Double down on what’s already working.

11 Steps I Recommend to My Marketing Clients

Consistency trumps everything in marketing. Consistency and authenticity.

But you may still be wondering what to do? With what marketing strategies or tactics should you stay consistent?

Let’s start with my favorite marketing exercise, which I recommend because it reveals what, if anything, is already working.

How did you get your last 5–10 project leads or clients?

My Leads droplane in Trello and recent invoices in Harvest give me the following insights into types of project and the way they came to me:

  • Consulting — Referral from another freelancer (copywriter who I have worked with on and off for years)
  • Marketing Collateral — Referral from existing client (one marketing director gave my name to another marketing director in the same company)
  • Coaching — Two new coaching clients (freelancers who heard me speak at an event)
  • Consulting — Business owner who attended SPACE Retreat
  • Copywriting — Repeat business from existing client (business owner who hires me on an as needed basis)
  • Consulting — Referral from a friend
  • Copywriting — Dev team who built several mobile apps for me hired me to rewrite their web content

Double down on what’s already working.

You may look closer at your most recent project leads and notice, tangled up in all those details, a repeatable process.

  1. I have on multiple occasions gotten new clients after I hosted an event (like SPACE Retreat or various workshops) or spoke at a conference (like DYFConf or Reunion).
  2. Freelancers whom I hire later send me leads.
  3. Existing clients do send me repeat business and referrals.

So… what is already working for you?

We have this tendency to chase shiny marketing objects.

“Everybody’s on Snapchat? Gary V says everybody should be on Snapchat. Maybe I should be on Snapchat…”

You hop on a bandwagon, crowded with people shouting through megaphones, and later, you wonder why your pipeline dried up.

Then, you have a panic attack.

Then, you rustle up some new freelance work the old-fashioned way, by reconnecting with old clients and following up with every glimmer of a lead.

(While you’re in hardcore sales and outreach mode, you don’t set aside time for Snapchat.)

You’re desperate so you pursue any project with a pulse, even if it is boring and the client talked you down on price. But you make just enough to pay your bills that month, and you’re okay… for now.

I don’t have Albert Einstein’s IQ, but I will attempt to diagnose your problem.

You stopped doing what was working six months ago, which was going to all the startup events in town. You switched to Snapchat.

Snapchat didn’t work right away, so you started mining your existing network.

Whatever potential Snapchat had for you disappears — POOF! — when you give it up faster than a fad diet.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The problem wasn’t your lead-in strategy—whether startup events, Snapchat, or repeat business. The problem was your lack of commitment.

Most marketing strategies take awhile to play out, yet we treat them like diets.

“If I don’t see results right away, I quit” is the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk approach — that is, a fairy tale.

You must give yourself adequate time — say, twelve to twenty-four months — to see what happens. How often do positive, sustainable changes take root overnight?

My friend Ashley Greene at Instratify Consulting would tell you that even growth hacking with startups is hard work.

You can’t get around the hard work. And anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling you something.

What would you start doing differently today if you stopped looking for quick fixes?

Here are the eleven steps that I recommend to my marketing clients:

  1. Write out notes, by hand, about how your last ten leads came to you.
  2. Write out notes, by hand, about how your last ten clients came to you.
  3. Identify any patterns or repeatable processes.
  4. Make a list of your current marketing activities. Which of them have generated leads? Which of them haven’t? Have you given them enough time and effort to play out?
  5. Formalize a strategy around one or two of those patterns or processes.
  6. Commit to a timeframe — between twelve and twenty-four months.
  7. Pick specific tactics and to-dos to support each strategy.
  8. Define success. What does it look like? More leads? More projects? Higher per-project value? Higher volume of a certain type of project?
  9. Set specific, measurable goals.
  10. Add quarterly appointments to your calendar. During these planning or analysis appointments you will evaluate each strategy and any results. Is it working? Why or why not? Should you shuffle your tactics?
  11. Stick to the plan.

I’ll share an example of one of my plans.

446,147 Words in 2017

At the end of 2015, I stumbled across several blog posts in quick succession. All of them hinted at the blogger’s writing praxis. One post came from Nathan Barry—*I think*—and others came from Paul Jarvis, Jeff Goins, and Chris Brogan—*I think*.

The rough outline of the epiphany was this: Commit to writing one blog post a week for twenty-four months.

All these bloggers, thought leaders, and Internet celebrities (at least, they seemed cool to me) drew a line in the sand. They stopped believing they could get where they wanted to go without a non-negotiable commitment.

In late 2015 I committed to blogging weekly for twenty-four months — 2016 and 2017.

I have sailed far past the initial goal of 104 blog posts. I’ve written nearly that many in the last 90 days, and as of today, I have written 446,147 in 2017. That comes out to about 1,312 words per day.

Was all that writing fun? No.

Writing when you’d much rather go to bed isn’t “fun.”

Daily discipline is the way to achieve any significant goal, but any discipline loses its sheen. Now that I’m in the 24th month of my own 24-month commitment, I can attest to that.

Half of my blog posts felt more like falling across the finish line than pumping my fist. Even so, I have lost count of the number of business opportunities that blogging — consistent blogging — has created for me.

Get this: Most of those opportunities showed up in Year 2.

Each onerous week was a building block. By early 2017 I had an edifice. Or perhaps the building’s shell.

Was the commitment worth it? Yes.

Was the commitment easy? No.

In hindsight do I wish it had been easier? No. If it were easy, everyone would do it. If consistent marketing were easy, everyone would do it. Then, the game would change.

Do something today.

Strategies and tactics come and go, and by all means stop doing what isn’t working.

The right discipline, not the right strategy, will separate you from the pack. Only discipline can reveal working strategy, and only discipline can later declare it defunct.

Unusual discipline generates unusual results.

You already know this. (I know, I don’t like it either.) You don’t get to where everyone wants to be if you do what everyone does.

Double down on what’s already working. Give your strategy time to play out. Ditch it when it’s dead, not when you’re bored.

Do you want to get serious about your marketing today?

A good next step is to use my “Attracting Better Clients” worksheet to rethink your marketing and to start connecting with the freelance clients you actually want — that is, the ones who will pay you what you’re worth.

Click this link to share your name and email address, and I’ll send you the download link for the worksheet.

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