Today's Challenge: Query and follow-up
I loved Robert Middleton's most recent post on marketing. He reminds us that we all want to shut down during an economic crisis but gives us some very good reasons to keep marketing, and some less-scary ways to do it:
* Call up someone who's talked to you about contracting your services and check in.
* Network, network, network.
* Offer a "strategy session" to new clients to allow them to get to know the way you work and what you can offer.
* Re-evaluate whether your Web site is as effective as it could be.
* Offer a teleseminar--free for you and them, and increases your visibility.
"When things are contracting, the best strategy is to expand," he says. "If you have an expansion strategy you are seen as more visible, more credible, and more valuable. Expansion doesn't necessarily mean spending a lot more money on marketing. It may mean doing many more low-cost marketing activities."
Amen to that. As you all know, I've been on a self-imposed news blackout for the past week. It was the only way I could function, focus on my 1 percent and continue working. That doesn't mean I haven't seen any news: It's on at the gym, at the bank and I can't help walking past newsstands and looking. It's force of habit.
But I have been working on querying. My goal is three queries a week--it seemed manageable to me. I started thinking when the economy started tanking in earnest the other week that I should up it to four--and maybe I will. But for now I'm sticking with three.
Because I found myself, as Robert said, contracting. I wasn't sending any queries. So getting three out was a victory. This week, since it's a short one for me (I took a long weekend--a self-care move that I will blog about later this week) will pose a challenge in sending three queries. But I have a plan:
* I have a backlog of old queries--some of which are particularly calling to me at the moment.
* I have an invitation from a new-to-me client to send some feature ideas.
* I have other freelancers I can call on to encourage me and keep me on track.
And though these aren't new queries I think they're just as important: I have a list of clients and prospective clients to whom I owe follow-ups. I sent one follow-up today and will call on the second tomorrow. There's a third to follow up on after that.
In some ways, I feel like these are more important. These are the queries I've already spent energy and creativity on, and they are clients and markets on which I've set my sites. They are part of my business plan.
And the more I follow up, the more I show them that I'm serious.
How is this self-care?
It's probably obvious, but I'll spell it out: I'm focusing on what I can control--my marketing. And I'm working on expanding my business. And here's the real piece of self-care underlying that: Every minute I spend querying is a minute I'm not spending fretting, agonizing or hiding under the sheets and waiting for Congress to fix the economy.
I loved Cheryl Miller's most recent self-care advice on this topic: Overwhelmed by the big questions? Ask yourself the small ones.
So instead of asking, How am I going to survive this recession? I'm asking myself, What queries do I need to follow up on?
What small questions can you ask yourself today?