Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Minimalist Marketer

British marketing consultant Sonja Jefferson somehow concluded that I was an effective marketer. She and her colleagues last year named me the inaugural recipient of the Valuable Content Award, based on the client-oriented content presented on my website and in this blog. Now she wants to interview me for an upcoming book on content marketing.

I'm honored, and a bit perplexed, by the attention. You see, I don't think I've been doing that great a job marketing my consulting practice. For example, check out Sonja's Twitter profile. She has over 2,200 followers while I have a measly 142. Only 21 people have "liked" my Facebook page. I've been sporadic lately in getting speaking engagements and articles published (the usual excuse--too busy).

Yet despite my shortcomings, I still have more of a web presence, publish more articles, and speak at more conferences than 90% of my clients. And most of them have dedicated marketing staff. More importantly, I attract more prospective clients through my marketing efforts than most of the engineering, architectural, and environmental firms I work for.

How can that be? I may be a minimalist marketer, but I focus my efforts on those activities that have have been shown to be the most effective. Last November, I posted in this space a summary of several studies that identified the best marketing tactics for professional service firms and other B2B enterprises. I identified eight marketing practices that stood out:
  • Seminars and other in-person events
  • Conference presentations
  • Webinars
  • Articles in third-party publications
  • Search engine optimization
  • Articles posted on your website
  • PR pitches to journalists
  • Email newsletter
Nearly all of my marketing efforts involve doing those things. Most A/E firms, by contrast, expend the bulk of their time and money on marketing tactics that haven't proven as effective--trade show exhibiting, direct mail, advertising, design competitions, self-promotional websites, and, of course, the usual collection of marketing collateral. That's not to say that these activities don't have value, but too many firms are shortchanging the more productive tactics.

If my supposed marketing prowess deserves anyone's attention, perhaps it is in this: If I can do it, certainly your firm can too! I'm a one-man consulting practice responsible for every aspect of running my business. Yet I still make time to post to my blog (most) every week, publish a monthly email newsletter, write several articles a year, speak at various conferences, conduct webinars, maintain a content-rich website, and dabble with social media. The result: 70% of my new clients come as a result of my marketing activities.

So if your firm is spending most of its marketing investment on activities that are not among those producing the best results, let me urge you to take the "minimalist marketing challenge." Commit to at least use the top tactics as much as I do. If I can do it, your firm certainly can. It might even get you noticed across the pond.

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