"My guess is first I'll need some zippy flyers and a tri-fold brochure" said an email from Matt last week. Sadly, he is not the only one thinking that the first step to building a professional business is printing fliers and brochures. After all, that's what everyone does, right? And it seems like a logical place to start, doesn't it?
It's interesting that while most people who call me about my marketing mentoring services are well established practitioners looking for a new edge, Matt's message was one of the 14 emails I got last week from people who are just starting to build their practice.
They all wanted to know the best way to get started fast but seemed to be fixated on getting their fliers and brochures ready.
Fact is, "zippy flyers and tri-folds" are a bad idea when you are just starting out. They can be pricey if you want them to look sharp. But even worse - they are so "inflexible".
If you are just starting out, I'm more than sure, that you will quickly go through several "adjustments". I've seen people spent thousands on the "zippy brochures" only to find them useless in a couple of months.
So if getting brochures doesn't work what's the right way to go? Here is my sure-fire 10-step formula to quickly get started as a coach or consultant. And, if you are a well established practitioner, these ten tips may just give you the swift kick in the pants you need to re-invigorate your marketing.
1. PLAN.Yes, I know you've heard this before, but still too few people take the time to do this.
Find out what makes you tick. Evaluate your own strengths, desires, skills. What are you really good at? What do you love learning about? If you've worked with clients before - what type of clients did you have best results with so far?
If you don't have at least your "who" (your ideal client), "what" (the problems you solve) and "how" (your unique solution) figured out, don't even bother moving to step two.
2. Find a "hive".This is a critical step that most people completely overlook. You've got to find a market that WANTS what you've got (or what you want to learn.)
Ideally, people in this market should already be aware of their problem, have a real desire to solve it and the money to do so.
Evaluate if you can easily find and reach those people. Do they have an association, annual conference? Is there a list you can buy? If you can't find a hive - look for a different target market or change your offering.
3. Listen and learn.Talk to people you want to work with. Learn their language; how they communicate about their needs and problems. Ask them to tell you what solutions they are looking for and their preferred method of learning and solving problems.
4. Develop your Magnetic Marketing Message.Learn to describe what you are offering in 15 seconds or less.
Make sure your message clearly communicates three things: who you help, their problem, and your unique solution. This message is about the people you work with not about you.
This is where you get your business cards. I recommend you name your business in a way that communicates what you do and get some basic business cards to start.
The ones from vistaprint.com are great. $10 or $15 will easily get you started, although I recommend you spring the extra five bucks and opt not to have their branding on the back of your cards.
If possible, make your card an invitation to contact you. For example, my own cards advertise my free marketing report and invite people to download it from my web site.
5. Create attraction tools.Write a few "Top 10" articles and a "special report" that address the biggest problems your potential clients are experiencing.
Here is a hot tip for you: if you don't think you have enough expertise on the topic you want to teach - start by interviewing a few experts.
6. Build a basic web site.Don't wait for months or years. All you need are a few simple pages that communicate your magnetic marketing message, give you a place to post your articles and invite your visitors to sign up for your electronic newsletter or ezine.
Oh, I guess that would be step six and a half - start your ezine! It's so simple to do, there is just no excuse not to have one. You can start with something like www.ezezine.com - it will cost your nothing to send a monthly message if you have fewer than 1000 subscribers.
If you've got a large list already, use something like www.kickstartcart.com (the system I'm using.)
7. Start teaching!Offer free teleclasses and build interest around what you are going to coach or consult on. This is an important step; it allows people to get to know you and "sample" your services while it gives you an opportunity to test and tweak your content.
8. Help your first 5-10 clients.Coach a few people in your target market for free or trade services with them to get started. This will allow you to get your first success stories fast. Make it a habit to collect testimonials from every client.
If you are having hard time getting your first few clients here is your clue - focus more on how to "create more value" for your clients and less on how to "get" clients.
9. Develop group programs.Selling open-end coaching or consulting engagements can be tough. It's often hard to get people to see what they will get out of working with you.
You can overcome this by developing specific, close-end programs. They are easier to explain, offer more "tangible" outcomes and are more affordable since there are several participants paying for your time.
Those programs can become your "great client incubator" - a place from which your larger/individual assignments and projects will come.
10. Keep'em coming.Once you get your first few clients it's easy to get overwhelmed and stop marketing. But you've got to keep your marketing machine cranking at all time.
Most successful coaches and consultants learn that continuous education-based marketing (marketing by sharing their expertise) can get them more than enough business and establish them as undisputable experts at the same time.
You too can get similar results by writing and publishing articles, developing info-products and getting invited as a speaker to groups that attract your potential clients.
This is obviously only a beginning guide. But I guarantee that if you follow those 10 simple steps in just six months to a year you too can build a successful practice.
(c) 2004 Adam M. Urbanski
The Author, Adam Urbanski, a Marketing Mentor, helps ServiceProfessionals and Small Business Owners attract more clients.For more free tutorial articles, hot how-to tips and a FREE 32-page marketing guide go to http://www.themarketingmentors.com