Fast and slow: The nimble, but patient marketer wins the race

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istock discussing the projectOne challenge in marketing is that it can take time for things to work, and if you rush the process, you will fail because you are unable to build enough trust, respect and depth in your relationships and reputation. (Really, will anyone give a major project/job to someone who spams some emails or responds among a few dozen others)to a public RFP.)

Related to this challenge is the indirect nature of the successful marketing building process. You need to reach the point where potential clients know and like you — and you won’t get very far if the first thing they see is a sales pitch — either through some hard advertising or (more troubling) an initial personal contact. So you need to experience¬†more delays, for example, by joining relevant associations, integrating yourself into their activities, and then, maybe, discovering the relationships that lead to profitable business.

If this seems like a long-range and very uncertain way to achieve marketing and business development success, you are right, it is.

Can you speed up the process?

The answer is, maybe, but at some risk.

First, if you are daring and willing to accept rejection you attempt intrusive marketing methods, including canvassing, telemarketing and (be very careful about this) broadcast emails. They don’t generally work very well, but are quite direct. The challenge is that the rejection volume will be so high that you will quickly be demoralized, and the “bites” you get won’t necessarily be your ideal clients.

The second approach, less risky, but one you need to think through, is to prime the pump of your existing/previous clients. Here, you communicate with them, perhaps to keep in touch but mainly to find if they either have some work that needs to be done, or know someone they believe could use your services. In an emergency, when you need to find a way to fill your order book quickly, this is the most effective approach.

The third fast-track opportunity occurs when you seize the moment. Every situation is different. I remember one association event (Construction Specifications Canada) when the program had been set up to feature a general contractor’s live work on a major museum. After the tour, I approached the contractor’s project manager and proposed a revenue-generating feature in our local publication, subject to the owner’s permission. He said “yes”. ¬†I quickly contacted the relevant government department, received consent, and we generated the feature.

Here, the relationships with the association may have taken years to build, but the actual opportunity appeared in seconds.

Generally, you need to be patient for your strategies to work. Build the relationships first. However, when the opportunities arise, they often will emerge rapidly.

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