I’ve probably had more conversations about this topic with clients than any other: What marketing strategies should I use to market my professional services?
These days, there are more options to market yourself than ever before. And you may have a tendency to look for something quick and easy that will generate a never-ending stream of new prospective clients.
I wish that solution existed. Some of the newer methods of marketing, such as YouTube videos, are very powerful, but extremely difficult for the average person to pull off successfully.
Over the years, I’ve had tremendous success with three primary marketing activities. And I’ve also helped a whole lot of clients implement these strategies successfully as well. Nevertheless, for all of them it can take a tremendous amount of time and energy to get consistent results.
Here are the pros and cons of each strategy and my overall recommendations about how to integrate each one into your overall marketing plan.
Networking and Direct Outreach
This strategy about building relationships with others in your field who can connect you to prospective clients. This means having conversations, attending meetings (individually or in groups), and doing follow-up. Sometimes it means reaching out directly to those in your network (including LinkedIn), being proactive, and exploring possibilities for projects.
Pros: Networking is the most concentrated, focused, personal kind of marketing. And if you do it well and consistently it can be extremely effective in building strong relationships and trust with your business associates and prospects.
Cons: The downside of networking is that it can drain your energy. This is a particular issue for introverts like me. And networking only enables you to reach a limited number of people.
Recommendation: Start marketing your professional services by meeting as many people as you possibly can – face to face. Join organizations and associations and then learn how to use LinkedIn to connect with new prospects.
Speaking (Live and Webinars)
If you want to gain a reputation as an expert, nothing is better than speaking. And it combines the best of networking and writing, in that you are connecting with people directly and also sharing your valuable expertise.
Pros: Speaking can quickly establish you as an expert. And you can immediately follow up with those in your audience.
Cons: The downside of speaking is that, for many people, it comes with a high fear factor, therefore a lot of people avoid it.
Recommendation: As your network expands, start to find audiences to present your ideas through professional associations, chambers of commerce, and other groups both offline and online. Learn the skills of giving a great presentation and of following up with your audience members.
Publishing articles and books have always been a good way to market professional services. It establishes your credibility. And with the expansion of various platforms on the Internet, such as Medium, and tools such as WordPress, it’s easier than ever to put your ideas out there.
Pros: There is no better way to get your ideas out into the world and in front of a large number of people quickly and at virtually no cost.
Cons: The downside of writing is the sheer volume of online material. There are so many articles published online these days and sent out by email that it can be hard to break through. And yes, writing is a lot of work and takes lots of time.
Recommendations: You should publish an online newsletter and blog as soon as possible. Work at growing your list and you’ll expand both your reach and credibility. Note that this can take years, so you need to be patient.
This is the fifth of five articles about the 5 Pillars of Marketing, my marketing model that helps get your marketing on track. 5 Pillars article here.
Social Media (supplemental strategy)
For independent professionals, social media is a fast and easy way to communicate about what you’re up to in your business. It’s worth the time to set up LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Pros: It’s easy to set up social media accounts and start posting and linking almost immediately.
Cons: It can take a long time to gain traction that results in any new business. And it can also eat up a huge amount of time.
Recommendation: Think of social media as a supplement to networking, speaking, and writing. It can increase your visibility and credibility among those you already know.
All of these marketing strategies take time to master and don’t yield immediate results, but in my experience, the time and effort you put into them will reward your investment many times over.
Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make in marketing your professional services is implementing these activities randomly and superficially. For success, you need to do all of them regularly and frequently. And for that you need a solid, step-by-step plan.