For all too many firms and individual professionals, most any kind of marketing/selling or job-seeking strategy works pretty well, especially in good times. But when boom times disappear, so do more automatic forms of business development. Explained research specialist Michael Norris, President, Norris Research, during a recent recession, ?The general stumbling of many ?high fliers? has been due to marketing, or lack thereof. Until recently, it seemed as if answering the phone was their entire marketing strategy.?
When the going gets rough, however, what's a company or job seeker to do? One little-used technique for separating oneself from the competition is to write and publish articles and/or books.
Why adopt this approach? For one thing, it's far less expensive than even a modest snail-mail or advertising strategy, and second, writing/publishing earns one double benefits. At once you are promoting your skills and services while educating target markets about what you know, all in one fell swoop. Thus publishing transforms companies and individuals into ?thought leaders,? that is to say, better-known experts in their particular field. This allows core values and unique selling points to be articulated clearly, confidently and persuasively.
How to get started? First, you need a ?go-ahead? from an editor, generally a far more effective step then starting off writing a full-blown article or book, then shot-gunning it off to a publication or publisher and hoping it fits. By locating an editor who would be sincerely interested in your work before actually writing it, you stand to gain feedback around angle, length, and deadline which will help you craft the article just the way your new editor would like to see it. Obviously chances of acceptance spike up significantly when criteria for success can be specified and followed beforehand.
To insure that your article will promote you in the way you want, you'll also want to decide beforehand (a) specific business objectives you wish to advance, and (b) publications read by your target customers (for articles) and target reader audience (for books). A client of mine, a manufacturer of data storage systems, for example, wanted its insurance firm prospects to understand how much more productive its recently-developed data mining system could make them. So its VP Sales wrote an article called ?Storage Must be Flexible,? AFTER securing interest from the editor of a major insurance journal.
How does one go about obtaining such interest? The answer is all too business-familiar: cold-call or email an editor or publisher just as you would a prospective customer, pitch your idea briefly, then await the response. You'll probably end up chatting with the editor about your proposal and hearing her ask, ?So when could you get it to me?? If pitching by email, send a nudge reminder a week or so later if you haven't yet heard, or make a follow-up call.
The truth is that securing a go-ahead from an editor is a pretty straightforward proposition. Most editors are sitting around their desks waiting to hear from you, since they don't generally know where their next idea meals are coming from. Since they are constantly in need of great new ideas, they welcome calls or emails from strangers who can propose them.
As you get in the game, you will steadily become proficient at this remarkable (and remarkably little-used!) marketing channel. In fact, expect some prospective clients or employers to actually begin recognizing YOUR name when you meet them. They will light up when they realize they have read an article or book authored by you. ?I learned a lot from reading your ideas,? they will say, adding (pre-sold to you), ?Please tell me what I can do for you. I'm all ears.?
Ken Lizotte CMC is Chief Imaginative Officer (CIO) of emerson consulting group inc. (Concord, MA), which transforms consultants, law firms, executives and companies into ?thoughtleaders.? This article is an excerpt from his newest book "Beyond Reason: Questioning Assumptions of Everyday Life".
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