How To Get Marketing Leverage
When most of us start out in business, we tend to be time rich and money poor.
Most of the marketing we do tends to be the stuff that we can do for free. But which naturally takes a lot of our time.
Basically, we don't have much marketing leverage.
I remember when I started out on my own nearly 6 years ago. I did what I was taught was the best way to meet new clients: networking.
I went to a couple of events a week at least, hoping to connect with people who needed my services. Over time I got good at it, and I got smart: I focused my networking on events where there'd be a decent number of potential clients or referrers in attendance.
What I found took the biggest toll on my time though was the follow up.
Networking best practice, I was taught, was all about arranging a follow-up meeting with likely looking businesses to discuss how we might be able to help each other out.
Boy, did that take time.
I'd find I was travelling 30 minutes there and back minimum for an hour or so's meeting which rarely led to much.
It might just have been me, but at the time it seemed that my ideal prospects – senior clients with budgets – were scaling back their networking activity. They didn't need to go out to keep their finger on what was going on in the marketplace, they had the internet for that.
And they were so busy they certainly didn't have time for lots of speculative coffee meetings to explain their business to people who wanted to work for them.
So most of my meetings were with lots of nice people like myself. A bit too much time and not enough money.
Now some of those turned into valuable partnerships and even friendships. But nonetheless, they took a ton of time.
Eventually I figured out that a better route for me was to do presentations at events where I shared what I knew and the people who then asked to meet me were much more likely to need my help rather than being speculative coffees.
And I did the same thing online with my blog, free reports, webinars, videos etc. It gradually shifted the balance of contacts I had to people genuinely wanting help.
Of course, I still network and go to events with peers. But I don't see them primarily as ways of connecting with clients. If it happens, great. But these days I'm there mainly to learn and have fun.
The next thing I found that was taking a lot of time was the free initial consultation.
Live very many professionals, I offered a free 30-60 minute call to people to discuss their issues and roadblocks and chart a roadmap to how they could address them. These are generally a win:win. Someone who needs help gets some valuable advice. I get to show them I know what I'm doing. And at the end we discuss whether it would be a good fit to work together.
The problem was that as my marketing got more effective and I reached more people, those sessions began to take a big chunk of time. And I was getting a lot of requests from people who at the end of the call really wanted to work with me, but who simply couldn't afford my fees. Or we just weren't a perfect fit for working together.
So of course, I started putting in criteria and an application form for these sessions to try to focus them on the people who stood the best chance of ending up working with me.
But at the end of the day, the core of the problem is that these sessions take time.
They're wonderful in that they really help people out and deliver tremendous value to them. But eventually it struck me that I had a choice.
I could either invest and hour of my time in a free call to help one person (and maybe end up working together). Or I could invest that hour in creating a free video or an article or podcast that could help hundreds or thousands of people.
Now the chances of someone who watches one of my videos turning into a client is much, much smaller than if we do a 1-1 call. But since I can reach hundreds of times more people the chances don't have to be that high for it to work.
So in the end I decided to stop doing the free 1-1 sessions and focus instead on being helpful to more people through my free resources.
If people drop me an email or call wanting to discuss working with me, then we'll have that discussion about working together. But it won't be a free review of their marketing – they can get that from my videos and articles.
And if people just want a short consultation to address a specific problem they have they can hire me for that here.
But by giving away my ideas and insights in written, audio or video form rather than 1-1 I've got marketing leverage.
I can create these assets once, and they can help hundreds or thousands of people for years to come. Freeing me up to work 1-1 with paying clients or to create products or whatever I want to do.
So that's my way of getting marketing leverage. What's yours?
Image courtesy of Courtesy of the Annenberg Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania