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Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Marketing for the Solo Entrepreneur

I have enjoyed working with the owner of a small consulting business here in West Virginia. Trish, the owner, is an intelligent, witty and compassionate entrepreneur. Her business is to provide educational consulting services in the areas of character and ethics--vital education for business leaders, change agents and non-profit executives.

Like many small businesses, Trish had some hesitation working with a marketing firm. No wonder! She probably thought we would advise her to spend tens of thousands of dollars on advertising. Au contrere!

When a business is new and does not have beau coups bucks to spend on marketing, it makes sense to spend wisely and frugally. And that's just what we've done. We have not spent a penny on advertising, publicity or promotions yet. We might never ... only if we have to, will we advertise. Why? Her market is very tightly defined and concentrated. Plus, she can't afford it right now.

Instead, our approach has been to define, create, organize and construct her marketing and sales process. In my vernacular, we're building the marketing and sales toolkits. And we're doing so in bootstrap fashion. We are planning and organizing (in advance) the conversations that will occur about her subject matter and services.

The thought process is to conduct marketing to get folks interested enough to call or e-mail Trish for more information. We've used a Web site, speaking engagements, earned media and after much prodding, pleading and persuading (from me), she has begun blogging, too! In addition to these tools, Trish has been very actively networking and prospecting at conferences and training events.

Marketing puts the ball in play. Sales takes it the rest of the way. The second, most important step, is the sales process. To me, it is all about being ready when the prospect comes calling ... or e-mailing. Without such preparation in the area of sales--conversation, planning, tool kit--all marketing is wasted time, money and effort.

Our work here has been about helping Trish to decide what she will give, show and tell her prospects to convert their curiosity and interest into a contract or sale.
For Trish the sales toolkit consists primarily of a very clever and gorgeously designed un-bound brochure, which we call the "no-chure." This tool, which consists of a series stack of twelve custom-designed and cleverly written cards, accompanied by a unique, gorgeous over-printed carrier envelope, can be used for direct mail, face-to-face selling and trade shows. Each card can also be used individually on a stand-alone basis for specific conversations.

Another fundamentally important tool in any sales toolkit is the proposal package. We've spent hours working on this too--format, content, presentation, word choice, and colors. We have devoted much thought and focus to the presentation of her credentials and references and testimonials, too. Anyone in the consulting business better be prepared to demonstrate convincingly that she's qualified and competent.

Trish is ready. She has the marketing toolkit. She has the sales toolkit. She understands the process and how to use the various tools.

Ready for the very important, happy ending ... ?

Trish just sent me an e-mail from the conference she's presently attending. She closed a big, juicy deal with a prospect. Her Web site and her brochure helped clinch it, she said.

Wow! It is a thing of beauty when the magical, methodical marketing process helps a business owner make more money. Growth! Success!

(Trish- if you're reading this, congratulations -- and many more!)

1 Comments:

Blogger trish hatfield said...

Skip ~ It is a bit of a surprise to see the story of our convivial collaboration written up in cyberspace. (Listen, folks, I didn’t really need to be convinced, coddled, or cajoled into blogging…I was just, um, you know…well, I had other things to do!) And at the same time, why wouldn’t we want to share what’s working for us and which may very well work for others?

As a result of our work together, which has included bringing me up to speed in terms of marketing savvy (e.g., marketing as an willingness to let my light shine) and the development of jazzy tools (No-Chure) and virtual venues (www.characterethics.com and www.characterethics.blogspot.com), I now have a far greater capacity than a year ago to connect with prospective clients in a positive way. And you’ve managed to do this within my current budgetary parameters. Bravo! Thank You!

I wish I could accurately capture how good it felt this week to refer four new prospective clients to my website as each time we concluded our exploratory conversations. I am a new entity and the website enables me to give them a place to go to for further information.

The “plumbing” infrastructure provided by the materials produced in the partnership between MapleCreative and CharacterEthics allows the “poetry” of what I have to offer to be heard. (See Skip’s blog, “Marketing is Poetry and Plumbing”).

What better evidence of the viability of this partnership than the engagement of a new client the same week as the launch of the website? Ew, Oo - high five, wink of the eye, thumbs up, nod of the head…arm in arm.

(Skip ~ When you read this, congratulations back to you for bringing me and my purpose so far along in such a short time!)

2:36 AM

 

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