Solutions to the Top 5 Marketing Challenges of Professionals

Last week I outlined the common marketing challenges professionals have been sharing with me.  This week, I’d like to offer some solutions which have been working for me and others in my network.

1)    Time and Money were the top 2 responses

Kim Scott of Schott Cultural Consulting shared with me her findings from a 2009 survey she conducted with small businesses.  She discovered that small businesses with 5-20 employees have a marketing challenge of seeking out and entering markets quickly and effectively. Her solution to that problem was to pull data from Scarborough, Nielsen and global economic research for her clients. This type of research shows a business how they can quickly monetize a product or service into a net profit. 

On the other hand, sole-practitioners that only have 1 fulltime employee responded by saying their biggest challenge was time and money. She was able to resolve this challenge for her clients, by coaching them how to outsource and delegate so that they’re not doing it all.  Once the workload was properly balanced, then she corrected their target market and marketing plan using research.

Kim often tells sole-practitioners: “if you don’t know the profitability of your ideal client based on research, then you will be spinning your wheels and burn through cash flow trying to re-position yourself. Want to know how many prospects were converted into paying customers based on a product or service offering? Not sure how much profit your idea will generate? Then ask a marketing consultant…the research is there”.

Other solutions to the time/money challenge:

Create a business plan or marketing plan regarding what you do, what clients you serve, who your referral partners are, how and where to network, what marketing tactics you will use, allocate dollars to it, measure results, and repeat cycle making adjustments based on what you learned.  There are books, coaches, programs, online tools, etc. to help hold you accountable to a plan, or to create a plan, and to measure the results of your plan.  Yes, these things take some money and money, but it isn’t cost prohibitive nor will it take time away from your business.  Some of the resources are as low as $20 or less for a book, or $20/month, or a 6 week program for $250.  I can get into specifics if you are interested.  Just contact me, or look at point #3 below for starters.

The tools also allow you to use your time efficiently so you are working on your business while working in your business.  You must do both to be successful!  Eventually you may be able to hire out some of the work with some added income.  Virtual assistants, contract attorneys, contract consultants can all help you on an ala carte basis as your budget allows.  This frees you up to do the things you are good at and which create income for you.

3)     Finding a target market or demographic to serve and then creating an effective marketing message that addresses their needs.

A friend of mine who is a coach mentioned how at one point he was exhausting himself with his marketing.    Eventually he learned how to design programs out of the expressed needs of his clients, rather than creating programs hoping his clients would need them.  That makes all the sense in the world.  I’ve heard for years, “find a need and fill it”, or “you’ll make all the money you want by helping others get what they want.”  It’s true.  I’ve experienced this myself.

If you have clients but feel you are spinning your wheels, buy this book:  Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. He will help you create your ideal target market and be so busy serving them you’ll never have to work with the wrong client again.  You won’t be ‘crazy’ busy, like you have been.  You’ll be spending the right amount of time, with the right people, and be energized by your work.  So much so, that you’ll hardly believe you are getting paid to do what you love so much!

If you don’t yet have clients or want more clients, then buy this book:  Get Clients Now, by CJ Hayden.  It approaches marketing like a menu in a restaurant.  You won’t eat the whole menu in one sitting, nor can you take on all of marketing at once.  It breaks down marketing into manageable portions:  an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert that you select from the menu of marketing options.  You’ll create daily action steps for yourself all on a one page document and at the end of one month, you will achieve your goals if you stick to the program.  You can create a new program the next month with different marketing options, or use the same one and maybe ramp up your goals to the next level.  You’ll deal with all stages of the sales cycle systematically and with ease, including: filling the pipeline, getting appointments, making presentations, follow-up, and closing the sale.   I also have a resource who created a group course around Get Client Now, so you have built in accountability.  The book alone is a starting point, but creating a community of supportive partners will help you take the ideas to the next level.

Whether you hire someone to do research about your target market, or you hire a marketing consultant, or you use the ideas from Get Clients Now or Book Yourself Solid, just get into action and start doing what you were meant to do.  Often that’s the stumbling block for some.  They haven’t discovered their purpose and passion and are doing something they are good at, but which they don’t love doing.  And the many functions of the business ends up draining them rather than energizing them.   

If you do love your job or business, and love your clients, then they are the valuable source of information of how to serve them well.  Just ask them and in response design solutions that meet their needs.

4)  Financial advisors claim that their biggest marketing challenge is compliance.  They aren’t able to use a lot of the social media tools the way other professionals can, and anytime they write something it has to be approved by compliance which often makes it outdated by the time that happens.  Otherwise, they have to use the “vanilla, industry approved content” which is very generic and not likely to be read.

While financial advisors may have some restrictions when it comes to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook profiles, you can still meet prospects and clients face to face, network in person with referral partners, be active in your community, serve on boards at your favorite charitable organization, volunteer at your place of worship or in the community, etc.  Relationship building is critical for financial advisors and most professionals, because someone won’t hire you for your expertise until they know and trust you.  Serve first and collect a fee later, once you’ve earned someone’s trust and respect. 

These things all take time, and to build a long term successful practice one’s relationship building skills must be first rate.  I see branding as a critical issue for financial advisors and creating a niche clientele.  Otherwise they can’t distinguish themselves from the sea of advisors out there.    

5)    “Not knowing what to do next”.  They know what’s not working, but they are not sure what to do differently.  This challenge can occur when one is burnt out in their business, or they’ve simply run out of ideas.  Many successful entrepreneurs will tell you about the failed attempts at business before they made it big.  Persistence is the key and it is important to learn from the past attempts when creating something new. Sometimes our business runs its course, and the product service is no longer needed.  Other times the professional loses the passion they first had for the business.  It’s important to continually look at who you are and ask, “am I doing what I was created to do or am I just doing something I know how to do?”  Finding your purpose and passion and creating your profession out of it will fulfill both you and your clients.  There are also many successful coaches, consultants, research companies, marketing companies, etc. that you can turn to if you have passion but lack necessary skills or information about what to do next.  If ever you need to know, who to talk to about a given challenge, consider me a resource. I love matching people in need with those who fulfill that need.    

Can you relate to any of these marketing challenges or solutions?  How have you overcome these or other marketing challenges in your business? I’d love to hear your story. Where do you turn for answers or information, or who helps you when you get stuck?  Thanks for reading and commenting!

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Lori T. Williams is an attorney based in Birmingham, MI, licensed in 1989.  As owner of a legal referral business called Your Legal Resource, PLLC, Lori personally assists individuals and small businesses in need of legal advice or representation in Metro Detroit by connecting them with the right legal specialist to meet their needs. Click here for a pdf of legal referral services. 

Through group training and events, Lori also focuses on referral marketing strategies for attorneys and other professionals. For more information about Lori or Your Legal Resource, visit  For networking events, training programs, and workshop information, visit:


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