Let me say up front that I’m not the best marketer in the world. I know all the rules, I’ve read the books, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve written a lot of posts on this blog on the topic (145 so far, not counting this one).
What’s my issue? Sometimes you know stuff but for whatever reason you just can’t or won’t do it. Maybe it’s hard, physically and mentally. Maybe you don’t have enough confidence. Maybe you feel beaten down because so far all your efforts seem to be failing you. It could be a heck of a lot of things.
If you’re working for yourself like I do, if you’re not giving it your all, waiting for others to do work for you, it can make you feel like you’re not in control of what you might get coming back your way.
In my main profession, that being a health care finance consultant, that happens more often than not. Most of the time I feel like it’s hard to bridge the gap to talk to the people I need to talk to. Yet I know the people who finally break through and talk to these folks don’t have any more skills than I do. For the most part, they don’t have my knowledge in doing what I do. That’s not bragging, it’s truth; there’s not all that many people who know what I know when it comes to my particular set of skills (imagine Liam Neeson saying that lol).
Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last six months trying to figure out what’s up with my marketing efforts. A couple of weeks ago it finally hit me; at least a portion of it did. So, I spent last week thinking about some things, and this week I started implementing a few of my thoughts. Recognizing that online it’s all about traffic and offline it’s about influence, I’ve picked up on some of what I need to do.
I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve landed a client already; heck, I just started Monday. Well… kind of… as I did sell some copies of my latest book on leadership titled Leadership Is And Isn’t Easy by talking to some people on Twitter; marketing comes in many forms. 🙂
In any case, I came up with 7 definite rules of marketing. I can honestly say that some of these I’ve violated and rectified, some I haven’t violated, and some I’ve actually been pretty good at. Still, there are only 7 things here I want to talk to you about. Let’s see what you think of these:
1. Be clear in what you have to offer
I kept looking at my LinkedIn profile and I knew something was missing. I’d made a lot of changes to it but it just hadn’t come together.
Then I realized what the problem was. I wasn’t fully clear on the main thing I had to offer to my most lucrative clients. It’s something most of them don’t know much about that I do, something called a hospital charge master, which is my specialty. If you’re interesting follow that link back and read a little bit about it.
First I did a little bit of research to support my claim, then I opened my new summary with:
Are you a health care executive? If so, you need to talk to me.
Do you know what a charge master is? Do you know what it’s for?
Based on research it seems unlikely. A charge master is the respiratory system of every hospital in the nation. Without it, you can’t capture charges properly. Without knowing everything that it impacts, you can’t properly budget, nor can you figure out whether your revenue is up to snuff.
I closed with: “If you want to know what you can do to improve your hospital’s revenue and cash position, you want to talk to me.” There’s a lot more on the summary page but as you can see, I wasted no time in first establishing who my best client is, told them what this thing is (which every hospital has), what it’s for and what I can do for them. It’s way better than what I used to have, which I have to admit wasn’t all that strong.
2. No “wussy” words
This is why it wasn’t all that strong. I tend to write in ways that aren’t quite “in your face”; see, even in this sentence I used the word “quite”, which could be considered a bit wussy. In regular conversation that’s not bad; in sales copy it’s the kiss of death.
You can’t say things like “you might succeed with this…” or “it’s possible your business will grow…”. Yet, that’s how a lot of my copy looked. Even on this blog, whenever I’ve talked about certain things I’m trying to sell here I’ve used what I’m calling wussy words.
For instance, many years ago I wrote about a product I still use called Mailwasher, which I still market… barely. In one line I wrote this line: “There are some other categories you can have, but these are the ones I use, and I feel they’re the most important.” In this instance, saying “I feel” is wussy because the categories I highlighted were the most important, and if I’d said it that way, along with being more forceful with some of the other sentences on that post, it would have been convincing enough to sell more of them (this is actually the best selling product I’ve ever had on this blog).
So, when you look at your copy, look for words or phrases that don’t look all that strong and change them up. Don’t lie; just sound more confident.
3. Go ahead and be bold
In my opinion, the first line of my new summary page is pretty bold: “Are you a health care executive? If so, you need to talk to me.” In all my previous copy, I’ve never said anything like that. I was almost apologizing in my initial sales copy, afraid that I was going to hurt someone’s feelings, or put them off.
This time around, I knew I had to reach out to the people I know are the ones that can hire me for the work I want to do. I was also bold in the rest of what I wrote, calling out what I know they don’t know, once again potentially alienating those who might be sensitive. Yet, anyone who’s realistic knows I’m telling the truth, and if they don’t believe me they can call and let me quiz them.
The way I see it, I’ve got nothing to lose. Sometimes you have to tell it like it is and weed out those folks who won’t work with you for whatever reason. In a strange way, I owe part of this thinking to a guy named Don Purdum, whom Adrienne Smith introduced on her blog, who on his own blog wrote something to the effect that if you feel you’re someone who wants to try to do something on your own without help then you’re not the type of person he wants for a client. Of course that knocks me out, yet the impact of the statement was a bit inspiring. Saying up front who you want to work with and don’t want to work with is risky, but those who matter will contact you.
4. Market what you know
This one isn’t a problem I have, so I can talk about it without guilt. In different spaces I market different things to the people who check me out. On my business blog I market health care finance and leadership. On this blog I market blogging, social media and writing (and a host of other things, all things I know about). On my finance blog I market budgeting and ways to learn how to save money. On my medical billing site I market myself as an authority on medical billing for both those who do it and those who have to deal with folks in that industry.
I bring this one up because there are a lot of people writing blogs on things they know little about. There are way too many “make money blogging” blogs written by people who’ve never made any money or hardly even tried. On Facebook last week, a friend of mine was talking about some guy who wanted her to ghost-write a book on a subject he knew nothing about so he could market it and himself as an expert.
In my mind that’s deceitful, yet there are a lot of people who recommend that people have products made for them that they can sell, telling them it’s more important to have a product than to know what it does or how it works. Tell me, how ethical does that sound to you?
5. Don’t inflate the truth
This is another one I’ve never had to do because in my main business I’ve actually achieved the numbers I put out, even if they sound extraordinary. For instance, I actually did help a hospital make $730 million in one year, and helped others make hundreds of millions also. I can back that up.
Yet, I know there are people who are inflating their monthly income statements online, or finding ways of fudging how they’re making the money they might be making (for instance, many people who actually make money blogging aren’t actually making money blogging by selling products, but because they started blogging and got people to offer them money for services of some kind).
Not only is inflating the truth unethical, depending on how you do it and who you do it for it might be illegal if you’re a United States resident (Read Holly’s post on guidelines for reviewers, then near the bottom check out her links to the laws talking about it in more detail). If it can’t pass muster via an internet search, don’t make the claim.
6. Find ways to offer proof of product or experience
This one can be hard or easy, depending on what it is you’re offering or say you do. If you happened to click on that link above talking about charge masters, you might have seen that it actually leads to a page where those who want to see how I helped that one hospital make $730 million can download a white paper. It was easy enough to put together, and the only thing I can hope for is that someone will understand it all.
For leadership, I’ve now written two books and have a CD set. You see the book at the top left talking about using one’s website as a marketing tool. You also see that free book to the left (that most people don’t pay attention to) about business and blogging; yours truly is in that bad boy, and it’s a free down load.
On this blog and in many other places, I mention that I’ve written somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 article online and offline on a host of topics, and on just two of my blogs I have more than 2,800 articles. That should be proof enough that I can write, and I can, and have, mentioned other areas where I’ve written articles.
If you can show people what you’ve done in any field it’s hard to dispute your assertion that you can, and have done it. Products are a little different, although some affiliate programs you market might have a short term free trial, which is pretty much the same thing.
7. Call to action
I’ve always been bad at call to action writing. Yet, in the example of my LinkedIn page summary’s first and last line, I think I’ve gotten the call to action part down pretty well. I spent time last week and this week working on my health care business profile, which I send to hospitals that allow me to send them more information, trying to get a call to action down better, and I think I’ve succeeded there as well.
On this blog and my main business blog I try to end with calls to action in some fashion, most of the time by asking questions or trying to encourage conversation. That’s quite a different thing than when you’re trying to market services or products, but the overall concept is the same.
That’s what I believe; what about you? If you learned anything from this please share it wherever you hang out in social media, comment on it here, and help me get the word out.
Ah; I think I got the call to action thing down even more. 😉