Marketing Voodoo: The most promising strategies for growing your business

A few weeks ago during a radio show interview, I was explaining to the interviewer what’s involved in understanding your customers, connecting powerfully with them, creating compelling offers that they want to buy, and implementing effective grassroots campaigns for growing your relationship with prospects.

“So what do you say to the person who says, that’s a lot of work … I don’t want to do all of that.”

“Um, get a job.”

No, I didn’t say that. “Business is for gladiators,” I replied. If you want to be successful as a business owner, you’re going to need an incredible work ethic and steely resolve to persevere when the going gets tough. It has, it does, and it will.

When people talk to me about their struggles growing their businesses, I sometimes feel like they have a secret longing: they want marketing voodoo. They want me to show them how to wave a magic wand that will outline an easy, step-by-step marketing plan that will bring droves of clients to their doorstep.

I wish.

There is no magic wand when it comes to effective marketing.

I know that’s disappointing. After all, who wouldn’t like to get their hands on some sassy marketing voodoo? But the truth is, creating the right mix of offers and strategies that connect powerfully with your target market and escort them down the sales funnel to official customer status requires a lot of work.

I often say that the power of marketing is in sequencing: doing the right things in the right order. Once you bust this riddle, you’ll notice your sales funnel getting traction, more clients coming on board and your marketing efforts will pay off tenfold.

The best marketing voodoo I can share is what I believe is the fundamental goal of good marketing: setting the proper conditions to ensure that the people who would benefit most from your services know how you can help them solve their problems, alleviate their pain, take them to the promised land, in that very moment when they realize their need (because it hurts, or they acknowledge they’re tired of being stuck, or something comes up that makes change a MUST).

I created the Marketing Triad to help my clients understand the most important strategies independent professionals should put in place FIRST.

The triad includes three groups of strategies: Networking, Visibility Strategies and Grassroots Strategies. Here are a few examples of each:

Networking Strategies
· Local Meetings
· Trade Shows & Conferences
· Referrals & Strategic Alliances
· Telemarketing / Follow-up
· Social Networking

Visibility Strategies
· Local Showcases
· Speaking at Conferences
· Teleseminars / Webinars
· SEO / SEM (Web Marketing)

Grassroots Strategies
· Database / Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
· Follow-up Marketing
· Direct Mail
· Email Marketing
· VIP Lists

Determining the mix for your Marketing Triad is crucial to your marketing success, as these are the core strategies you should mobilize to sell your knowledge and expertise.

Start with networking and visibility strategies. Determine where you can go, who you can present to, to help you build a list of prospects whose needs are a match for your services. Get yourself booked, pencil key networking opportunities into your calendar, begin to connect with the marketplace. Maintain and nurture those relationships through Grassroots Strategies, drawing them into your sales funnel, all the while building TRUST.

How do I find someone to market for me?

“I need to find someone to market for me.” I heard this twice last week. And I’ve heard it dozens, if not hundreds, of times before when talking with the coaches, speakers and other experts. “If someone else would just do the marketing for me—and I’ll pay them!— my business and life would be perfect.”

Ahhhh, wouldn’t that be great? I mean, I agree with the sentiment, though the reality is that I don’t know ANY successful independent professional that just shows up and collects a check. It just doesn’t work that way.

No one can connect with your prospects like you can

To be successful in this business, you have to learn to be comfortable talking to prospects about what they’re struggling with and articulating how you can help. No one is going to connect as powerfully with the people you serve than you. An assistant isn’t you. He or she isn’t going to be able to intuit and navigate the challenges your prospects are facing like you can.

You can’t be disconnected and market yourself successfully

Oftentimes, the reasons people have trouble marketing themselves is they haven’t take the time to really understand who they serve, why the marketplace needs them, and how they need to package themselves to connect. It’s a pipe dream to think that you can somehow disconnect from this process of figuring things out and leave the “heavy lifting” to others. I mean, uncovering these distinctions radically changes how you deliver your content and how you serve your clients. Being disconnected from the process means that you aren’t making the necessary adjustments to how you deliver, and I believe this incongruence is pretty much the number one reason people struggle to get their businesses off the ground.

Now, you can get help finding leads, you can often set up systems to manage your grassroots marketing (newsletters, blog posts, etc), and you may even be able to find help networking. But at the end of the day, marketing your business successfully to a closed deal doesn’t often happen without your involvement.

Be involved in building your marketing strategy

This often comes up when I start working with a new client – I won’t take a client on who just wants us to figure everything out for them and “do all the marketing.” While we have a great team of people who DO help our clients with marketing, we can’t “figure things out” without the client’s involvement in strategy and content creation; oftentimes, the work we do serves as a backdrop for our clients as they interface with the marketplace and close deals.

In my last post, we talked about asking ourselves the powerful question, Who must I become to successfully complete this quest? One of the answer is: you must become comfortable talking to people about your business, and engaging with others to create powerful strategies for connecting with the marketplace and resolving problems.  If you feel resistance to engaging in this way, go deeper. Introspectively examine why, understand your own psychology so you can break through.

In Scott Jeffrey’s post, Letting Go of Resistance, he explains:

All of your emotional upsets—personal and professional—represent points of resistance. Problems become pervasive when we hold negative emotions related to them. What does this mean? An event is just an event. We tend, however, to project our own meaning onto events. If an event doesn’t go as planned, as our projected ideal said it should, we are upset.

But the event itself is neither “good” or “bad.” We’ve all had things happen that seemed “bad” at the time but turned out to be a blessing later on.

If we accept that things are the way they are—without wanting to change how they are in the moment—we let go of our resistance and allow things to be. In doing so, we can enter a state of flow where we are more resourceful and better equipped to navigate life’s challenges.

Embrace marketing your business as an opportunity for you to truly make your work indispensable and to connect powerfully with those you are called to serve.

Question:  Are you engaged with the marketing of your business?  What do you believe about marketing yourself that locks you up?

What if your marketing isn’t working?

I got an email today from a local coach who was referred to me by a colleague. Her dilemma: she’s having trouble getting business (“I’m having trouble marketing myself as a coach”) and doesn’t have much money for marketing. Can I help?

Have I ever heard this one a thousand times.

Just yesterday, I was talking to one of my copywriters about a significant challenge we see among “vendors” of marketing services–they either help a client get the message right but the client doesn’t know how to market the message well, or they help the client get the “marketing” right, but it doesn’t produce results because the message is crapola.

First the Message, then the Marketing

You can’t be successful with only one of these approaches. You have to get your message right, and you have to get the marketing of the message right. In that order, of course.

Marketing successfully relies on the convergence of a few key conditions:

  • Solid understanding of your market (who they are, what’s frustrating them, what they need)
  • Awareness of what makes your work relevant and special
  • Marketing efforts aligned with how they organize themselves and / or how they search for solutions (examples: speaking at association meetings, articles submissions in reputable directories with the right keywords, networking at events to build your relationships that can give you referrals)

During the first month of our relationship, one of my clients, who is a brilliant business coach and consultant, kept asking me the question, “But how do I explain what I do?”

My answer? No one cares about what you do, so why bother trying to explain it. (More on this in an upcoming blog post.)

It’s true. People don’t care about you, or what you do. It’s small talk. They care about themselves, their frustrations, their deadlines and pressures.

What do Quality Conversations have to do with Good Marketing?

To be successful at marketing to them, you have to get good at having conversations that reveal to people that you have answers. A conversation is simply an exchange of communication and can take place under many different scenarios: you talking to someone one-on-one, you in front of the room talking to an audience (or on a teleseminar or webinar), you talking to your “followers” through Twitter or your blog (to name a few).

And you’re not having a conversation about you. You’re having a conversation about them:

  • Here’s what you’re facing.
  • Here’s what’s frustrating about it.
  • And here’s what you’ve tried to do that didn’t work.
  • Here’s why it didn’t work.
  • And here’s what WILL work.

If you’re giving a speech, you do the talking; if you’re having a conversation, let them tell you their “problems.” Listen well, mirror back what they’re saying, then engage with the dilemma. Ask key questions. Offer a suggestion that might be helpful, should they invite your perspective.

Nothing about that conversation requires you to have a job title or a one-liner or a compelling speech “selling someone” on how brilliant you are. Let other people ramble on about themselves. Be the guy or girl who listens well and flat solves problems – a little mystery about what to call you only adds to the allure. 😉 (I’ll talk more about this in my next blog post.)

You can learn more about positioning yourself so that marketing is “effortless” by downloading my free special report: Manipulation-free Marketing: Position yourself right so that marketing works.

Question: What is your biggest marketing or positioning frustration? What have you done to create breakthroughs that make marketing yourself easier?

Speakers & Coaches: Setting Goals in the New Year

I attended a Tennessee Coaches Alliance meeting today, where the topic of the luncheon was (fittingly) goal-setting for the new year.  I’ve been working on lining up my goals for the last several months, and something about this meeting really inspired me to make sure that I’m framing my goals for the year in terms of the results I want to create.

It’s so easy to make lists and keep ourselves busy, yet busyness doesn’t necessarily translate into growing our businesses.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen speakers and coaches arbitrarily filling their schedules up with busyness that “feels” productive; yet they aren’t seeing key results like more clients and more income (which is what most of us ultimately want!).

Tony Robbins is probably the master, in my book, on teaching you how to leveraging time to create the specific outcomes you care about most.  As you contemplate the results you want to achieve this year in your business, make sure you are framing them as specific, measurable outcomes.  You might have a goal of generating a $250,000 income in your business, for example.  Working backwards, you should be able to determine how many clients you’ll need in each profit center, and how to best execute your marketing strategy to produce those clients.

Also, consider that for speakers, authors, coaches and consultants, a solid Marketing Gameplan is built around the Marketing Triad:  three primary strategies (Networking, Visibility and Grassroots Marketing) designed to help us: attract prospects [Marketing Mavens (sign up free!) can review the Marketing Triad here; you can also learn more about the Marketing Triad in the How Should I Market Myself program], fill our pipeline, and convert prospects to customers.

Once our Triad is established and well-oiled, we can support our efforts with Stacking Strategies to supercharge our campaigns.

As you create your goals this year, consider the quantifiable results you want to achieve, and break these results down into specific, executable tasks:

  • Speaking twice a month to an audience of decision-makers (the Marketing Gameplan program calls this a Visibility Strategy).
  • Execute 5-step autoresponder to event attendees offering both free advice / support and promoting our coaching / new book / mastermind programs (Grassroots Marketing).
  • Execute promo plan to fill our group coaching program with XXX participants (Grassroots Marketing).
  • Turn live training sessions into a multimedia program that we can sell online to generate $XXXX in passive income.

My good friend Scott Jeffrey is one of the most amazing Results Planners I know.  He suggests a few key questions to get you focused on the results you want to create:

  1. What does the end picture look like?
  2. What are the necessary conditions to realizing the end picture?
  3. What results-driven activities are needed to satisfy each condition?  Instead of asking, “What do I need to do next?”, ask “What is the result I’m after?”

According to Scott, “It takes time to develop a results-oriented mindset because we are conditioned to think in terms of activities and to-do lists.”  As you think about your goals for this year, use the New Year’s energy to frame your goals in terms of RESULTS rather than busy “should-dos.”