When I first started my business back in 2009, I was skeptical about the whole marketing and networking thing. I was simply a guy with a computer and an idea. It wasn’t clear how I’d be able to bring in clients other than through Google Ads and my website.
So, for about 9 years, I did basically zero marketing or networking outside of Google ads.
The main reason why I didn’t bother? I thought that unless I was getting hordes of clients from my efforts, it wasn’t worth the trouble. But I was wrong.
To best explain my point here, I’d like to use a baseball analogy.
When I played college baseball (Go Bonnies!), I challenged the single season home run record. The interesting thing about that was that I was NOT historically a home run hitter. In fact, I was among the national leaders in doubles per game.
So how did I hit so many home runs despite not being a home run hitter? I didn’t try to hit them! I know it sounds kind of funny, but the key to my success was staying focus on “staying within myself”.
For years, I had focused on the basic fundamentals of my baseball swing. And that’s what lead to my success. I didn’t try to do too much all at once. I tried to hit singles, and never expected home runs.
What does Jason’s baseball swing have to do with marketing?
I succeeded in hitting home runs by NOT expecting to hit home runs. I tried to hit singles. The focus was on the process (i.e.lots of practice and focusing on my training during games), not the result. The same holds true for marketing and networking.
If you expect to meet one person, or run one ad, that will instantly send you all the clients you will ever need, you’re going to be disappointed. And you’re going to fail.
The key to successfully marketing or networking is persistence. I know that sounds hollow, so I’m going to tell you exactly how I built my referral network by hitting a bunch of singles. By “singles”, I mean that I don’t have any referral sources that send me a ton of business. Instead, I have a bunch that send me, on average, anywhere from 1 to 5 leads per month.
I accomplished in a variety of ways:
I already had a bunch of co-workers from my former life as a banker. I started by connecting with those people, then LinkedIn started suggesting others to connect with. Anyone associated with SBA loans, I reached out to and ask for a quick call.
Since I sometimes get calls from people looking for financing, so I try to connect with SBA lenders. Some assume that I am looking for a referral fee, but I’m not. Instead, I ask them to keep me in mind if a borrower in default on their SBA loan ever calls.
Looking outside my network with pertinent keywords was low-hanging fruit I also went after. I googled phrases like SBA workout and SBA special assets. With just a few keystrokes, there were hundreds of professionals who live in my world.
The best part of LinkedIn is that it required no awkward cold calls or emails that will never be returned.
Scope The Competition
I have about a dozen keywords and phrases for that I’ve been fighting to get on page 1 of Google for years. I’m on page 1 for most of them, but am never able to crack the top 3.
Do you know what’s the next best thing to your own site being in the top 3 of Google? Working with those that are in the top 3 to send traffic your way!
For example, SBA loan forgiveness one of my keywords. I’m not in the top spot, so I went ahead and contacted the writer of the article that is. I pitched the idea of a referral agreement to the writer, and she loved it. Now, every time someone visits that article, they are offered a free consultation with yours truly.
I’ve been writing articles for years, and as a result, I get inquiries on a regular basis from people who read one of my articles. This has been the most time consuming ways to attract customers, but it’s also free.
Google “SBA loan default consequences” and you’ll see the fruit of my labor. This is the first organic result:
I pay Google to place my ad at the top of results. It’s not cheap, but still worth it because it generates consistent quality leads.
I reach out to sites with themes similar to my own (business, finance, debt) and offer to write guest posts. Each post links to my site, so anyone who reads my article can reach out to me directly. Links also help with SEO.
I’ve got a series of videos about the basics of SBA default. If someone searches Youtube with one of my top keywords, my videos come up.
While none of the above send me tons of leads, each sends me leads here and there. And that’s the key here. None of my efforts have resulted in grand slams, but single after single after single has allows me to build a business that has a consistent influx of leads.
Are they always from the same sources? No. But do they always come? They do indeed. So while I haven’t hit a grand slam from a marketing perspective, all those singles have added up to a great business!