the time and energy until you are committed to a market. You must get to know the people in that market and the challenges they face. As you begin to help them, you disseminate what you’ve learned more widely so others just like them can find you too.
Two simple but highly effective tools for engaging prospective clients: 1) Engage with them in person, and 2) Position yourself as an expert.
1. Commit to Marketing Monday. Devote one day per week (20% of your time) to business development. Marketing Monday works well because the week is still young (and not yet crazy). But whatever day you choose, protect your time so you can focus on business development until it becomes a habit.
2. Meet Your Prospects In-Person. Whether your networking goal is to attend one event per week or one per month, the key is going where you will meet your prospects, not your peers. Don’t rush to join any groups until you’ve attended a few meetings and feel confident you’ll have the access you need to your target market.
3. Position Yourself as an Expert. You can do one or all of the many “thought leadership” activities, such as writing articles for trade publications or guests posts for industry blogs, give speaking engagements on your area of expertise, get publicity in targeted publications or be on a panel of “experts.”
1. Podcast interview with Beth Brodovsky of Iris Design, in which she talks about how, after being generalists for many years, she and her staff worked together to find their target market and which marketing tools they use to reach that market.
2. The Marketing Mentor Marketing Plan + Calendar for 2011. A pre-fab, customizable marketing plan for creative professionals. It provides daily, weekly, and monthly reminders as well as insight, tips, articles, and extra guidance. Comes in calendar format: both spiral-bound, printed calendar plus electronic eCalendar that syncs to iCal, Google Calendar and more.
3. Marketing Mentor Groups. If you need help staying accountable and on track with your marketing, join one of Marketing Mentor’s virtual mentoring groups where you will learn how to use the most effective marketing tools (including the ones outlined above) while getting help and support from an expert and your creative colleagues as you build your business. Beginner and Advanced Groups offered.