Friday, November 6, 2009

Advice Can Take You Only So Far.

I've been reading a lot lately about what works and what doesn't in sales and marketing. And I've been getting a lot of contradictory advice. One book says joining your local Chamber of Commerce is critical. Another says Chambers of Commerce are often packed full of mom-and-pop business owners who don't know what a copywriter does. One says cold-calling is critical; another says the best way to get business is with a complicated, multi-step direct mail campaign. So who should you listen to?

It's tough to sort it all out. Here are a few things I'm keeping in mind as I market:

There's no teacher like experience. All the great advice in your favorite writers' marketing book may not apply to your area or specialty. The only way to figure this out in a way that's specific to you is to try a lot of different things, see what works and see what fails miserably. Then keep sticking with what works.

Stick with your talents. Love networking? Then follow your bliss. Hate cold calling? You can get business without it. Just because some guru advocates a certain marketing method doesn't mean that's the one you should follow. You can try lots of different things, but the marketing method that's easiest for you is likely the one you'll stick with long-term.

Don't invest a lot of money at first. You don't need a slick direct mail package and a list of thousands of prospects yet. Start small--mail something simple to a couple hundred. This will keep costs down while you figure out what works and what doesn't. And don't forget about free marketing options like email and phone.

It's tough to become a marketing expert just by reading a few books. You need hands-on experience--so go out there and try, and see where it gets you. If you keep putting yourself out there consistently, you'll find the business.


Unknown said...

So cold calling didn't go that well, eh? :)) Totally agree here. What works for you may not work for him may not work for me, etc., etc.

I think the only truism in marketing is to keep evolving your approach. If today's method isn't working, try something else tomorrow. And don't be afraid to go back later to the ones that didn't work. Different clients respond to different methods.

Devon Ellington said...

Yeah, I agree with you and Lori -- we each have to create our own best way to work, and that's always growing and changing.

I loathe the telephone, so I don't cold call.

I love direct mail pieces -- and, actually, the follow up postcards generate more work than the original piece.

And I find the Mom-and-Pop business at the local chamber of commerce have more respect and pay more reliably than most corporate clients, who try to nickel-and-dime, and low ball.

But other people have other experiences.

Mike Chen said...

I think Chambers are luck of the draw. I've been ghostwriting the annual magazine for one of the bigger local Chambers for a few years now, and that's prime exposure to basically all Chamber members. It's got me one client the whole time -- the Chamber itself!

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