"It's just not working," my client said dejectedly. "I've been doing exactly what the experts say — networking, building referrals, following up, but I still have only a handful of clients. I'm thinking about giving up and getting a job."
"How long have you been doing this?" I asked her. "How long have you been following this approach in the way you are now?"
She considered. "Two months, I think, since I really started marketing this way. Before that, I was mostly running ads and trying to get website traffic."
"Do you think that's long enough?"
She thought for a moment. "Probably not. I do have some new clients, but I guess it might take a little longer to build relationships and trust, and get to know people better. Then I might start seeing a bigger impact."
"Right," I replied. "You should probably give it a bit more time before you declare it a failure. Especially since you've already seen some success."
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"Did you call them?" I asked.
"I sent an email," he replied. They didn't respond."
"Suppose for a moment that the deal hasn't fallen through," I suggested. "What could be some other reasons you haven't heard from them?"
He paused. "Well, maybe they haven't made a decision yet. Or maybe there's a crash project that put this on the back burner for a bit. Or maybe the department head went on vacation."
"So what do you think should you do?"
"I should keep following up with them." He chuckled. "I guess I don't really know what's going on until they tell me."
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"What is it you can't do?" I asked.
"I can't go to these networking things and meet people," she sighed. "I just freeze up. I don't know what to say."
"Is that all there is to marketing? Going to networking things?"
She thought about it. "No, there's a lot of different ways to market."
I probed some more. "Are there some of those you ARE good at?"
"Sure," she replied. "I'm good at talking to people one-on-one, once I know them, I mean."
"So are there some people you know that you could talk to one-on-one who might help build your business?"
She brightened. "Yeah, a bunch of them! You mean I could stop going to those awful networking things and just talk to people I already know?"
"Isn't that also called networking?" I asked.
She laughed. "Yeah, I guess it is. But that kind I can do!"
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If you market yourself consistently using proven approaches, if you follow up persistently with prospective clients over time, and if you seek out ways to market that feel natural to you, you will see results. In fact, when your marketing starts to work, it often seems almost miraculous, because clients start to appear as if by magic.
But if you allow yourself to be deterred because you don't get immediate results, to feel rejected when all that happened is you didn't get an answer, or tell yourself you're a failure just because there are some areas where you don't shine, this "magic" won't happen.
It's kind of like baking a cake. Mix some flour, milk, butter, eggs, baking powder, sugar, and flavorings, put it in the oven for a bit, and miraculously, it turns into a cake. But if you neglect to measure out the ingredients and stir them together, don't let it bake long enough, or give up halfway through because you've never made a cake before, the miracle never has a chance to occur.
Marketing isn't rocket science. It's much more like baking. The recipe goes like this: Be consistent. Persist. Believe in yourself.
Then don't give up before the miracle.
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