Category Archives: Marketing

Real Marketing – A Slow, Steady Process

Two weeks ago I started talking about this process of real marketing. I thought it was a good time to give a quick update as to how things are progressing, if they’re progressing. Actually, I tend to believe that any time one is trying to move forward it’s progress, even if one isn’t quite sure that’s what it is.

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve made a lot of phone calls. Some potential clients I’ve called twice. From my initiating things I haven’t landed anything yet, including anyone who even said “Yes, I’d like to talk more”. I did have a couple that asked me to send more information, and I’m taking that as a positive step. I also had one call that I thought would go better than it did, someone I’ve talked to before, and that one disappointed me so much that I not only didn’t make another call on that day, but was encouraged to write a post on my business blog about the disrespect independent consultants seem to get.

Now, what has happened is that I got a call from a hospital in another state asking me to submit a proposal to provide a couple of the services I do in health care, and that’s a good thing. You might not see these things as related but in my mind, when you start taking positive steps positive things start to come your way. Yes, I do believe in the laws of attraction. 🙂

Next, let’s talk about LinkedIn. I mentioned how I had reached out to some folks over there, and I’d only heard from one person. I can’t say that anymore. I did finally hear from another person who said that she’d been looking for someone who provides my services because she’s been asked in the past to find someone who does what I do, and that I’d be kept in her files the next time the request comes up. Good news once again.

See, the thing about real marketing is that you might not land the contract immediately, or make a sale then and there, but you start processes that, in some fashion, will get tings going and hopefully will work out in your favor later on. You may have to be patient, but eventually things will work out in some fashion.

Facebook? Lost cause for now, but that’s okay; I’ll keep plugging away at it. 🙂 How are your marketing efforts going?
 

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Marketing – Facebook

I wrote a post titled Getting More Eyes On Your Facebook Business Page. That post talked about the kind of time it might take to keep one of those pages going and the commitment overall it takes to have one. I always believe, just like I do with blogging, that if you’re not going to add new content to it don’t even start.

Real feel -23 Don't like it!
Daniel Kulinski via Compfight

Of course the overall question is whether Facebook is a good marketing tool or not. I tend to think “no” overall, and I’m going to tell you why.

First, initially the only people you can invite to your Facebook page are people you know. How many of you have loved ones or close friends that often read your blogs? Very few people do, and it’s the same with a Facebook page, for the most part. I was lucky enough to get 26 people to initially sign up so I could create that little widget over there to the right that I could put up on this blog, a couple other blogs, and one of my websites.

To date, that little widget has driven 3 people to sign up on that page. That’s not all that good when you consider I’ve had that page up over a year, possibly longer; I’m not sure where I created it exactly. I’ve promoted it of course but it’s one of those strange conundrums where you’re asking yourself if you want to drive people to your Facebook page or your blog.

At this point I have 204 people subscribed to the page. Most of the people I’ve invited through Facebook, and I’m happy they’ve signed up. There’s a good number of people who signed up through Empire Avenue, of all things, although I’m not sure if they signed up directly because of that page or because I asked some questions on the Empire Avenue Facebook page. It’s my assumption that anyone else who’s signed up might have seen something in the stream of someone they were following and decided to join, but truthfully I’m not really clear on that one.

What kinds of things do I put there? I post a lot of links from 3 of my blogs, but mainly from my business blog. Occasionally if I find something that pertains to a business issue I’ll post it there as well. I also occasionally ask questions, trying to get a conversation started.

How successful am I? Every once in awhile I’ll get one response; makes me wonder if people even see the content all that often, since Facebook’s timeline moves pretty fast, especially if you’re connected to a lot of people. Frankly, there’s a lot of effort for very little active return.

Is it a good marketing tool for me? I’d have to say no. Can it be a good marketing tool for others? Actually it can, and that’s proven by one of our local TV news stations. They’re pretty big on Facebook. They ask “the question of the day” and will put some of the responses on TV; people love that. They’ve hooked up with their own Groupon-like deals thing that they push through Facebook and people love that. They promote the page often during newscasts, even more than their own website, which has news but isn’t really all that interactive. And one of their top news announcers, a guy named Matt Mulcahy, has fully embraced social media as he’s also on Twitter, writes a blog, and shows up at a lot of local social media events when he doesn’t have to do the news.

For my purposes, it gives me backlinks to my blogs. Other than that there’s no real marketing on my end; nothing I can really do. I’m not sure what others think, but maybe if you have something more to offer you could share it here.
 

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Marketing – LinkedIn

LinkedIn is supposed to be used for business purposes. The very idea of LinkedIn is to be able to network with other business owners or people in certain industries to discuss business, or to network. Therefore, the way I see it, LinkedIn is a very viable place to try to make connections within your industries.

I have around 450 connections there. I know maybe 100 of them well enough so that I wouldn’t have to reach out to them again, which left me with about 350 contacts that I could look at and try to determine if there was some way I could work with them. I set about the task by starting at the beginning of the alphabet and looking at each name and what it is they did. I knew I wasn’t going to contact everyone the first time around; some, based on what they do, I won’t contact at all.

Going through this process was going to serve two things for me. One, it was going to help me determine who I should contact. Two, it was going to help me determine who I should drop. Some people theorize that the more connections you have the better. I’m not that guy, and as I’ve talked about culling the number of people I follow on Twitter based on how they use it and what they have to say, I’ve never really done the same thing with LinkedIn, and I’ve been there longer. So, as I started going through the list, I knew there were some people I was going to eliminate early, and some people I was going to eliminate later. What do I mean? I’ll come back to that.

In this case I didn’t create a list ahead of time. I figured that since I was on the site at the present time, and since you can’t send a group message to just anyone you’re connected to (actually you can but your message should be tailored to each individual so it doesn’t look like spam; LinkedIn hates that), I’d just go ahead and send my message. I created a couple of different scripted messages, but then I never used them. No matter, since the process of scripting helped me decide what I wanted to say anyway.

This was a 2-day process of going through all the names. In the end, I sent messages to close to 35 people, and I deleted around 30 people I was connected to. To date I’ve only heard from one person, someone I actually know who I hadn’t talked to in years and yet is in my field, so that doesn’t really count. The others…not a word. And if I don’t hear from any of those people within 2 weeks I’m going to my sent folder so I can identify them and I’m removing them from my list. I figure that if it takes that kind of effort to respond to a message on a business networking site then they’re either not really interested in that kind of thing, haven’t been to LinkedIn in awhile and thus don’t know what to do with the message, or really aren’t interested and don’t want to bother with me. In any of those cases, why stay connected? Agree or disagree?

And yes, this is marketing, online marketing but in a way more like email marketing. I made each message more of an introduction than a sales pitch because truthfully I figured I really didn’t know these people, no matter what it says on their LinkedIn page. After my first year on the site most people have connected to me first, so I figure it’s well within my right to try to connect with them now, since I added them when it was requested. But culling my list will take place, and I figure that when I go through the next round that I could be closer to 300 connections total. From where I sit, that’s not bad if I know those people.

And so it goes; thoughts?
 

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Real Marketing – Phone Calling

I thought I’d start off by talking about picking up the phone and making marketing calls. I’ll admit up front that I hate this part and I don’t think I’m all that good at it. However, in the long run I’m probably not as bad as I think I am, since I don’t stumble over my message, and though I don’t do tons of it I have done it before now.

Basically, before you make phone calls you have to have a few things lined up, if possible. The first step is to have two scripts to use. One is what you want to say if you have to leave a message. The other is what you want to say if you actually get to talk to a decision maker. If you get a secretary you pretty much use your phone message script; at least that’s what I do. The difference in the two doesn’t have to be drastic, but you want to make sure that when you’re leaving a message you leave your name and phone number, something you won’t always get to do when talking to someone on the phone.

The second step requires a little bit more work. You should try to find out the name of the person you’re calling before you start making calls. That’s a big part of my ritual. In health care, I know the person that makes the decision most of the time is either the chief financial officer or the vice president of finance. For other businesses I contact regarding SEO or social media projects, I look to speak to the owner. This little bit of preparation can help you in many ways, especially if you reach a secretary who’s been told to immediately eliminate anyone who doesn’t ask for a specific name. Actually, it’s how I eliminate people who send me requests to guest post on my finance blog, since it’s stated clearly in my guest post policy over there.

After that you start your calls and prepare for the worst. Yeah, I know, every sales and phone guru says go into every call with the expectation that you’re going to get them to agree with everything you have to say but I don’t buy that. Be upbeat, project confidence on the phone, but don’t kid yourself. On average, based on what I’ve read, it’s expected that you might get one contact out of every 100 calls, and actually get someone to purchase from you maybe by the 8th time you talk to them; ouch.

What have my last two weeks been like? Surprisingly not all that bad. No, I didn’t get a single legitimate bite, but I did have two people ask me to send them more information. I only had 2 people who were a bit rude, and I maybe got to talk to 20% of the people I called, much higher than I expected.

The one disappointment was a major one, and I’m going to talk about it. This is someone I’ve actually talked to before, twice. I’d also sent her literature on what I do and I sent her email when she told me to send her an email about a potential project. I hadn’t heard anything so I call her up and actually get her. She then tells me that they’d just had the project performed 2 weeks earlier and she tells me the name of the company. I look them up and they’re out of Florida. I’m in New York, less than 2 hours away, and I didn’t even get an opportunity to put in a bid for it? Yes, I was angry; obviously still am a little bit. Part of me is thinking that I should have gone over her head and tried to talk to the CEO, someone I’ve actually met in the past and it’s probable that he might remember me as well, but that’s always kind of a gutsy move. Another part of me is thinking that I’ll be removing her from my contact list because, well, that’s just not right.

That of course leads to something else that’s discouraging, but I might as well bring it up. For many things, especially services, it’s hard to get people to perceive you as adequate or qualified unless you’re from somewhere else. Most of the projects I’ve done, either in health care or online, have been for clients that don’t live within even 3 hours of where I live. I’ve been to NYC, Westchester County, New Jersey, Connecticut, Dallas, North Dakota, Alabama… a few other places. I’ve done online work for people in these area and let’s add Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Nebraska, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania… and more. Locally; only one health care project, a six-week thing back in 2005 and it happens they knew me because I’d worked there 10 years earlier; whew! And for web stuff… okay, more than one, but very few; strange.

Anyway, back to the phones. A strategy I just picked up from someone is that I should start with a list of 20 and should consistently call that list until I’ve gotten a “no” or some other commitment from them before moving on to the next group. Since I’ve made about 40 calls that might not be a bad strategy, since a couple of these folks I did call a second time. Hey, what do I have to lose, right?

Do you have a phone strategy you use? Any recommendations or comments on any of this, including the one that’s got me so irked?
 

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What Is Real Marketing?

Yesterday I said it was time to start talking about real marketing. You might ask “if you haven’t been doing real marketing, then just what are we talking about?” Good question; let’s get right into it.

telephone marketing
via Flickr

Real marketing is what real businesses do. It’s not just throwing up a website, optimizing it as good as you can, collecting email addresses and bombing people with sales messages, trying to get them to buy products that, for the most part, you didn’t create on your own and don’t have anything else to offer. I’m not dismissing that as a way to make money by the way, but it’s not marketing. It can lead up to marketing, but it’s not real marketing.

Real marketing is uncomfortable; there, I said it. Real marketing is picking up the phone and trying to get someone on the phone to even talk to you about the services or products you have to offer. Real marketing is writing marketing letters and sending them out to prospects, hoping that the people who receive them will open them up and even remember who you are 5 minutes later. Real marketing is going to networking events and trying to talk to people who could care less about you and what you have to offer because they’re trying to market themselves.

But that’s not all that real marketing is. Real marketing is also working the contacts you’ve met on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a business networking site after all. Real marketing is making connections with some of the people you meet on Twitter where they might have businesses that can benefit from what you have to offer, or at least might be able to make a connection for you.

These are the things that I need to start doing as much as anything I’ve done in the past. These are things I’m betting a lot of you probably need to start doing as well. To this end, last week I started working on one of the main real marketing things I absolutely hate doing, yet know I need to get it down, or at least get more comfortable with it.

That would be making phone calls. I hate the phone. I’ve hated the phone for years. I used to love the phone back in the days before we had things like robo-calling, telemarketing, and computers. Oh yeah, I remember the days when it cost people money to make phone calls so you didn’t have marketing by phone. Telemarketing; didn’t happen. Computers… nice diversion, that’s for sure. Once I had other things to do, I stopped enjoying the phone like I had before.

Also, marketing by phone can feel emasculating, like you don’t have any control at all. Even if your sales message is sound, you might not get the opportunity to use it. You may get voice mail; you might get blocked by a secretary. Or you might get someone who doesn’t want to be bothered by your sales call; who can’t identify with that?

Still, it has to be done by some of us. I know I need to work my way through it if I want to succeed. What’s success for me? It’s having the ability to buy whatever I want, when I want, where I want. It’s never having to worry about paying my bills again. I think that’s about it. I don’t want to be a millionaire; I want to be a ten-millionaire!

So, we do what it takes to get there. We all have to be willing to go that extra mile, that next step, to reach our dreams. Yes, I believe in the laws of attraction, but they don’t say to sit around doing nothing and have things come your way.

I ask you; what challenges do you have, if any, in making phone calls to hawk your wares or services? How do you hope to get beyond it, or if you’ve gotten beyond it, how did you do it?
 

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