Sales and marketing boils down to these four things:
- A product – in this case, your skills
- A brand – what you want people to think of when they think of your product
- Marketing – getting people to think what you want them to think
- Sales – getting them to fork over money for your product
When most people enter the job market, they only have a product – but no brand or marketing. As a result, their sales effort is hard as hell. With every single sales attempt, you have to convince the hiring managers that your product is the best, and simultaneously the most affordable.
Branding and marketing make getting a job way easier.
Branding: What People Think Of Your Product
When I say these names, what 3-4 words come to mind:
- Red Bull
Those companies have worked really hard to build up an image. In some cases, they’re even working hard to overcome a bad image. (Thank goodness you don’t have that problem!)
When someone says your name, what 10-15 words do you want to come to mind? These words can describe what you do, who you do it for, quality, cost, accessibility, availability, your place in the market, where you live, your hobbies, family, pets, you name it.
Marketing: Getting People to Think Those Words
When I say “marketing,” you probably think outbound marketing: designing an ad campaign, and then buying a whole bunch of ad space on TV, billboards, magazines, product placement, etc. It’s very expensive, which means it’s not really a good fit for you and me.
Instead, think inbound marketing: building really good material that people actually want to consume.
Examples include blog posts, white papers, presentations, webcasts, podcasts, and books. Build the material that shows you know what you’re talking about, and include your branding inside that material. For example, with my own work, I try to show that I’m experienced, thought-provoking, and good at relieving specific business pains.
Then, Sales is Easy.
People beat a path to your door. They sign up for your blog updates, attend your webcasts, and they get real value out of their interactions with you. By the time they want to hire someone to solve a specific business pain, it’s not a question of you proving your worth to them – it’s a question of when you’re available.
The concepts are simple.
The execution is what’s difficult.
It takes long, hard work to build up a lot of blog posts, presentations, etc that serve as your inbound marketing material. But if you want to be a independent consultant and have people come to your door looking for help, there’s no easy button: you’ve got to figure it out.