Plan the Work, Work the Plan

This week’s info is useful to you in only one case – if you actually do any of it consistently. I don’t care if you market to seven people weekly or seventy people. What I do care about is if you’re going to map out a plan of any sort and follow through.

See, we writers aren’t really big on the follow-through part of marketing. We’re all for sending out brochures and emails, or applying for jobs blindly. But somewhere in our heads we have the notion that we can’t market beyond that, that we’re creatives, dammit, and we shouldn’t be expected to put ourselves through all this for our craft!

Hogwash. If you can convince yourself to get up in the morning and meet someone else’s deadline, you can surely meet your own.

New Clients
So let’s recap a bit. Your plan should include locating new clients. I know you hate searching, but look at each one as a potential paycheck and suddenly the search is a bit less hateful, isn’t it? Like I said before, seven or seventy – it’s whatever number of people you feel comfortable contacting, and the number you can realistically call back within a week. If you start with 150, that’s great, but you’d better have time and patience enough to dial those 150 numbers or you’re going to lose interest and stop marketing altogether. For now, keep it small.

Stuff You’ll Send
Next comes your marketing materials. If brochures seem a bit too daunting for you (whatever will you say?, you wonder), try a postcard mailer. I would recommend anything that allows you to include a business card/Rolodex card, but any communication at this point is better than nothing.

Following Up
Onward to the follow-up. Please call. I know it’s a pain – I hate it myself – but it really does give you a more realistic presence to the person on the other end of the phone. Imagine this – you receive a really nice brochure in the mail for a service that’s kind of interesting to you. You set it aside to follow up. The next day, more mail comes in, and the next day, and soon you’ve forgotten about that brochure. You may come across it again and wonder why you never followed through, or you could just chuck it since the appeal that was once there doesn’t quite hit you anymore.

Okay, now let’s suppose that same brochure comes in. You set it aside. But… in a few days, your phone is ringing and someone is reminding you it’s there. You remembered it now, and you may even be able to locate it again. The person on the other end is about to make a sale, or may make on in the future. Plus now you have someone who can answer your questions.

Okay, so you may not buy right away, but if this person does what you as a writer should do next – continue marketing indefinitely – you might at some point decide to buy.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat
That’s our last step – ongoing marketing. Like I said earlier in the week, this is an indefinite process of contacting your targeted list of customers regularly (see why you don’t want to start with 150 names now?).

That begs the question – when you make the sale, what then? Do you still focus all that marketing on that client? Somewhat. What I do is I move them to a different list – current clients. These people get communication from me, but not as often. They’ve already purchased my services, so they don’t have to be sold on the concept any longer. They need to be sold on my availability and their need of me. Huh? That just means I will keep in front of them regularly and be a bit more informal – “Hi, hope you’re doing well. I had some free time the next few weeks and wondered if there were any projects you needed help with.” These folks also get “Googled” with alerts – an easy way to stay top-of-mind with them without asking for work.

Like it or not, we’re all salespeople. We have to market just like the people who sell products for a living. If you start looking at your marketing as a free service – you’re letting them know you exist and that you can help them – it will seem a lot less like begging and a lot more like providing a useful service to a like-minded business person.

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  • Devon Ellington December 7, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    That’s a really sane and logical approach.

    Devon Ellington
    Ink in My Coffee

  • Lori December 7, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Sane and logical only if it’s used!

    Thanks, Devon. 🙂