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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Marketing for Independent Service Professionals

I decided recently that it was time for me to take a step back and revisit my initial marketing plan and get my act together in regards to some issues that I didn't really think about when I launched. In other words, the strategic aspect of business - who is my target audience, what is my marketing message, who is my ideal client, what is my unique competitive advantage and so on. I leapt, head first, into packaging and presenting my business - it took off - and has been rather successful - but I always felt like I'd built it on a shifting foundation.

In order to do this step backwards, I decided to purchase the materials I've promoted for years, from Action Plan Marketing. I got a copy of the Info Guru Marketing Manual - a product which teaches independent professionals the 5 P's of marketing: Positioning, Packaging, Persuasion, Promotion, and Performance.

With it, came access to the Info Guru Forum - a Yahoo Groups-based community where there is so much knowledge and advice flying around that it makes my head spin. Worth it's weight in gold! I've got a dual role there - student, and teacher - so certainly, if you want to know where I'm hanging out lately, sharing free advice, that's where I am. I also joined a Action Plan Group which involves a sort of "mastermind" of other people working through the same process. It is a way to "hold your feet to the fire" and be accountable so you actually go through the steps in the manual - as well as an intimate group of comrades to bounce your plan off of.

It's a little odd, going back - and figuring all this out NOW. I felt like I had succeeded with my business but something was always a little off, and missing. I knew I could do MUCH much better. Imagine if you were still not clear on what you were doing in business and you had the chance to do it all RIGHT from the start! I feel like I've got a handle on the packaging and promotion part but think, how successful would I be if I'm not only targeting the right market for me, but also figuring out the persuasion (sales) piece once and for all!

I've been recommending this material to my clients as the absolutely best way to build a marketing foundation as an independent professional. I have watched service professionals grow absolutely stellar businesses with the Action Plan principles and I finally said - hey - I've ALWAYS got more to learn, it's my turn. I shouldn't be surprised if it is turning everything I thought I knew about my own business on my head. I only wish I had made this move MUCH earlier in my business. You owe it to yourself to check out the site - he also has a Web Site Toolkit which I've sent dozens of clients to, that will help you plan exactly what you want from your independent professional web site and do THAT right from the start too. And even cooler - SOHO It Goes! is listed in his resources as a web design firm that can help executive an Action Plan style web site. Hope to see you over there!