I decided that one way to make it clear when I am talking specifically about business learnings - for the sake of anyone who is looking for info about starting a business - is to label these particular blog posts, "What I Learned About...." That should make it easy for both of us. My inaugural post was born from this past week of working with a client and talking to new potential clients as a result of one client's satisfaction and a new relationship I established with someone I met in a Facebook group. That led to a discussion, which led to someone else entirely, which led to my next new client.
My mastermind group as a whole has been talking about marketing and selling, selling, selling as much as we can. We wonder about various marketing tactics each other is using. One of us is brand spanking new to all of this, so she is working on figuring out what marketing means for her and what she should do. Another has been selling a product wholesale and retail for some years so there are multiple ways for her to market and she follows it faithfully. I am implementing a strategy from the Get Clients Now (by C.J. Hayden) book, though it's a daily challenge to work my way down the list because of the tightness of time. There are lots of relatively simple marketing techniques one can try for 28 days before deciding if they are worth the effort and either continuing on or moving on to a new technique. One thing I picked up recently since I focused my energy on entrepreneurship once again is the importance of continuing to market even while you are in throes of working, lest you fall into the dreaded feast/famine cycle where you have so much work to do that you do it - hopefully joyfully - but when it's done, you look around and there is nothing waiting because you stopped marketing due to your busyness. I do not want that to be me, so I try to keep the marketing fires burning as much as I can, be it through social media engagements or just reaching out to someone I know to see how it's going and to keep the contact alive.
I have 10 things I am doing - sometimes a little haphazardly - from that Get Clients Now book, but what seems to be working from me best has nothing to do with what I have read in any book or even noticed on any podcast, though I'm sure it's been said. What seems to be working for me has everything to do with my own personal philosophy about how to treat people; it has to do with my enjoyment of connecting with people. Recently I told my mastermind group about being almost done with a client's book and that I had not one, not two, but three conversations with potential clients scheduled within the next week. And oh yeah, there was a Facebook chat also started with a referral. Now I know all of these won't pan out. If none of them did, that would be OK too, but so far one is signing, one will be back when she's done writing and one is a conversation yet to be had. The other isn't doing a project I can work on, but even she, right now, is a client until I find someone I can recommend to her to help her with her book.
Th strategy that seems to work for me is what is called relationship marketing, defined as forming long-term relationships with customers. It is an actual strategy, but I did not start with the strategy in mind. Instead, I started with the Golden Rule and my personal belief in how to operate. It just all joins together to form a strategy that is an actual business tactic.
It's a basic thing, really. I look for ways to help people. That's it. Nothing fancy or the latest thing. If the way I help has something to do with my business, that's great. But it doesn't have to. I just go about my business in my various groups, among my various friends and associates, on my various social media platforms. If I see something that I can clearly respond to and that doesn't seem like it will bring me any kind of unwanted attention, and I have time, then why not? Helping one person with something that was simple to me and not quite connected to my business led to her recommending a family member to me who isn't ready to use an editor today, but who will likely come back when she is done writing due to the good relationship I had established with her family member. My decision to connect with someone (one of the 10 GCN strategies I am employing) who asked me thoughtful questions and showed interest in a group we're both in led to me working with him and paying him, which led to him asking his group if anyone needed an editor. Three said yes. One is starting with me next week.
To me, the idea is to partner with every client and go as far as I can and when I can't, then find someone else to help take them further along. The idea is to do the service for which they paid and a free service that is easy. My client publishes a book, I tell my network. Easy. If I meet someone who could use the services of a client, recommend them. Why wouldn't I? It's simple and it's a relationship. Each person is connected to countless others. But it isn't just about possibly getting new work through their network - always a boon - but not potentially shutting the door on other new clients because of poor treatment of the one.
At some point I will have a product, which means scaling and that is a good thing. But the nature of what I do will always have a one-on-one component. And I will give that one client all that I know how to give or I will find out how to do more. Because that is doing unto clients as I would have a business do unto me. That is giving value and not expecting anything in return - though I will ask a client for a testimonial, which is just good business sense.. That is being of service and using my spiritual gifts. That can never go wrong for me because that foundation is me using my gifts out of the desire to do just that. And that is the key. The best marketing strategy - in my opinion - is the one aligned with my natural talents and gifts so that I will always have the desire to do it and do it automatically. For me it's relationships. That is what I learned this week.