Yeah, I know too many of you have kind-of a “no” answer to that, at least in terms of any kind of plan. Many of my editing, book indexing, and design colleagues are introverts who would much rather deal with clients one at a time, do the work, and collect their fee than play the sales game. That’s supposed to be for those extroverted manipulators, salespeople.
Actually, this extrovert doesn’t like traditional advertising, or traditional sales with its focus on pressuring people to “close the deal.” I’ve certainly spent a lot of time agonizing about and also avoiding the “cold-call,” the “follow-up call,” any interaction that means interrupting an individual stranger.
But ya know, if you are invisible, no one will be able to benefit from your talent and work ethic. Once you have experience you may be able to rely on referrals for most of your business, but after my almost-twenty years in business for myself, I’ve seen massive shifts in the publishing industry that have made my old clients “invisible” and have caused me to scramble like a newbie to find other sources for work.
And let’s face it, the employment picture is not that different from running your own business these days. Most jobs don’t last more than five or ten years, and then you have to “sell” your skills and talents again. So there’s really no escape from marketing.
I think the key to successfully marketing a business now in the age of information and digital connectivity is to find a marketing method niche that feels natural to you. There are actually many more ways to be visible than ever before, and that intimacy of interacting with individuals rather than simply broadcasting your wares through advertising is actually “in,” especially in social media. Just by joining some LinkedIn groups and asking/answering questions, you can subtly present yourself as the expert you are and actually find clients. Remember that you don’t have to belong to every social network to be successful. Find three you will really use and you’ll be fine.
So, it’s not so bad, really!
And there’s still a place for paper contact. I got in the habit several years ago of sending postcard once a year to established and prospective publishing clients, and with everyone so inundated with email and other digital communications, a physical postcard…in_the_mail(!) can be quite refreshing and may stand out from other communications. Ironic after all these years of having your letters and resumes lost in piles, but there it is.
It’s all about interacting, not just broadcasting. A client of mine, a very successful business negotiator, said that the most important thing to remember when dealing with potential clients is to focus on asking questions about them, rather than focusing on blurting out all the stuff you can do. By asking questions first, you can see whether and how your talents match with their needs. Really! Have a conversation. 🙂 You might want to initiate that conversation in different ways regularly, though, along with making yourself visible through a website, etc.
Can you pledge at least once a week to participate in an online or offline conversation that includes potential clients or folks who can refer work to you? Let me know in the comments what your best practices are.
More Publishing Perspectives
WebistesInWP has a good recent article on marketing trends in general (I like the focus on storytelling), but be aware that they go in for those sign-up pop-up things quite a bit…
And, along the lines of client communication but not about marketing per se, Sara Donaldson’s bit over on her Northern Editorial blog on setting boundaries with said clients so you can have a relatively “sane” work life. 🙂