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Time-Proven Methods To Balance The Marketing Mix
By Marjorie Brody   Printer Friendly Version

Although some speakers and consultants make a living by word of mouth, most of us mere mortals (beginners as well as seasoned pros) require marketing to be successful. Personally, I use a marketing mix to enhance my visibility, thus expanding my business.

The 10 methods I have found to be most effective are:

1) Have something to say -- and be good on the platform

You can do all the marketing in the world, but if you haven't selected your USP -- unique selling point -- then it's money down the drain.

What are your areas of expertise? You need to select a topic or topics that you can talk about confidently and expertly, then get out there and give presentations until your name is synonymous with the subject.

2) Have good materials

How do you let people know that you are the expert to call for keynotes? Use high quality materials.

All speakers need to have two sets of materials ready to send at a moment's notice; both need to include a demo videotape. One set should have your complete contact information -- name, address, toll-free number, fax number, e-mail address and web page. The other set should be "bureau friendly" -- with no contact information listed; allowing the bureau to put their seal or stamp on it.

Whatever you decide to put your name on should be high quality merchandise. If you decide to buy cheaper paper stock or use a discount printer, just remember -- you'll always get what you pay for.

3) Develop lasting business relationships with clients

Clients are more than just a source of income. Establish yourself as an extension of their efforts - help them solve problems and satisfy their needs. Go the extra step -- if you can't help, refer them to someone who possibly can.

If you can create a lasting relationship with your clients, it becomes easier to go deep within an organization. Some companies have offices across the country. If you become established with one region and meet their needs, you will have an easier time approaching others.

4) Ask for referrals

Many speakers are reluctant to ask for referrals from their satisfied clients. Bill Cates, author of Unlimited Referrals, says that not asking happy clients for referrals is like discovering a gold mine, but never going in to mine its treasures.

Cates says you can get referrals without coming right out and asking by "planting seeds." He explains, "The seeds go into their unconscious, take root, and blossom into referrals later. Put 'Don't keep me a secret' as your P.S. in letters. Tell them you want to earn the right to be connected to who they know by doing a great job for them."

When you ask for a referral, Cates says that you should not come from a ME place, but rather, a WE place. It might sound something like, "Mary, I'm glad your members were happy with my program. I have an important question to ask you. Do you mind if we took a moment to explore who else might benefit from my message?" If they say yes, and almost all of them will, then you can suggest names, companies, other associations, etc., whom they are likely to know.

Cates usually begins looking for internal referrals. For instance, if
it's a national association meeting planner, he'll ask for referrals to state and regional associations and to high profile members of the association. If it's a corporate executive, he'll first probe for other divisions within that company. "Make sure you also get a testimonial letter from your happy client, and have it ready to send to your new prospects," says Cates.

5) Keep in front of buyers' eyes

How do you stay on the top of clients and prospects' collective minds? By keeping your name out there - consider publishing a newsletter, for example.

Even a one-page newsletter can be an effective means to market yourself and services. You can print this in house or with a local printer, depending on your budget. A newsletter can also be e-mailed to clients and prospects on a regular basis. Similarly, you can send e-mail tips to clients and prospects.

A good way to make sure your name is known is to advertise - whether through traditional means like radio, TV and print advertising, or in certain industry specific directories. I have found media guides to be highly successful -- they see my name, areas of expertise, then call to interview me. The result? An impressive list of appearances in articles in papers ranging from The Washington Post and USA Today to stories in Business Marketing and Men's Health magazines - and you never know who sees these articles.

Another way to keep in front of buyers' eyes is to determine who you need as advocates, then target them on a regular basis. Who are advocates? Decision makers who can book you or refer you to others who can. They are avid supporters, those who know what you can do. You should touch base with these advocates monthly -- send them small gifts (a book you wrote, for example), articles relevant to their industries, a holiday greeting card, etc.

6) Write/write/write!

One of the best ways for you to market yourself is to be perceived as an expert. A sure way of doing this is to write. When you write, you also create product, passive income.

Author Tim Connor, CSP, says, "There are advantages to a product that either reinforces your message for the audience or helps you close (for you non-sales types, that means getting booked) the sale." Tim's first book, Soft Sell, was the basis for his workbook for a two-day public sales seminar. This seminar became the foundation for his two six-cassette albums. Those six-cassette albums became the foundation for his 12-cassette audio series Soft Sell Sales Course. As Tim explains, "I am sure you get my point. Everything you do should feed something else or preferably everything else you do. In this business, we are all too busy to recreate new stuff each time we sit down at our computer."

What advice does Art Sobczak, a specialist in telesales training, and editor and publisher of Telephone Selling Report, offer speakers about writing? "Read like a maniac. Especially from the perspective of your targeted audience. Keep a clip file for ideas you want to expand onů Make a commitment to write something regularly, whether it be daily, weekly or monthly. Then package it in a newsletter, articles to publications your audience reads, and also into products."

"Speakers who don't write are one dimensional," Sobczak believes. "They're contractors selling their time and that's it. Writing leverages that time and creates revenue-generating products which are sold over and over, promotes all aspects of your business, plus forces you to be on the cutting edge of your topic."

7) Develop a web site (have lots of link and search engine listings)

To effectively compete in today's marketplace, speakers need to be on line. Since they are on the road a lot, e-mail is already a must-have for speakers. But having a Web page is also important. By having an address in cyberspace, you are doing passive marketing.

Sure, there's an initial outflow of cash to design and set up a Web page, and you may also need to pay someone for hosting the site if you do not have the necessary computer hardware. But once the site is established, what a great way to market yourself and services!

But remember: People can't visit your site unless they are aware of it. Contact non competing colleagues. See if they would like to cross link their pages to yours. You should also contact speakers bureaus and other speaking-related sites to investigate link possibilities.

Once your page is ready for mass viewing, e-mail all the search engines with the key words related to your site. For those who don't know, search engines (Yahoo, Lycos and Excite are three examples) are mechanisms people who "surf" the Web use to find sites of interest. So, if your area of expertise is business etiquette and you do speaking and training, you want your site to be listed when a search is done for the words "business etiquette," "etiquette," "speaker" and "trainer."

8) Network everywhere

I find that business travel is one of my easiest ways to drum up new business. Here are seven tips that I use to network:
  • Join airline clubs. Many business executives like to relax in these members-only lounges before and after flights.
  • Travel first class -- use your upgrades!
  • Talk to people on airport courtesy vans to pick up rental cars or get to hotels.
  • Strike up a conversation on planes. One good opening line is: "Is take off home base or landing? If neither, then you say, "Oh, where are you from? Are you traveling for business or pleasure? What type of business are you in?"
  • If they don't pick up on the conversation, let it go. Try one more time when food is served.
  • Be sure to get their business card - and write notes about the meeting on the back.
  • Remember, it's all in the follow-up. Keep in touch!

9) Be easy to work with

People don't want to do business with those who treat them poorly. It is imperative that as a professional you (and your staff) demonstrate good customer service. Ask clients for feedback. Find out if there are problem areas, and address them quickly. Make dealing with you a burden-free experience.

Tips to remember:

  • Be responsive. When asked for information, provide it promptly.
  • If asked for something that seems unreasonable, maintain a pleasant and conciliatory attitude, even if you must say no.
  • Regularly check voice mail and answering machines. Return phone calls promptly.
  • Regularly check e-mails and respond promptly. Just because these are electronic messages, does not in any way diminish their importance.
  • Call in to hear how your phones are answered. Change any poor phone mannerisms.

10) Become a "mini celebrity"

How do you become a mini celebrity and successful? Excellent public relations. Develop your own PR kit, which needs to include a color picture (but have black and white for media requests), personal biography, company profile, client list, articles about you and the firm, references and recommendation letters.

Make sure you send out news releases to all media - radio, TV and print -- whenever you produce a new book or receive an award/honor.

By applying a combination of my 10 methods for an effective marketing mix you, too, can be well on your way to success

Article copyright© Brody Communications Ltd. 1999

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