What's Your Secret Weapon?
I have secret weapons that I use to market my business. They're so secret, in fact, that sometimes I forget I have them and don’t take full advantage of them.
Is it my superior intellect? No, but thank you.
Perhaps it’s the band of merry elves who live in my attic and attend to my every need? Still a pipedream, I’m afraid.
Maybe your secret weapon is Search Engine optimisation, also known as SEO. This is the art and science of getting your website ranked at the top of Google. Search Engine Optimisation can be a secret weapon that gives you a competitive advantage as most of your competitors are likely either neglecting in it, don’t understand it or are missing opportunities.
SEO is something you really need to spend a lot of time on; before you even build a backlink to your website you need to ensure your website is technically sound. You probably wont even know where to start with this so it's best to consult the expertise of an SEO agency or SEO company in your local area.
Start with a simple Google search. Your nearest city may be Birmingham, for example, so start your search looking for search engine optimisation Birmingham and have meetings with local SEO experts to discuss your needs and make Search engine optimisation your secret weapon.
Checking reviews is crucial when deciding on an agency to work with. You're putting trust into a company and any changes can have a huge effect on the long-term value of your website. Make sure to compare pricing of different companies in order to maximize your budget.
Once you have your team on board, you'll have to figure out how to best optimize your website so your services stand out in your niche. Let's say your company involves an experienced team of immigration lawyers in Netherlands. You'll want to add content to your blog that relates to the Netherlands, and use relevant keywords that people would search, involving travel, moving, culture, the immigration process, etc. Good content is a natural boost for SEO, so make sure it's well-written and researched.
Beyond SEO, on a personal level, a secret weapon I'm referring to my relationships and, in particular, my natural tendency towards staying in touch with people.
I don’t know why I like emailing, talking on the phone, meeting for coffee, sending texts and just interacting in general, but I do. If I could do nothing but that all day and still make a living, I would.
But here’s the secret weapon part: This kind of decidedly non-strategic, random connecting invariably leads to positive outcomes for my business:
Invitations to speak, new newsletter subscribers, word of mouth buzz, requests to reprint things I’ve written, referrals and, without question, the majority of my clients.
All the result of simply keeping in touch for the sake of keeping in touch.
What I’ve noticed, however, is that while most solo professionals are quick to acknowledge the value of networking and staying connected, it’s almost always done from the perspective of, “How can this guy help me?”
For many people, it seems, it’s not really about building relationships, it’s solely about getting clients. One is simply a means to the other.
I don’t approach it that way. Not because I’m so wonderful (although I am good-looking), it’s just that I keep in touch with the people I like keeping in touch with.
The funny thing is though – and this is the part that’s particularly relevant to your own marketing – somehow, by not trying to predict before the fact, “Who’s most valuable to my business?” … I end up with more business:
- One of my current clients is a former client who I happened to have coffee with last summer.
- Another is an old work colleague of a guy who was in one of my classes two years ago whom I’ve kept in touch with.
- A third is my wife’s old boss who’s now working as a solo and whom I’ve gotten together with for lunch and coffee for years.
Interesting, don’t you think? Somehow, by focusing on the relationship aspect of networking – as opposed to just the business goal of “keeping my name in front of people” – I generate more business.
And it’s not just because most of my clients are individuals, rather than companies. I spent my first 10 years as a solo with companies (some of them huge) as clients and all the business came to me the same way: Real relationships with people inside these companies.
Here’s the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with being strategic about who you know and how you spend your time. It’s just that in my experience, it’s really, really hard to tell beforehand which connections will ultimately be most valuable.
So I have this recommendation: Stop chasing clients, start chasing relationships. On another note, every company must have a third secret weapon; make yours your incredible website. 4site-implementation.com can take your website from being very average and transform it into an attractive platform for broadcasting your business, all in the space of a few months.
By pursuing relationships, not only will you have more work, you’ll have a whole lot of new friends too. Focus on client relationships and building a website so you can grow your business.
Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in developing glaringly good content for professional service firms. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here.