Michael Nelson
December 14, 2013

Here’s How to Build a Marketing System that Produces Results

When I refer to “Second Career Entrepreneurs” I’m specifically addressing the group of people who have spent time walking the corporate corridors and have since found themselves running their own businesses.  They have experience, networks, an idea of how business works and are now master of their own domain.  This combination can result in great small businesses, but it can also lead to some hideous train wrecks!

Walk the Plank - Failed Small Business Marketing

However you found yourself in this position, planned or unplanned, you have your dreams and you want to be in control.  You’ve also probably found out by now that running a business is quite a bit different than working for a business.  If you’re not careful, your business will end up running you and you’ll lose control.


The Challenge of Marketing and Sales


Marketing and sales are the biggest challenge to maintaining control and working on your dreams.  If you can’t attract clients, you’re in trouble!  To avoid feeling like you’re being taken on a ride and that you’ve traded a boss for a small business that controls you, its critical to know that your revenue stream is secure.


I’ve found a typical marketing pattern that second career entrepreneurs go through.  A bit of planning and foresight can eliminate this challenge and make life as a business owner rewarding and fun.


Three Phases of Failing Marketing


The three phases of this pattern are networked marketing, mad scramble marketing, and do anything for a buck marketing.


Networked marketing involves using your network to find business.  Friends introduce you to their companies, people you’ve worked with refer you to others, and your network is your primary marketing tool.  It works for a while, usually around a year or so.  Then, the jobs that your network knows about are done, work doesn’t flow from it anymore or if it does it isn’t enough to sustain you.


The mad scramble follows and is just like it sounds.  You scramble to reach out to your network again, meet new people, go to networking events, etc.  This typically starts when your networking isn’t providing enough work to help your business stay alive.  You may be cutting back on your budget and start to get a bit concerned about running a business.  What seemed easy at the beginning is beginning to seem a bit more challenging.


The last phase is the “do-anything-for-a-buck” phase and is when you’re desperate and will take any and all work to keep the business going.  In this phase, you start to question your ability to run a business, whether your offerings are actually needed, or believe that although you have great offerings, that you can’t connect with the right people who need what you have to offer.


When a Second Career Entrepreneur follows this pattern, the end result is usually reentry into the corporate world and a loss of confidence.


Many of the free consulting sessions I have are with people in the midst of the third phase and they are reaching in any and every direction for help.  Unfortunately, at this point it’s a bit of a challenge to help them and frequently they’ve exhausted their budget.


What is the Solution?


Take the time up front, or as soon as possible, to create a system that helps you market your business continuously.  It’s like being a farmer, if you want food year round, you have to be doing actions on a schedule to ensure that you’re growing, harvesting, maintaining your tools, buying seed, rotating crops, etc.  Marketing must be done year round as well.


Build a Marketing System That Works For YouSmall Business Marketing With Confidence


Initially, it may take you two or more hours a day to market.  That may seem like a lot if you’re already working full time, but as you get more efficient and grow your audience, you will likely work your way down to an hour a day to produce the results you need.  Much of that work can be out-sourced as your revenue permits too.


Creating a marketing system that produces business requires some ground work.  You have to understand your messaging.  What are you telling people about your business and how are you presenting it?  Why are you different?  What problems do you solve?  Who do you solve those problems for and where can you find them?  How are you going to turn your solution into revenue?


Next you need a business model.  A business model is a way of describing how you deliver value and capture value in return.  It starts to focus on the “how” to act upon your “what and why”.  Your business model will help you organize and select your actions so that you are always focused on steps that will deliver value and move your business towards achieving your goals.


Get Your Message Right and Use Automation for Marketing Success


Lastly, you can begin to build your marketing system.  I recommend heavy usage of social media marketing and digital marketing, in part because it’s effective and in part because you can make use of it inexpensively.  Your marketing must be focused on providing value, attracting people to you, and making it easy for them to understand the value in doing business with you.  This can be automated to a great degree, at least in distribution.


When you put these elements in place to create a marketing system, you’re business can skip the painful and worrisome steps that come after you’ve exhausted your network’s ability to help you find work.  You stay in control, you continue to pursue your dreams and you don’t invite stress into your life!

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Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson is a small business coach and circumstance marketing innovator who lives in DC with his lovely wife and three insane boys. Michael Nelson ”The Cogent Coach” Follow me on:  Twitter / Facebook /  LinkedIn / Google+
Filed Under: Tagged With: Business and Change