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Some Lessons Learned Traveling

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

You'd think while on vacation I wouldn't think about marketing but of course I did. What struck me was that the same things I learned as a traveler in Italy (my first long overseas vacation) were just as applicable to marketing a service business. Here's my "Top 9 Traveling Tips" and how you can apply them to marketing.

1. Make a Plan.

If you don't know where you're going, anyplace will do. Where do you want to go with your marketing? What are your goals for income, for new clients, for the kinds of projects you want? Very few set specific marketing goals but this is about as smart as landing in Europe and asking, "what do I do now?" A clear plan will make your marketing journey much easier and much more productive.

2. Pack Lightly - no kidding

In marketing this refers to your marketing budget. You don't have to spend a fortune to get good marketing results, in fact, many service businesses who market successfully spend very little on marketing. Big ads, direct mail, expensive brochures and other cash-intensive marketing are often less effective than networking, a good web site and writing for publication. When you "pack light" you don't have to lug around a huge monthly marketing expense.

3. Be Flexible - things change.

Once you have a plan you need to be able to change your direction or your strategy if what you're doing isn't working. Perhaps you've settled on a few marketing activities but they're talking too much time, money and effort and not producing the results you want. Sit down and reevaluate your strategy. Don't get stuck in a plan that isn't working for you. (But don't give up your plan entirely without replacing it with another.)

4. Get on the Road Early

One of the best ways to fit marketing into your busy schedule is to do marketing activities the first thing in the day. Make calls to past clients, write that newsletter article and make contact with organizations where you'd like to speak. Just a few minutes a day will give you momentum and with these activities out of the way you'll be energized, not drained thinking about all those marketing things you know you should do but never get around to.

5. Use a Guide and a Map

You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Other people have been where you want to go. Books, tapes, workshops and coaching can save you huge amounts of time and money with ineffective marketing activities. I've observed that most people don't have much enthusiasm about marketing because they simply don't know what to do and where to start. This shouldn't be an excuse.

6. Use the Most Appropriate Transportation

We learned that sometimes a train and sometimes a car were the best transportation. What vehicles are you using to get to your marketing destinations? Different things work for different businesses and different people. Cold calling is not my favorite vehicle but I've seen it work very well for many clients. You'll only learn your best vehicles by trying many and seeing what works for you.

7. Learn the Language

For many, marketing gets lumped into one big undifferentiated mishmash. It all sounds the same and none of it makes much sense. That's what Italian sounded like to me and it often made my trip frustrating. By learning the basic vocabulary of marketing (The 5 Ps) and understanding the fundamental terms and practices of marketing you'll be far ahead of the average service business.

8. Learn the Local Customs

What are your competition or your professional associates doing to market their businesses? What can you learn from them? Success stories abound but few dig deep enough to learn anything really useful. Where do they publish? How did they get published? Where do they speak? How do they maintain their mailing lists? Borrow the best ideas for your marketing plan.

9. Have Fun!

Marketing is fun if you follow these basic guidelines and are committed to making marketing work for you. The key is gaining basic marketing knowledge, making a plan and implementing one idea at a time until you get results.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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