Thursday, November 8, 2012


Does it seem like there are just too many things to do to market your business? It's easy to get overwhelmed by marketing ideas, plans, and tasks, especially when many of them involve learning new skills. And then people are always telling you about something else to do. But you're only one person. You can only afford to pay for so much help. Is it really even possible to do everything about marketing that others say you should?

Here are four steps to find a clear path out of marketing overwhelm.

1. Decide what you're offering.

One of the fastest ways to overcome overwhelm is to narrow your focus to marketing only one product or service at a time. Yes, you may have a complete menu of offerings, but you can't effectively market them all at once. The more clear you are about what you are marketing to who, and when, the less overwhelmed you will be.

Every time you have to make a choice about what to do with your marketing, first choose what you will offer. For example, if you are a psychotherapist who offers individual therapy, group programs, and paid presentations, you might be trying to decide whether to market yourself with networking, building referral relationships, advertising, social media, or public speaking. Each one of those might be a good approach to use, depending on what you are offering.

Narrow your focus. Choose. For example, "This week I want to work on getting more clients for individual therapy." As soon as you make that declaration, you will have a frame of reference for making more decisions. Now you can ask yourself questions like, "How have I found most individual therapy clients in the past?" or "How do most of my colleagues find their individual therapy clients?" A likely route for you to take will start to emerge.

2. Get clear about your immediate goals.

What do you need more of right now? What is coming up soon that you should prepare for? What problems do you need to address? Questions like these can help you determine what your primary objectives should be for marketing at this particular time. Here's what a marketing goal might sound like:
  • One new major client by the end of this month.
  • Three new ongoing clients by December 31st.
  • Take advantage of next week's speaking engagement to sign up at least two new clients for my service.
  • Increase the number of website visitors who opt in to my mailing list by 25%.
Including a quantity and timeframe in your goal will help you determine the best way to accomplish it. For example, if you want one new major client by the end of the month, it's unlikely you will achieve that by attending networking events or increasing your social media activity. You will more likely need to focus on following up with prospects you already have, and further developing existing relationships.

3. Choose just a few specific things to do.

When you have a long list of varied tasks to accomplish, it's difficult not to feel overwhelmed by it. This is especially true when some of the items are stated in a vague or general way. Consider what you plan to offer and what your immediate goal is. What are a few activities that are most likely to take you in that direction? Get as specific as possible. For example:
  • Contact three new possible referral sources for individual clients this week and invite them to coffee sometime this month.
  • Place follow-up phone calls to five prospective clients for my monthly retainer service per day and send an email when I don't reach them.
  • Spend 30 minutes each day interacting on social media with people who are likely candidates for my new program.
  • Write a 20-page ebook that will appeal to clients for my assessment package to use as a bonus gift for opting in to my mailing list.
Resist any temptation to record every activity you can think of. List what seems like about a week's worth of items, then stop. Revisit your list next week to revise or add to it. If you think of items you'd like to address sometime, but which don't make sense to tackle this week, put them on a "Maybe" list that you can refer to weekly when you revise your current list. Don't keep looking at ideas or tasks you aren't currently working on; that is a sure road to overwhelm.

4. Do only what you said.

Give yourself permission to have the activities you put on this week's list be the only things you do about marketing. This can be one of the most difficult challenges of avoiding marketing overwhelm, but it's essential. Don't be distracted by "opportunities" that find their way into your email, voice mail, or social media stream. If they seem potentially helpful, put them on your Maybe list, and consider them next week. This week, and today, do only what you said you'd do.

Marketing does not need to be overwhelming. All you need is a simple, targeted plan. Follow these four steps, and you'll soon find yourself producing greatly improved results with much less effort.

Copyright © 2012, C.J. Hayden

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