We’ve made it through a very competitive presidential election and we witnessed quite a battle. The President remains in office because he was the more strategic. He ran the better campaign, he had the better ground game, his get out the vote initiative was superb. In sum, President Obama had the better marketing plan.
He didn’t execute as ruthlessly as political strategist Dorie Clark recommends (see the October 30 post), but he took full advantage of a few key situations, most notably the well-timed (for him, anyway) Hurricane Sandy. He hopped onto Air Force One, landed in hard-hit New Jersey (what an entrance!), reassured numerous devastated and frightened residents and in the process, managed to have sworn nemesis Governor Chris Christie eating out of his hand, all with the TV cameras rolling. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, officially an Independent but really a Republican, went so far as to endorse the President for re-election. Talk about fortune smiling.
So the 2012 presidential campaign provides a blueprint for Freelance consultants who are trying to survive and thrive as the economic assault on the middle and working classes continues. The only possible way to keep your business alive is to survey your unique set of circumstances and leverage all resources to strengthen your position.
One major factor in competing strong in a weak economy is remaining visible. Longer lapses between assignments, especially when combined with the insult of smaller projects and fewer billable hours, are a dynamic that slashes your available money. Yet one must do all that is possible to preserve the marketing budget, for that is when we need it more than ever.
When marketing on a limited budget, be very objective. Review your marketing strategy and make sure that activities align with current conditions in your business environment. Contact media outlets that have been just beyond your reach and inquire as to what your budget will support now. I’m willing to bet that there are deals to be had. Also, advertisers can expect to receive some editorial space, so when you purchase an ad, expect at some point to be asked to give quotes or even write an article that will showcase your expertise.
Evaluate your core message and verify that it addresses what clients are most interested in when they consider hiring for your service category. Be aware that client budgets and priorities may have shifted along with the economy. Examine your website and print collaterals. Sometimes a client will check you out before calling, so make sure to communicate a message that will optimize every potential opportunity.
To both improve your reach and save on your marketing budget, review your social media strategy. Perhaps this is the time to explore Google + and figure out how it can help you engage clients and prospects, or at least keep you visible in the best ways. Google + invites client interaction, making your marketing a two-way conversation that can enhance your brand by showcasing you as a trusted adviser and authority.
On the traditional media front, write and distribute press releases to announce your participation in any business-related public event. Oh yes, and do make sure that you schedule yourself to speak at conferences whenever possible and conduct workshops and take on teaching opportunities. Call your local adult learning center, community college and neighborhood business association to figure out how to get on teaching and speaking calendars.
It is also very important to maintain good relations with current, or previous clients. Just last week, as I finished up with a client meeting, one of the principals asked if I’d mind if her daughter called me. The daughter is a dancer with a mid-sized company that needs marketing strategy and PR work. That meeting itself was the result of up-selling services that expanded billable hours with the client.
Superior service and excellent relationships matter more than ever in a highly competitive business environment. Christmas and Chanukkah are coming. Plan to send holiday cards to all clients you’ve worked with in the past five years.
Devise marketing moves to position your consultancy to win as much available business as possible. Be a fierce competitor not by spending more, but by being shrewd and recognizing opportunities. Make every marketing move strategic and create good luck. Only the strong and the lucky will survive and thrive.