“I’m not a salesperson.”

“I can do a great job once I get the project, but I just can’t seem to get in the door.”

“I set up my own business so I could do the work I love, not so I could spend all my time marketing.”

If you’re an independent consultant or any kind of freelancer, these sentiments probably sound familiar. Consultants typically walk away from corporate jobs because they want to spend their time doing the technical work they love, for which they have aptitude and training, and not doing the politicking and internal selling that’s required in most large companies. When they get out in the competitive freelance world, however, they then find that they must spend a large proportion of their time marketing and selling their services. Most consultants consider the marketing and selling aspect of the work a distracting necessity. Many shy away from it in the belief that they have no talent for it. Others believe that they could be good self-marketers if they only knew where to start.
Get Clients Now: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals and ConsultantsBy C.J. Hayden, Amacom Books, 1998

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The ”Get Clients Now” process
C.J. Hayden, an entrepreneur with her own services business, Wings Business Coaching, has delivered a book that would-be consultants with such fears will appreciate. She presents the two most important elements for a successful marketing program for consultants: an easy, yet structured process to follow, and the motivation to get started and keep at it. Get Clients Now: A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals and Consultants is a marketing primer, a goal-setting exercise, and a project plan that consultants can easily follow to generate billable activity. The “Get Clients Now” program has been so successful that, much like Steven Covey’s well-known book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it has spawned a small industry of trainers and consultants who travel around the country giving seminars and training sessions in the system.

The book begins by categorizing the types of marketing activity that freelancers need to perform, ranging from “Outreach” activities such as personal contact with prospects or networking with peers that could refer you to clients, to “Credibility” exercises like writing articles or speaking as an expert at trade shows and conferences, to “Visibility” activities such as advertising and promotion. The author then further divides these categories into detailed descriptions of the types of marketing actions that fit into each, such as cold calling, personal letters, newsletters, meetings and seminars, or direct mail.

Rather than simply listing these activities, however, Hayden encourages readers to think strategically about their own marketing needs, and to combine these elements into a personal strategy that addresses those needs. She presents an overview of a typical marketing strategy, which includes four main stages:

  • Filling the pipeline
  • Following up
  • Getting presentations
  • Closing sales

Creating a daily action plan
Get Clients Now then offers a goal-setting exercise that allows consultants to review their own marketing requirements and to develop a set of personal objectives. The successful use of this system requires that you honestly and ruthlessly assess your achievements and failings in the marketing arena, and then target those stages of the marketing plan that will have the greatest payoff for you and your practice.

Once you’ve honestly appraised your own strengths and weaknesses in self-marketing, the program leads you through a daily action plan. Through the use of your personal strategy and a tracking worksheet that leads you through the marketing activities required, you motivate yourself to perform some marketing actions each day. Hayden presents valuable guidance on the most appropriate use of each strategy and action, and the book is peppered with useful quotes and motivational success stories from both “Get Clients Now” program trainers and participants. The book ends up with a troubleshooting guide that helps consultants measure their success with the system and to diagnose and repair problems with their personal marketing strategies.

The “Get Clients Now” program has succeeded in mentoring freelancers across the U.S. in basic marketing concepts, and the book offers that system to any professional who recognizes the need to develop their skills in marketing their services. Rather than simply skimming the book, I rigorously went through the program myself, and I’ve developed a significant number of new leads, an opportunity to present a training program, and a chance to write a series of articles for a local computer newspaper, all through actions I’ve taken as a result of the “Get Clients Now” system. Consultants with the honesty to assess their own marketing skills, the discipline to develop a personal strategy, and the persistence to carry it out will benefit greatly from Hayden’s book.

Rick Freedman is the author of The IT Consultant: A Commonsense Framework for Managing the Client Relationship and the upcoming The Internet Consultant, both by Jossey Bass. He is the founder of Consulting Strategies, Inc., a training firm that advises and mentors IT professional services firms in fundamental IT project management and consulting skills.

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