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Marketing in a Down Market

by Robert Middleton

The InfoGuru Marketing Principle of sharing what you know and giving away lots of free information still applies. Only you need to do more of it.

You can break the InfoGuru Principle into its two main components:

1. Value

2. Visibility

Add Value - That is, communicate more clearly about the value that you offer. And offer value in every single communication. Don't spend a lot of time trying to sell and persuade. Spend most of the time sharing information your prospects can really use.

Everything about your business can be divided into two broad categories - Process and Solutions. Process is what you do, it's your "facilitation services" and your "executive coaching." Most of us fall into the trap of talking all about that stuff. After all, it's what we know best.

But guess what? your prospects couldn't care less about your processes. They are thinking, "what's in it for me?" They want to know about your solutions. You're talking value when you're talking solutions. Here's a few way to do that:

1. Share tips, techniques and strategies. Hands-on stuff that works to help your clients succeed in their organizations. From basic to sophisticated, make sure it's stuff that really works.

2. Share stories and case studies of what you've done for your clients. Be specific. Tell about how it was before they hired you and what it's like now that you've produced the result.

3. Make unambiguous promises, not about what you will do, but what will be different once you've done it. I know this takes some serious thinking, but if you can't promise anything that makes a difference to my bottom line, why should I spend money with you?

4. Re-invent and re-configure your services when things change in the marketplace. A service that sold in an up market may not do as well in a down market. If you always do exactly the same thing in the same way your perception of value erodes.

After Value comes Visibility. You need to get your name, your message, your solutions out there for people to see and hear. In a downturn the tendency is often for people to hide their heads in the sand and hope things will change.

This is the exact opposite of what you need to do. If your business is slower, this is a great time to put that extra time to work with more marketing activities. Here's a few of the most important.

1. Get your web site fine tuned. If you don't have one, now's the time! I keep stats on my web site and know exactly where my visitors go. This gives me the information I need to change my copy and my links to direct people to the sections that make me money. Very simple, but how many people do it?

2. Launch that eZine. Your web site is your marketing vehicle. The eZine is the gas in that vehicle. It's what gets people to take action. My main marketing focus is very simple: increase subscribers to my eZine.

One of the things that works to increase subscribers is putting little ads in other people's eZines. A week ago I got 150 new subscribers in one day by only spending $75.

3. Get out and speak. This may be the highest leverage marketing activity for InfoGurus. I guarantee that if you set your mind to doing a talk to a professional or industry group or conference once a month, you'd start generating some very good clients in short order. Stop making excuses. Do a little research on organizations and then pick up the phone. They key to getting bookings? Your materials need to reek with value!

So whether the economy is up or down, the two cornerstones of InfoGuru Marketing apply: Communicate your Value and increase your Visibility. If you simply commit to doing this a little more and a little better than your competition, you'll never worry about attracting new clients.

Marketing Flashes About Marketing in a Down Economy

* When things were busy it was easier to be pickier about the projects that came your way. When things slow down it's time to shift your criteria for selection. Don't act desperate but take the time to follow up seriously on every legitimate lead.

* Up your level of service to your existing clients. Show you care about their business by adding value wherever possible. It's the little things that matter, like email and calls returned right away. Don't give them reason to find another provider because you've dropped the ball.

* Get automated. The more time you're spending on details, the less time you have to market your services. One place to start is with your email. Create a series of email letters that answer virtually every question a prospect might have and save them as "stationery files." When you get an inquiry, you don't have to write a letter from scratch, just fine-tune the one you already have.

* Offer extra value with existing services. For instance, if you do a training program that you charge a fixed price for, add value that doesn't cost you much but adds perception of value such as posting additional information on your web site, including cassette tapes of the main points in the training program and/or offering to come back in a month and do an assessment of training results.

* And in the true spirit of InfoGuru Marketing, when things are slow, don't just call past clients looking for new work, send them something valuable such as a report, survey results or other information, and then follow up to discuss it. You'll get a much better reception than "begging" for work.


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