Effective Marketing Strategies for Designers in a Weak Economy

Building relationships is the key that will throw open the doors to marketing success as quickly and as widely as possible in a tough economy. When marketing is a challenge it’s tempting to throw money at the problem (if you have the money to spend). I mean, haven’t we all heard that the last thing to cut back on is marketing when times get tough? But persistent, persuasive, and/or assertive marketing just won’t prompt enough people into action during times of financial uncertainty. Spending lots of money isn’t the key to marketing success.

It might even be tempting to "ride it out" – to do nothing until things turn around. This passive approach yields passive results. Nothing will happen while you’re waiting and when things do turn around, the business will go to the people who’ve been doing something all along. The people who will get the lion’s share of the business – both now and in the future – are the ones who work to build relationship.

So exactly how does someone "build relationships"? Building relationships does not mean becoming "best friends" with everyone. It doesn’t require taking people out to lunch or coffee. It isn’t about sending gifts to people. For the most part, building relationship is about being attractive and adding value. By "being attractive", I mean being likeable, having integrity, being a good communicator, and being passionate. (These are all important topics, but we’ll cover them in another article.) Let’s instead, spend some time talking about "adding value".

Specifically, let’s discuss how to add value to and create connection with prospective and existing clients. A real key to accomplishing this is to give without expecting something in return. The act of helping or giving without getting creates a very powerful dynamic. It establishes you as someone who cares about others. It shows you’re not just focused on yourself. It demonstrates an abundance mentality. It makes you even more likeable and respected. And last, but not least, it creates a feeling of obligation on the part of your prospects and existing clients.

Here’s a starter list of things you can do to add value to and to create connection with prospective and existing clients. Use it as a starting point for your relationship building efforts. Be creative with relationship building approaches which reflect your personality.

• Create and send out a useful, timely report. (make sure it’s not self-serving, though)

• Offer ideas and information that are fun, useful, and/or interesting (most of them will not be related to your business, although some could be)

• Have conversations with prospects and clients to get to know them (people love to be heard)

• Send specific things of interest to specific prospects and clients (it shows you were listening to them and that you care)

• Offer free workshops of interest (but remember, no selling or pitching!)

• Send out personal letters (handwritten is best, but definitely hand signed)

• Personally call to say Hi! or Thank You! (dropping by in person is even better)

Especially when things are tough, it’s more important than ever to build relationships as the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. It will cause people to act sooner and will cause more success to flow to you as things turn around. And besides that, it’s just plain fun.

By Michael Beck
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Michael Beck is "Head Zookeeper" at www.ClientMonkey.com, a website dedicated to getting more clients, making more money, and having more fun!  Mr. Beck's credentials include an MBA from the Wharton School of Business along with degrees in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Michael has held a variety of executive positions including CEO, COO, CFO, EVP, VP of Finance, and VP of Business Development. In addition, he worked several years overseas as a Business Advisor to a member of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. He is a Founding Member of the International Association of Coaches and a Past-President of the Denver Coach Federation. Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/authors/630/michael-beck#ixzz26Czg8ioO


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