Tried These “Under-the-Radar” Marketing Tactics for Your Writing Business? (Guest Post)

Got this great guest post from busy and talented commercial writer, Lori Widmer. As important as marketing is, it’s also something that so often gets turned into this big, gnarly, scary exercise that ends up reliably but unnecessarily freaking out commercial freelancers. NOT that it’s some piece ‘o cake, but, as Lori points out, it makes sense to examine – and adjust, if necessary – some of your common perceptions about marketing. Enjoy!

Marketing is not brain surgery.

There. I said it. Too many times we hear the word “marketing” and think of complicated, time-consuming plans that have to be worked to death in order to be effective. If that’s how you’re marketing, you’re probably doing it wrong.

That’s because I spend just a few hours a week marketing and I’m usually quite busy. My plan is jotted down, not charted out like an expedition map. The simpler the better, in my view. I market every day, busy or not. If you’re looking to simplify and get more impact from less work, try mixing a few of these ideas into your current strategy:

Use invoices as sales tools. Why just send an invoice when you can send an invoice that also announces sales, recent business successes, or newsletter sign-up information? These are clients who have already bought from you. Remind them why with short pieces (under 100 words) announcing your new product, your new sale, or your latest sales success.

Engage in stealth marketing. Some of my best marketing success has come from not marketing at all. It’s what I call stealth marketing, and it’s little more than showing up, befriending, helping, and maintaining the connection. In one case, a client told me I wasn’t very good at marketing. This was as she was revamping her business in order to fit my proposal into her current business model. She never realized it, but I had marketed to her without doing more than showing up, befriending, helping, and maintaining the relationship.

Close the circle. The sale isn’t over when the client buys. It’s over when you have a satisfied client. Go back to those clients who bought from you recently. Follow up on that sale by first asking if they’re satisfied. Then send the invoice. At invoice time, ask for feedback – how can you be of further assistance? Was the product to their satisfaction? Were they happy with the overall experience?

Get caught promoting clients. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are great places to promote clients when they’re not looking. Send out that press release link, give them a congratulatory shout-out, or Retweet their message with your own praise attached.

Promote a non-client. When was the last time you helped someone you knew would never be a client? It’s something so easy to do, and yet so few of us think it’s useful or even necessary. Refer someone to a non-client or former client when possible. I surprised a client I’d fired by sending customers his way. Why? Because I believed his business was a good fit for those customers. It didn’t matter that he and I couldn’t come to terms. What mattered was that I kept it business only – nothing personal.

Ask for the referral. You’ve just finished a great project with your client. You’ve done follow up to ensure satisfaction. Now is the time to ask. “Do you know of anyone else who might need my services?” Tap into your client’s network to expand your own. By asking for a referral, you’re able to spread the word about your business by asking for an introduction from an already satisfied client. It’s word-of-mouth marketing kicked up a notch.

Rethink your view of marketing. Use marketing to meet people, not sell to people. If you must, view it as networking, but remember the result isn’t about selling. It’s about meeting and connecting. Don’t go into every conversation thinking you have to sell. You don’t. You should be building the relationship. Sales come later.

How often do you market?

Have you used any of the above, and if so, can you share a story?

What are some of your most effective marketing methods?

Which of your marketing approaches do clients respond to most?

What is the toughest part of marketing for you?

Lori Widmer veteran freelance writer and editor who specializes in business writing and marketing strategies for writers. She is co-founder and co-moderator of the About Writing Squared Five Buck Forum for writers, and author of the upcoming book, Marketing 365: Daily Strategies for Small Businesses. She blogs for writers every day at Words on the Page

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