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ARE YOU MARKETING BACKWARDS By Charlie Cook Marketing is like rowing a boat. When you know how the pointed bow moves smoothly forward through the water encountering the least amount of resistance. Rowing backwards, the square stern of the boat pushes against the water, requiring more effort and increases the risk of having a wave come over the transom (back) and swamping it. Yet most people market backwards, trying to grow their business while pushing against the greatest level of resistance. WouldnÕt you like to market your business so that it moved easily forward? WhatÕs the first thing most people do to increase sal‘s of their products, services? They put together a description of their credentials. Then they pick up the ph0ne, run an ad campaign, send out a brochure and or build a web site and ask people to buy. Do you know anyone who has used this approach? Have you tried it yourself? Were you happy with the number of new clients and customers you attracted? ItÕs a common misperception that the fastest way to attract more clients and customers is to focus on asking people to buy. It looks like the obvious route, but in most cases it generates only a trickle of new clients for small business owners. It can work if youÕre a large company with millions of dollars to spend building your brand. Why doesnÕt this selling approach work for service professionals and small business owners? A sale is the end point or one of the waypoints in your relationship with a client. Before they are ready to give you their m0ney prospects need to be confident that you have what they want, and they trust your product or service will deliver on your promises. When you lead with a focus on selling and your credentials you run into high levels of resistance. It is like trying to row a boat backwards. Marketing is about building relationships, one by one. Start by focusing on what your prospect wants, not on yourself. Think about it. When you pick up the ph0ne or encounter a friend, whatÕs one of the first things you say? Do you launch into a monologue about yourself? Most people usually start the conversation with a friendly questions or two and then find a topic of mutual interest. If you have information your friend is interested in, you share it. I frequently get calls from people who say they hate marketing. Why? Trying to convince people to buy feels pushy. An alternative that is more effective - and more fun - is to focus instead on giving people what they want. Get your prospectÕs attention by leading with a question or statement that succinctly gets them thinking about how you can solve a problem they have. This is your marketing message or elevator speech, not your sal‘s pitch. Once you have their interest, give them something they want in order to prompt them to contact you. This could be a short report or article. Does your marketing approach give people what they want? Does it help start a conversation and a relationship? Once a prospect gives you their contact information, go to work and make good on their trust by showing an interest in their needs and giving them a steady stream of useful tips. The more you give your prospects, the stronger your relationship will be. Rowing a boat backwards is hard work and wonÕt get you very far. There is just too much resistance. To attract more clients and grow your business stop marketing backwards and pushing against high levels of resistance. Give your prospects what they want, build relationships and youÕll find more prospects buying the solutions you provide. 2004 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. - The author, Charlie Cook, helps service professionals and small business owners attract more clients and be more successful. Sign up for the Fr‘e Marketing Plan eBook, '7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business' at

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