If there is one thing I’ve never been comfortable with, it’s promoting myself. Ironic, given my history of screaming at people with a microphone in a metal band all those years (Please, not another “I used to play in a band” story…Not this time).
As I’ve been candid about in my E-Book, I pride myself in providing solutions to difficult problems. One person (or company) can never be an expert in all things. Many tech consulting companies fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people just to get the gig, only to fall well short of delivering the solution. I always advise people to look for demonstrated expertise in a certain area. Often times a consultant or vendor will not even understand the problem well enough to show the potential client an example of work that helps them understand what they know how to do.
The problem for me lies in self-promotion. I’m a small agency. It’s just me and a few really smart (on-shore, local) people I trust. Small by design.
I’m the brand.
I suppose these blog posts are about the closest thing I get to doing digital marketing, save for a few facebook ads that brought minimal success. For the first 8 years of being on my own I didn’t need to do any outreach (or so I thought), because I had WAY more work than I could deliver and I was turning down projects. The funny thing that happens when you don’t target the clients you WANT to work with is that you wind up with the clients you HAVE to work with. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve only had to fire two clients in the history of this company. In hindsight, I could have done a better job at getting my story out in front of the audience I’m interested in while I didn’t have to ask for work.
For reasons I’m not yet comfortable talking about at length, 2018 was a very bad year. The short story is this: My father passed away after a long illness that took up a great deal of my time. He and I were very close, and it required almost daily help on my part for the last 18 months of his life. I was happy to do it. I plan on writing much more about this subject in the future, but I’m not ready yet. Unfortunately, my business has not yet recovered.
I’ve always been comfortable with groups and individuals and seem to be able to gain a potential client’s trust, given the chance. I’ve never been good at fluffy language or tall tales (I know, not all marketing is like that). My work speaks for itself, both successful and not. Referrals have been the life-blood of my success for the last nearly 9 years of being on my own.
It may seem ironic to hear that my business has slowed when the economy is doing well, but that is actually pretty common in consulting. When companies are doing well they hire internal people. When things slow down, they hedge their bets with external vendors. Fair enough.
I’ve had limited success with hiring external marketing consultants / companies that I’ve spoken to in the last 2 years. I’ve just not yet found the folks that cause me to say “You get me. Let’s do this.” I am quite sure they are out there, but I would need an introduction. Please let me know if you have somebody you trust.
After reading this post, it feels much more like a bummer than it really is. I was just ruminating on what my ideal client is, and how that has changed since I first opened the shop. I still love what I do, and the thing that gets me out of bed every day is providing that spark or missing piece that causes my clients to be successful with what they have trusted me to provide. I guess it’s time to get out there and start beating some bushes!