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Friday, January 09, 2009

Inspiration, authenticity and marketing

Your inspired marketing answers and ideas may come at unusual times, and may break some conventional rules.

I'm currently reading a not terribly inspired book, Inspired Marketing!: The Astonishing Fun New Way to Create More Profits for Your Business by Following Your Heart, by Joe Vitale and Craig Perrine. Don't buy the book. The writers threw it together for quick sale (and its content is full of self-serving marketing messages, too bluntly self-promotional for my taste.)

However, the concept behind the book is still an eye-opener and may provide helpful clues to you in your marketing strategies. Sometimes, too much effort is spent on forcing things out just the right way, following the formulas and standard approaches, to achieve, well, standard results.

Really good marketing successes, it seems, come much more naturally. In fact, in good times, you don't seem to need to market at all -- you have a backlog of people interested in doing business with you, largely because of your reputation and word-of-mouth.

In the current, more challenging, environment, of course, things are harder and so you may suddenly find you need to 'market' yourself and your business, when these skills are far from your central competency.

And you find your way here (or opening spammy emails from marketing gurus trying to sell some courses, programs, books, or other systems).

In their book Vitale and Perrine advocate sometimes forgetting the standard marketing rules, capturing your inspiration, and going with the flow. If it feels right, if you sense some trepidation and fear, but know in your heart you are making the right decision, then proceed, and forget the rule book, they suggest. Conversely, if you find yourself forcing yourself into a formula, trying too hard, chasing after things you know aren't really worth doing, but you are doing because you 'have' to, then you may be totally on the wrong track.

Fair enough. But how do you convert this inspiration into something practical that you can use to solve your marketing problem, now?

(You really expect me to solve your marketing problems, instantly, in a single blog entry written early on Saturday morning, eh.)
  1. Compile a list of all your clients in the past five years with as as much information as you can determine (name, email address, nature of business, value of job, and whether everything went well (did they pay their bills in a timely manner, did they sue you for non performance?)
  2. Order a pizza, or two, and bring your entire staff together in the room to recall your working experiences and relationships. Include everyone in the office and as many people from the field as you can pull together.
  3. Remove 20 per cent of the names from the list (people who didn't pay or you don't like). "Star" 20 per cent who you really like -- the work proved to be profitable, satisfying, and you really got along with them.
  4. Spend 30 minutes brainstorming spontaneous and non-judgmental ideas on how you can promote your business to the A group; take a break, then spend another 30 minutes on the rest.
  5. Act on your inspiration.
You won't solve all your business problems here, but I sense you will find this is one of the most productive and profitable meetings in your business history.

(Now here is some inspiration for you if you have real courage. Pay for my plane ticket and a per-diem, and invite me to facilitate the meeting. And, if you respond, I've validated that sometimes writing blog entries at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning can, indeed, represent inspired marketing.)

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