Shirley and Bob have allowed us to share this excellent piece to get your business off on the right track for the new year ahead; their gift to you from their free zine, "The Marketing Energizer for Consultants"...
How You Can Quickly Zero In On The Right Prospects
And Win Them As Clients
Seven Simple Steps for Powerful Results From All Your Marketing Communications
by Bob & Shirley Hanson
Hanson Marketing Group, Inc.
To celebrate the new year and new century and the year 2000, we thought long and hard about a present for you.
We wanted a gift that would reverberate throughout your consulting practice as you ring in the new era.
Fortunately, we have your words to guide us to the just-right gift for you. We turned to the survey you kindly responded to when you subscribed to "The Marketing Energizer."
You won't be surprised to find out that your most common challenge is (as one consultant put it) "attracting people to what I do."
Or you may have described it as "finding qualified leads," "getting my message to the right target group," or "finding the right prospects."
What's holding you back?
For many of you it's being squeezed for time.
You're caught in a juggling act. "Being a one-person company, my challenges are having to make marketing cold calls, preparing direct mail pieces, and performing the consulting function at the same time."
Some of you see yourselves as the stumbling block.
You may not "have enough confidence and skill in selling myself," or you are "not thinking I'll be able to market myself successfully."
For others it's marketing that turns you off.
"I hate to do it. I'm a scientist by training and experience and I really don't like to be a salesman." Another consultant said, "I'm not a Rotary or Chamber-of-Commerce-Type-of-Guy."
Another revealed, "I'm not a salesman. I couldn't sell water in the desert. People from all over the place tell me how professional my work is...and yet I am a complete idiot when it comes to selling myself."
A consultant said, "Marketing is my biggest challenge! Honestly folks, I am a small potato, one-man operation that has visions of grandeur."
You can achieve your "vision" for your consulting practice. And you can grow without the growing pains of "selling" yourself. (We'll show you how in a minute.)
Our gift to you is a simple, straightforward marketing plan that takes into account your time, your concerns, and your uniqueness. It gives you a process to allocate your resources wisely and a head start on effective marketing once you've gone through all steps.
We tried to make it as easy as 1, 2, 3 -- and to be honest -- 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Before we go there, we'd like to answer one question.
What is marketing?
It encompasses five R's --
Those are three R's that you may be familiar with. There are two more:
- getting the Right message
- to the Right people
- through the Right medium
- at the Right time
- to attract your desired Response.
We practice direct marketing and to us, that 5th "R" is essential. Direct marketers measure success by how well a marketing tool attracts that critical Response.
Now we're ready to take the plunge into the...
I-Can-Do-It-Even-If-I-Hate-To-Market Marketing Plan
Step One: Identify Your Desired Response.
- Be as specific as you can be: It may be to attract enough new business to grow your practice in the next year so that you can keep 25 people busy.
- It may be to jumpstart a new practice with 3 more of your ideal clients in the next six months.
- Or it may be to test a new field. You want feedback to help you make your decision whether to go full steam ahead or to reconsider your direction.
- This becomes the purpose of your plan.
Step two: Understand Your Target Market
Be clear exactly who they are. Draw a sharp picture of your typical prospect. Look at his or her --
- title or titles
- income level
- buying patterns
- how he or she likes to be contacted
- the associations he or she belongs to
- the publications he or she reads
- his or her biases, and
- the trends occurring in his or her field.
- For example, in our survey you pointed out a bias of consultants to "shy away from doing anything they're not trained in." For many of you that means marketing.
- Most important, recognize your prospects' fears, their common daily frustrations, and, above all, the burning, churning, roaring volcano of a problem that keeps your target market awake at night.
Step Three: Rely On The Positive Things Others Say About You
We added this step because, unless you are a name like Cisco Systems or Andersen Consulting, you'll need a superabundance of proof to win over your skeptical prospects. People are more suspicious than ever -- both on and off the Web. And proof is a quality that's missing from most marketing communications.
So, to get a jump start, when you're ready to take action in Step Six, gather or generate as much proof as you can. Allay your prospects' uncertainty, doubt, and mistrust with...
- success stories
- your client list if you are comfortable divulging it (not all consultants are)
- articles about you in other publications
- the books and manuals you've written
- the groups you have spoken to, etc.
This evidence can become the lifeblood of your marketing.
Note: If you are uncomfortable encouraging a client to provide a testimonial, consider asking someone else to do this job for you. (We've done this for our clients.)
Step Four: Position Your Service or Products
Here you develop your USP -- your Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Service Position. Look at your consulting firm from the mind of your prospect. How do you want that individual to view you?
Marketing guru Dan Kennedy asks the question:
"Why should I (your prospect) choose your business versus any/every other option available to me in your category?"
Serendipitously, this month's tip at http://www.hansonmarketing.com/monthtip6.html is about creating your Unique Selling Proposition. It's called "Magic Words: Differentiate Yourself And Turn Prospects Into Clients With the Right Words . . . Your USP."
Many of you complain that your direct mail doesn't work. Without a USP your business can fade into a crowd of look-alikes -- one reason your direct mail can fail. Another might be not weighing in with a superabundance of proof (Step Three above).
So far, your help to break through your "I'm not good at selling" barrier includes:
- Let others speak out for you through their testimonials
- Craft compelling success stories to sell your firm, and
- Be prepared with the right USP.
Step Five: Choose Your Marketing Tools
Draw on the first four steps to set your priorities. Then, create a list of possible marketing methods that seem to have potential for you. The more you know about your prospects and clients and your competition, the easier it will be to develop this list.
Step Six: Create A Marketing Action Guide
This is the step where you fill in the who, what, when, where, how, and why of your marketing plan.
- Break your marketing tools into specific steps.
- List each step in a day-by-day or week-by-week calendar that tells you which marketing activities you are carrying out when along with who is going to do it and how.
- In your action guide, plan on approaching your prospects again and again.
- Let them hear from you at least every 90 days. People forget, their situations change, or they simply may need time to develop confidence in you and your services or products.
- And once you fill in Steps One through Four, you'll know what words to put into your marketing communications to optimize your results.
- Most important, don't hide your calendar at the back of your desk drawer or in an out-of-sight-out-of-mind digital place. Confront your action guide daily.
Step Seven: Evaluate the Results
Keep a record of where each prospect and each client came from. Study how well your marketing tools are performing by answering questions such as:
Do the numbers, make decisions about the most effective way to continue, think about adding another marketing tool to your mix, and go through steps one through six to generate your next marketing plan.
- What kind of projects are they bringing to me?
- How many prospects become clients?
- What is my return on my investment?
It comes down to this:
Not having a well-thought out marketing plan for your consulting firm can keep you from achieving your
"visions of grandeur." Consistently following through on your action guide can release vigorous synergy and open you up to greater success.
Bob and Shirley Hanson
© by Bob and Shirley Hanson. All rights reserved.
The Hanson Marketing Group integrates offline marketing tools with proven Internet strategies. They specialize in helping consulting and high-tech firms generate more leads. Their free zine, "The Marketing Energizer for Consultants," offers tips on what leading consultants are doing to attract their ideal clients. Subscribe at http://www.hansonmarketing.com/freezine.html