Just Get Going: The Single Most Effective Marketing Trick
Creative freelancers suffer from a peculiar form of procrastination. For lack of a better name, I’ll call it the “I must get all of my ducks in a row before I start promoting my business” syndrome.
We all know people who’ve spent weeks and months perfecting their marketing materials, searching for the right office space, poring over purchases large and small, while all sorts of business opportunities are flying by.
The solution is to become like Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company. Shortly after the company started, Koch was talking with a wealthy relative who also was one of his investors. Koch was waxing ecstatic about the computer system that would track the company’s sales. The relative stopped him short with a simple question: Do you have any sales yet?
The relative, hoping to see a return on his investment, urged Koch to get out there and sell. So, Koch donned a business suit, went to a nearby bar, and struck up a conversation with an employee. But the employee didn’t understand English. The boss, seeing what was going on, decided to come over and talk to Koch. To the boss, Koch looked like the tax man.
Koch re-started his sales pitch and offered the boss a beer sample. Boss liked it so much that he ordered several cases. And that’s what started Boston Beer, the brewer of Samuel Adams, on its way to success.
Now, you may not have a wealthy relative who’s wondering when he’ll recoup his investment. Matter of fact, you might not have anyone nagging you about the speed at which you’re growing your business.
As a former U.S. President liked to say, I feel your pain. Right now, I have no deadlines. Which means that I need to drum up some business.
[So, Martha picks up the Sinister Deadline Bat, a rubber toy that sits right below her computer monitor, and flaps it above her desk. Gee, that was fun, but it sure didn't produce any clients. Time to stop procrastinating and get to business-drumming.]
What I’m going to do—and what I suggest you do—will feel like I’m asking you to add to that psychic pain you’re already feeling. I’m going to ask you to answer one simple question, and then it’s action time. Here’s the question:
Who’s your ideal client?
Don’t start your promotional engines until you can answer this one. If you need some hints, take a look at the Ideal Client Profile discussion in this Freelance Switch article .
While you’re crafting your answer, be patient. You’ll probably start out with a clunky answer that includes the potential client’s birthday, favorite color, and revenue growth of his company. A more svelte answer will come in time.
And don’t worry if your website doesn’t look perfect. (Mine doesn’t!) Or if your elevator speech isn’t polished. (My mouth is where elevator speeches go to die.) Or if you haven’t dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s in your three-year marketing plan. (I’d like to create such a plan, but I’m afraid that I just don’t have the knack for fiction writing.)
Okay, I’ll admit it. I used the P-word in that last paragraph. And the word “perfect” likes to hang out with another P-word called “perfectionism.” It isn’t always a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but I want the pilot of the plane I’m on to be a perfectionist. Or the surgeon who’s operating on a loved one.
The trouble with perfectionism and creative types is that it sucks up a lot of time that we could use for building our businesses. It’s all too easy to delve into endless tweaking of our websites, designing an award-winning direct mail piece, or creating a knock-their-socks-off HTML newsletter.
Meanwhile, business opportunities are flying by. And our competitors are jumping on them. So, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Just. Get. Going.
If you’re selling beer, be like Jim Koch and head over to the nearest bar to deliver your sales pitch. You’ll probably need a beer after your first few attempts, and I’ll return to that point later.
You’ll also hear the word “no.” Brace yourself – it’s going to happen whether you’re cold-calling a list of strangers or warm-calling your fellow Chamber of Commerce members.
Like that former President, I feel your pain. Since May 2007, I’ve made thousands of cold calls. I’ve left numerous voice mail messages, most of which were never returned, and I’ve racked up lots of “no’s”. In the midst of all the “no” answers, I have gotten some “yesses.” Some very lucrative ones, in fact. Business is a lot better than it was two years ago.
Know what happens when thousands of people turn you down? You develop a level of fearlessness that you never had before. You’ll be boldly going forth with contacts that you never thought you would make. CEOs of major companies? No problem! Self-made billionaires? Why not? The President of the United States? Yes you can!
Okay, that’s the long-term benefit. In the short term, you need to start talking to people, whether it’s on the phone, via e-mail, or in person. A script might be helpful, if for no other reason than keeping you focused.
If cold- and warm-calling aren’t your thing, jump-start your business promotions with Google Adwords or some other form of PPC. Try social networking sites. Or, if you’re the type who needs to get away from the computer, hit the networking circuit. Take your clients, prospects and referral sources to lunch. Be a guest speaker at Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, and other service clubs. Do what you have to do. Just. Get. Going.
So, you’re almost finished reading this article. And you’re taking action to build your business, even your ducks refuse to line up in a row. Reward yourself anyway — you’re making an effort. In time, it will pay off.
Take yourself out for a beer. That’s going to be my reward for making all those follow-up calls to leads this morning. (Hey! One of them may be interested in proceeding with a design project!) Or your reward may be of the non-caloric variety. (Why not take the dog for an extra-long walk through the park? She’ll appreciate the attention.)
Whatever you do, congratulate yourself for leaving the ranks of the procrastinators and joining the doers.