Many people will tell you that in a recession, marketing is more important than ever. If you go into hiding when times are tough, you’ll drop off the radar of your prospective clients.
People will continue to buy professional services, but the overall market may have shrunk. Therefore, being visible and offering value is more important than ever.
But even if you are determined to market your services, there’s a good chance you’re making some deadly marketing mistakes that will decrease the overall effectiveness of your marketing.
Here are 10 Marketing Mistakes professionals make in a recession and how you can correct them.
1. Not Having a Game Plan
Getting out there and doing marketing activities doesn’t mean getting out there randomly doing anything that seems like a good idea. This will dissipate your energy and resources and make you feel even more desperate if your efforts aren’t successful.
Spend some serious time crafting a plan. First know who your clients are, and what they need from you. Then develop a step- by-step plan to consistently put your message in front of them with an emphasis on setting up face-to-face meetings.
2. Buying into “Ain’t It Awful”
Times are tough? Or are they? Are you being triggered by external things such as the stock market, housing prices, and troubles with the banks? When you get triggered, do you find yourself thinking stressful thoughts, feeling worried, and then being paralyzed in taking any creative action?
What’s just one limiting thought that seems to be repeating in your head over and over, such as, “Nobody can afford my services now.” Now really question that thought. Is it really true? Don’t stop questioning that thought until you realize that it’s YOU that made it up. Then make up a more empowering thought.
3. Not Refining Your Marketing Message
I’ve talked about improving marketing messages a thousand times. What happens when you don’t have a good, attention- getting message? You waste valuable time and miss opportunities to attract clients. If your message is not clear and full of value, prospects won’t pay attention and will pass you by.
Make sure your marketing message include the following four components: 1. Clear target market, 2. Problem or issue prospect is experiencing, 3. Bottom line outcome you produce for your clients, 4. story that illustrates the above: “Client had this issue, we worked with her and she got this result.”
4. Not Improving Your Marketing Materials
The same goes for all your marketing materials, especially your web site. Web sites have these problems that drive away prospects: 1. Unattractive, unprofessional design, 2. Unclear, unfocused marketing message, 3. Insufficient, rambling content, 4. No clear call-to-action.
Working on improving your web site is relatively inexpensive and gives you high marketing leverage. Take the time to find a good designer, write clear, compelling copy and let your visitors know why they should do business with you. This will serve you in both good times and bad.
5. Not Offering Extra Value
In times of recession we think of scaling back and cutting costs. But the message you convey when you do this tends to backfire. You end up looking cheap. Yes, people are always looking for a great deal, but ultimately they are looking for solid value.
Work at ways you can add value without adding a lot of expense. For instance, every client appreciates more information, resources and access. As a bonus to all your clients, provide a special web page with this kind of value, then send a weekly email letting them know what’s new.
6. Not Offering Programs
It’s easier to buy a “program” than it is to buy a “service.” A service is more open-ended and intangible. For instance, if you do management consulting, you may offer “management consulting services” by the hour or by the day. But do you see how vague this is? Where’s the value?
Instead, offer programs that are more tangible. They have a beginning, middle and end and offer a specific outcome for a set price. This is perceived as a higher value overall, has less risk for the prospect, and is also much easier to sell.
7. Not Improving Your Selling Process
The selling process often ends up as a rambling, unfocused conversation about your services. It tends to be aimless and disorganized, fails to cover important points, and often leaves out the close completely.
The sales process needs to be organized into these five major parts: 1. Current situation and challenges of prospect, 2. Prospect goals and desired future, 3. Things stopping prospect from realizing those goals and future, 4. Presentation of your service/ solution, 5. Call-to-action – asking for the business.
8. Not Getting Out There
It’s easy to get busy and hide in your office. It always seems to be more important to answer another email or send a Twitter or Facebook message. Don’t you sometimes get a sense that you’re not connecting very deeply when it’s only online?
Nothing against social media, but it really can’t replace in-person contacts through networking, individual meetings, and attendance at seminars and conferences. Don’t end up as a “ghost marketer.” Be a “real marketer” who also connects in person.
9. Not Staying Regularly in Touch
Perhaps the biggest overall mistake most businesses make. Whether it’s a prospect you meet at a networking event, an attendee at a presentation, or an existing client, we tend to disappear and wait for them to be in contact with us.
You need a program of “keep-in-touch marketing” where your prospects and clients hear from you regularly, get ideas and information from you, and are informed of new services and programs. The best way to do this is through an email newsletter (eZine) that goes out like clockwork.
10. Being Passive, Not Proactive
Passive marketing is lazy marketing. That is, you think you are doing something, but you’re not really connecting. Another way to think of this is doing marketing activities aimlessly, going through the motions, but doing little to move things forward.
Proactive marketing is based on campaigns that get your message out there and that you follow up on. For instance, a telecast that you hold, and then follow up with the participants to set up appointments to discuss your services. You need to take the initiative and reach out, not wait for prospects to call you.
How many of these marketing mistakes are you making? What’s your plan to correct them?
The Bottom Line: If you work at correcting just one marketing mistake at a time, your marketing will go to a whole new level and you’ll start seeing results, even when there’s a so-called recession going on. In fact, don’t be surprised if your business does even better than ever before.
Sponsored by Geeks and Company Resellers at www.geeksandcompany.net
Reproduced with permission.
By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.