The Starting Point Of Your Marketing Strategy

Look inside before looking out.

Several consultants shared how the distinction between attention and interest was helpful to clarify what's wrong with their marketing strategy. "Never thought about it this way... can you share the basic framework you use with consultants to systematically create interest?" So that's the goal of this post.

While I'm slowly documenting how we do marketing strategy, it helps to start from the very basics. And that means understanding how people think and behave.

We can look at demand generation from two different perspectives: your prospects' perspective (what's the journey they need to go through) or your own perspective (how you design that journey). They consist of the same elements but in a different configuration.

From the perspective of a potential consulting client, this path can be described as:

  1. They pay attention to you and your services. (Awareness)
  2. They judge you are someone worthy of their interest. (Relevancy)
  3. They establish some kind of connection with you. (Relationship)
  4. They come to believe you could improve or transform their business. (Trust)

Each of these activities has a different time duration:

  • People will judge if you are worthy of their interest immediately. If you're not, your message will be ignored or quickly forgotten.
  • Next, they will connect with you relatively fast. They may follow you on social media, subscribe to your email list, or agree to have an intro chat. Depending on the connection, this typically happens in the following hours or days.
  • Finally, earning their trust usually takes a longer time. The bigger the commitment, the higher the level of trust must be. Someone might decide to buy your book after very few interactions, but being seen as an expert that can be trusted with high-ticket projects might take months or even years.

What does this mean for you, the consultant? This is how your prospects will behave, so your plan of action must align with their journey. We can safely say that there are at least three big conclusions we can take from it.

First, when you invest in getting the attention of people (raising awareness) but are not judged as someone worthy of their interest (relevant), you are effectively wasting time and money. This means that to plan successful marketing initiatives your positioning should come before anything else.

Second, you can only earn trust from people once you have established some kind of relationship with them. It's up to them to decide how they want to connect, so you will need to find out where they spend their time and ensure you have a strong presence there. This is where channels and specific tactics come in.

Finally, it takes time and a strong plan of action to earn trust. You will need to show you are competent (by sharing your body of work), reliable (with social proof, frequent communication, standardized brand identity), and honest and likable (through private conversations or video interactions to build rapport).

This all means that the order in which you need to design your prospects' journey is different from the one they go through:

  1. You define who are the people you want to work with, and how you will come across as relevant to them. (Positioning)
  2. You make it fast and easy for them to connect with you. (Connection)
  3. You decide how you will engage with them and nurture the relationship over time. (Trust)
  4. You invest your time and money to get in front of them. (Attention)

Marketing is essentially a battle for people's attention. But putting it at the front and center of your marketing plan is a common and costly mistake for independent consulting firms. Making people notice you is only part of the job.

Most lead generation problems are positioning problems. Impressions and web traffic are meaningless if they don't convert into new relationships. Everyone complains of visibility, but don't invest time to improve their relevancy.

If you want to create an effective marketing strategy, you will need to examine your specialization, business model, and capabilities. Just like with most of our personal challenges, the best way to make progress is deciding who we want to be and doing the inner work to become it. Look inside before looking out.

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