by C.J. Hayden, MCC
Okay, so we're in a recession. Now what? Is it time to throw
your marketing plan out the window? Cut your prices? Close up
shop and look for a job?
Hmm, none of those choices sound too wise if we're in for a
stretch of poor economic conditions. It's certainly not time to
throw away the marketing plan. Cutting prices doesn't sound
like such a good idea if you might be getting less work to
begin with. Looking for a job in the current economy doesn't
seem like the best solution, either. So what's an independent
professional to do?
Maybe now is just the right time to get really, really smart
about your marketing. Here's what that might look like:
1. Target, target, target. It's tempting when business starts
looking scarce to throw your net wider and market to all kinds
of prospects. But this is exactly the wrong approach. Marketing
to multiple audiences diffuses your efforts and stretches your
resources too thinly. Instead, focus in on the most likely
market to need your services, take action on your offer, and
provide you with repeat business.
2. Communicate your unique value. When you're clear on who your
audience is, it's much easier to craft a message aimed directly
at them. Then you can talk specifics when you describe the
benefits of working with you. You can also tell prospects how
you specialize in their industry, have plenty of experience
with projects just like theirs, and possess special tools and
techniques to get the job done. Specialization makes you much
more valuable than a generic solution.
3. Seek out the low-hanging fruit. Pursuing brand new leads can
be labor-intensive, and newborn relationships take time to
nurture. Instead, reach out to former clients, networking
contacts, prospects who said no in the past, even stale leads
if they will recognize your name. A prospect who already knows
who you are is many times more likely to take your calls,
consider your offer, and agree to meet with you.
4. Ask, don't wait, for referrals. Even business newbies have
an existing network of friends, family, and colleagues who are
ready and willing to help you get business. The key is to ask
for their help. Instead of simply saying, "I'd appreciate your
referrals," tell them, "I'm looking for new clients in the X
industry, or with Y problem. Who do you know in that category
that you might be willing to introduce to me?"
5. Don't stop when you hear no. On those rare occasions when a
prospect truly says, "no, thanks," it may be time to move on.
But much more often, they say, "not now," "not ready," or "not
sure." These are all opportunities to follow up after more time
has elapsed, or with more information, or with more evidence of
your value. It's much more common for prospects to say no than
to say yes, so what to do with "no" answers should be part of
your game plan.
Long-time marketers may recognize these suggestions for smart
marketing as approaches that would be valuable in ANY economic
climate. When times are bad, smart marketing can save the day.
When times are good, smart marketing can make them even better.
If this is your first recession in business, consider this your
baptism of fire. If you can learn how to get clients in this
economy, you can get them any time.
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals 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.