Beating The Feast Or Famine Cycle: Safety In Numbers
It is gratifying to receive positive feedback for one of my posts, especially if it is a personal request for a discussion. Actually, I received inquiries from two freelancers who had read last week’s post regarding my recruiting efforts for In The Black Partners. They wanted to know if our program would fit their needs. I was pleased to learn that I had made an impression on these folks and we scheduled a time to talk.
I was interested in learning how they promoted their business. What were they doing to overcome the “feast or famine cycle?” Were they making a seamless transition from one project to the next? This question is important to me as our value proposition addresses this issue. I learned that they need help promoting their businesses. They are mostly focused on word-of-mouth marketing and networking. None of them talked about any digital marketing efforts.
Many freelancers rely on word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. I am a firm believer in WOM as it is a powerful way to build a business. I endorse it completely. However, word-of-mouth marketing is too passive to be an exclusive promotional strategy. It is based on the hope that clients will say good things about you. As the saying goes, “hope is not a strategy.” Even WOM promotion must be managed proactively.
If you have made it to the point where you are ready to become a freelancer you probably have a well-established network. This is your principle asset. The goal is to turn those relationships into recurring revenue. The challenge is maintaining top-of-mind awareness for your brand. By managing your network you can create a Business Development machine. However important, this can be a time-consuming endeavor for free agents.
Time is the freelancer’s nemesis. If they focus 100% on their current projects there is no time left to prospect for new business. When you're not selling you aren't generating revenue. The first step in breaking the cycle is to schedule time to pitch your business. Making a commitment to spend one day a week promoting one’s business is an admirable goal. But, it is a goal that is very difficult to achieve. Most freelancers will agree.
Developing the skills to develop and execute a digital marketing strategy is also time-consuming. In fact, one could easily question the rationale for developing these skills unless one’s practice is related to marketing and public relations. It is generally better to focus your efforts on your strengths and employ outsourced solutions to compensate for your weaker areas. This is a sensible decision if funds are available.
Executive search is as close to pure marketing as I have seen. There may be better examples, like direct mail marketing or network marketing but few other businesses seem to come close. Whomever I talk with is a prospective client, a prospective candidate, a referral source, or all of the above. Everyone! My work is all about talking to people, so every point of contact is brand building and selling in one form or another. Even so, in addition to networking, I employ a fairly comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
As mentioned in my last post, helping freelancers break the feast or famine cycle is part of our mission. Now, more than any other time in history, we have powerful tools to promote your business. Email marketing, social media marketing; blogging; and webinars, for example, have been game changers. However, it is still difficult for a single freelancer to find the time and resources to network, and to execute a digital marketing strategy.
Let’s face it, selling isn’t easy. For many freelancers, it’s dreaded; especially dealing with rejection, a normal part of the process. Rejection can be painful, and we humans tend to avoid pain. So, we devote less time to selling. Cold calling is the worst. Forget about it! But, we must sell or face the famine! To become a successful freelancer you must leverage your time and financial resources. The best way to accomplish this is to become affiliated with a larger group of free agents. We recommend an association with an organized group of freelancers working together as a brand.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search
Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company – New
2. Director of Business Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company: Complete
3. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company: Complete
4. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. Complete
5. Controller – Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New
6. Outplacement Assignment – Atlanta-based Manufacturer: New