7 Ways to keep marketing even when you're busy

By Bruce Katcher, Ph.D.

THE PROBLEM:

Marketing when busy with client work is a challenge for both beginning and experienced professional service providers. To keep a professional service practice thriving and to avoid the agonizing cycles of feast and famine, it is critically important that you never stop marketing.  When the marketing stops, the all-important lead stream dries up.  Once this happens, it won't be long before you will be in a panic, desperately trying to find new business.

Here are seven ways that you can avoid this problem.

1) FIGURE OUT WHAT TYPE OF MARKETING YOU REALLY ENJOY

If you don't enjoy it, you probably won't do it.  It's as simple as that.  For many, cold calling and getting published never gets off the back burner.  Why?  Because they hate doing it

Most marketing strategies work if done properly and often enough.  The "often enough" part is crucial.

Some professional service providers love to write, while others have difficulty putting a coherent sentence together.  Some love to schmooze at professional meetings, while others would rather stay home and read a book.  Some love to deliver speeches, while others would prefer to have bamboo shoved up their fingernails than get up in front of a group. 

You need to figure out which methods of marketing you enjoy the most.  If you enjoy it, you'll do it, even when you're busy with client work.

Here's what I do, or try to do.
I guess I'm just a ham, but I'm one of those who love to get up in front of groups.  It's when I'm at my best.  I therefore look for as many speaking opportunities as possible.

Also, as anyone who knows me can attest, I love to eat.  Therefore, I look for as many networking opportunities involving meals as possible.  Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it doesn't matter.  Busy with client work or not, I won't miss out on the opportunity to speak or eat.  It works for me!

2) CONDUCT REGULARLY SCHEDULED MARKETING ACTIVITIES

If it's scheduled on your calendar then it's more likely to happen.  Block out time or schedule due dates for your marketing activities.  Schedule things that you can control, such as completing a paper, sending out direct mail pieces, or attending monthly professional meetings.  If they're on your calendar you can schedule your client work around them.

Here's what I do, or try to do.

I have adhered to a strict schedule of publishing my electronic newsletter, Improving the Workplace, every month.  (All issues are archived at http://www.discoverysurveys.com/itwarchives.html.)

I also regularly attend professional networking meetings of The Society of Professional Consultants, the New England Society of Applied Psychology, and the BreakFitz group.  Once they are on my calendar, I schedule everything else around them, even when I am busy with client work.  I make them a priority.  Why?  Because, I enjoy them, I learn, and it is a very powerful form of marketing.  I can point to more than $400,000 worth of referral business that I have received from my involvement in The Society of Professional Consultants alone. 

3) LEVERAGE YOUR CONTENT IN YOUR MARKETING

Developing new content is time-consuming.  Recycle your own intellectual property so that you won't have to reinvent the wheel every time you turn your attention toward marketing.  For example, if you write a paper for a professional publication, you can use that content in speeches, in your newsletter, on your web site, and in press releases.

Here's what I do, or try to do.

As I mentioned, each month I publish my ezine, "Improving the Workplace."  I then send out a press release about the article.  Periodically, the press release leads to a phone call from an editor to write an article based on the content of the newsletter.  I am also often approached to deliver speeches based on one of my ezines.  In 2007 I turned the articles into a book published by AMACOM called "30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers, What Your People May Be Thinking and What You Can Do About It."

4) DEVELOP A REALISTIC MARKETING SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT

Develop a marketing plan each year which lists the marketing activities you are going to conduct each month.  For example, list articles you are going to write, mailings you are going to conduct, cold calls you are going to make, and advertisements you are going to place.

Make certain that your plan is realistic because the most important part of making a plan is sticking to it.  Place due dates on your calendar so that you can schedule your client work around them even when you're busy.

Here's what I do, or try to do.

I develop a detailed marketing plan each year.  It looks very nice.  It's a spreadsheet that I print out in color and proudly pin on the bulletin board next to my computer.

I must admit, however, that I always bite off more than I can chew.  I list more activities than are humanly possible even if I had no client work to occupy my time.  Don't make this mistake.  I'm working on it.

5) MAKE YOUR WEB SITE WORK FOR YOU 24/7

A web site will perform some of your marketing while you sleep.  It can sign up new subscribers to your newsletter, it can conduct a survey and provide respondents with results, it can sell products, and it can advertise your services.  While I'm doing client work, my site is marketing for me.

Here's what I do, or try to do.

I'm no web expert and have no desire to become one.  That's not the type of consulting I do.  However, I have a great Webmaster and I speak with him regularly about how to make my web site a marketing machine.  I receive hundreds of visitors per week and some weeks more than a thousand.  Most of them will never turn into clients, but my name and brand are getting out there and it's happening automatically.  If you need help, contact my web master, Ken Hablow at khablow@khgraphics.com.  He's the best.

6) BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR TIME

Subscribers of this ezine know my stance about selling time, but here it is again.  Consultants should sell results or deliverables, not time.  If you sell your time, you will not be able to devote the time and attention you need to market your services.

Also, be careful about spending a lot of time traveling.  Travel eats up valuable time and energy. 

Here's what I do, or try to do.

I sell project work, not my time.  I also market locally so that my travel is minimal.  On out-of-town projects I work it out so that I don't need to be on site except for an initial planning meeting or final presentation. 

7) USE THE SERVICE OF MARKETING PROS

If you sincerely believe that using consultants is good for your clients, why isn't it good for you?  They can help you strategize and develop an effective, realistic plan.  There are many who work with small businesses just like yours. 

Once you've developed a plan, you can also use others to help you implement it.  There is no reason that you need to do all of your own web site development, brochure development, cold calling, or any other marketing activity.  Others can do it for you.

Here's what I do, or try to do.

Even though I write quite a bit, I don't enjoy it.  I use a freelance editor, my brother-in-law, to help me.  Not only does he work with my spelling and grammar, he tells me when what I've written is ridiculous.  If you need help with your writing, get it.  I highly recommend Adam Snyder.  You can reach him at snydera@optonline.net.

IN CONCLUSION:

Marketing is the most important part of your consulting business. Make it part of your routine whether you're busy or not.  Follow these seven tips and you will be able to avoid peaks and valleys in your consulting by marketing your services even while you're busy with client work.
 

About the author

Bruce Katcher, Ph.D. is president of The Discovery Consulting Group, Inc. He helps organizations reduce employee turnover and improve employee morale. He conducts employee and customer surveys and also provides individual and group coaching to solo practitioners and small professional services businesses to help them grow.

He is author of the award winning book "30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers: What Your Employees May Be Thinking and What You Can Do About It," published by AMACOM. His next book, "Starting and Growing an Independent Consulting Practice" will be published by AMACOM in 2009.

He can be reached at BKatcher@DiscoveryConsultingGroup.com/a> or 781-784-4367.


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