We are inundated with offers to improve our search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, social media strategies for nurturing new leads and resuscitating dormant ones, and ways to become a "trusted source" to clients. (This last moniker is taking some getting used to—I had finally almost gotten comfortable with "vendor.")
As book producers, we get a substantial response to our marketing efforts from businesses who want to sell their services to us, at times making it unclear just who is selling what to whom. It takes time to distinguish between the sales material sent by services offering to help us sell our own services and that sent by companies simply trying to sell us their own services and products.
This confusion underscores the desperation that underlies a fiercely competitive marketplace in a sour economy. Worse, it suggests that while we're all trying to sell to each other, the real clients are working with those who have found other—effective—approaches.
We work with an inbound marketing consultant who also hosts our website, blog, and landing pages. Inbound marketing helps us create and disseminate content in ways that help potential clients find our website and get in touch to ask for help.
We blog on a regular basis, send emails to targeted lists, and have started working on a monthly newsletter. We receive lots of assistance from our marketing consultant; some valuable, some less so. It takes time to figure out what works for us. Once we sort out that material, we need to adapt its implementation to the time constraints of a very small business. Even the most modest campaigns would fill the schedule of a part-time marketing manager, but Brian and I are responsible for all aspects of our business—creative, managerial, marketing, administrative (not necessarily in that order).
To date, the only marketing strategy that has been predictably successful is issuing "content" that will make our clients' jobs easier. Unquestionably, Item #1 on their list of requirements is a way to save them money, and our best solutions arise from showing how to avoid unanticipated and unnecesary expense. So our biggest marketing challenge is devising new, persuasive methods to get that message across in every marketing piece we deliver.