Written By: Jason Coleman, CTC, ECC, CLS, LCS, DS, Business Development Manager/MentorU Coach – UNIGLOBE Travel Center
Most travel agents I know are always looking for new clients to work with. They advertise, post on Facebook, ask for referrals, and table at various shows to make new contacts and grow their client list. They try lots of different things, some of which are not really in line with their overall goal and they get easily distracted.
Imagine if you had just one goal, and all of your strategies were laser focused on accomplishing that goal. How much more successful could your business be? Chances are very good that you could hit your goal if you were concentrated and intent. But even if you came up short, your business would surely benefit and you’d be moving forward in new ways.
GET CLIENTS NOW! is a marketing book by author C.J. Hayden. Billed as “a 28-day Marketing Program for Professionals,” the book is written for solo entrepreneurs and other independent service consultants. It is not a general marketing book or written for those who sell physical products. Hayden’s approach is simple, straight forward, yet fully customized. That simplicity makes it extremely powerful. It’s a book I’ve had on my shelf for a few years, and I recently had occasion to reread it and put its principles into practice.
The book starts by outlining four common problems shared by consultants and service professionals. Do you and your business currently have one (or more) of these problems?
- Not knowing enough people to contact (filling the pipeline)
- Knowing plenty of people, but not contacting them regularly (following up)
- Contacting people, but not getting a chance to sell (having sales conversations)
- Having sales conversations, but not getting sales (closing sales)
We all experience one of these problems at one time or another. In fact, I go through phases where I have each of them, and other times I have them all at once! These challenges align with the stages of the marketing cycle. The action plan you develop as part of Hayden’s program is focused on one goal, one stage of the marketing cycle, one overarching area of your business that needs work.
According to the author, the secret of successful professional services marketing is to “choose a set of simple, effective things to do, and do them consistently.” She identifies six strategies for marketing professional services, listed here from most effective to least effective:
- Direct contact and follow-up
- Networking and referral building
- Public speaking
- Writing and publicity
- Promotional events
The most effective strategies are at the top of that list; they are those that are closest to your target audience. They are those that are more likely to result in personal relationships between consultant and buyer. Those in the bottom half of the list are less personal and relationship-oriented. However, picking strategies that are close to your audience and effective also must be done consistently. And in order to do that, you have to like what you’re doing. Who does things regularly that they dislike?
Once you’ve identified where you’re stuck, you can pick the strategies you’ll use to address the problem. Marketing strategies should fall into one of two buckets: things you like to do and things that you are especially good at doing, ideally your activities tick both criteria. No one should do something because you’ve heard it’s a “must have” or something that you must be doing. That’s a recipe for failure. Marketing projects and activities should be things that play to your strengths and you enjoy doing. Otherwise you’re going to dread doing it, it’s something that you put off, and something you likely won’t do well. A key to consistency is doing things you enjoy and doing them over and over again.
Hayden says that marketing is “telling people what you do, over and over.” The heart of the 28-day marketing program is a set of 10 daily activities that align with three elements:
- Your overall goal
- The stage of the marketing cycle you’re focused on
- Your chosen marketing strategies
Doing the same things over four weeks will no doubt product some kind of result. Interestingly, not all of your results will be directly related to your primary objective. Sometimes happy coincidences happen along the way. Since you’re now laser focused on a specific goal, you will no doubt start to notice when things happen and why. Instead of being surprised and reacting, having your marketing radar on allows you to take note in a more thoughtful way.
Tracking your daily actions and progress is an important part of this program. Measuring your activities and seeing the impact on your results can help you make decisions going forward. Perhaps your initial goal or actions were too ambitious or aggressive. Don’t beat yourself up and stall along the way. Tweak your goal. Adjust your daily activities. Measure and track if you are making progress.
The last part of the program that I find extremely important is the element of reward and setting yourself up for success. Your brain can’t always be only focused on the tasks in front of you. Motivation and reward are a necessary part of achieving success. It is essential to pick an immediate reward, something physical or tangible that dangles in front of you and motivates you to continue moving forward. It doesn’t have to be something big, but it must be immediate. Your brain must associate the reward with the action(s). For example, my reward is to treat myself to a massage and spa day. It’s something I’d enjoy within a couple days of completing my program. And celebrate your effort, don’t only celebrate achieving your goal. It’s important to remember that picking a goal and focusing on strategies and actions aligned to that goal will move your business forward. Celebrate that, even if you fall a little short of your overall goal.
I have found C.J. Hayden’s 28-day marketing program transformational in my business. I’m confident you’d benefit from it as well. I highly recommend GET CLIENTS NOW! as essential reading for your travel professional services business. If you’re interested in reading the book and joining an informal book club discussion group with other travel agents, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be facilitating a reading and discussion of the book during the month of June. I’d love to have you join me!