A friend’s friend, Ryerson, reached out to me and wanted to know how to make the transition from a corporate marketer to an independent consultant. How did I build my personal brand, and get speaking gigs? How did I get interview opportunities?
Here is what I shared with him: don’t worry about what I did. Work on four things first. These four elements will shape what you should do next.
- Focus on small wins: If money is an issue, you need to have income immediately. The best way is to contract with former employers. There are always things that need to be done. Assuming that you left on good terms, contracting back is an option to keep you afloat.
- Network, network, network: Go through your contact list. Set up coffee meets to let everyone know that you are available, and you are looking for opportunities. I told Ryerson that he needs to reach out to past colleagues and agencies and let them know that he is available for hire. Meeting face-to-face is more powerful than short email exchanges.
- Craft your ideal customer profile: I asked Ryerson who are his ideal customers. He couldn’t tell me. Who are the customers that he wants to work with? Enterprise marketers? Small business owners or what not? Can he visualize his customer? I asked him to write a 500-word essay about his ideal customer. The writing will help him create or shape a persona which will guide his value propositions.
- Define your own value propositions and offerings: Ryerson told me that he is a jack-of-all-trades, but Jack-of-all-trades is great if people know you. For people who don’t know, it’s hard to convince them that you can do everything. So, what can he really offer to his ideal customers? Why does his ideal customer need from him? As a consultant, what really differentiates him from other consultants? He needs to define that for himself.
I told Ryerson to get these done: ideal customer profile and value propositions will guide his website development, LinkedIn profile writing, his elevator pitch to potential customers, even his personal brand development.
I shared with him that this is not the most difficult part. The challenging part comes from business development and constant promotion of self. The truth is that he needs to promote himself every day. It doesn’t stop. It’s hard work.
There are many ways to do self-promotion. There are no right or wrong ways, per se.
For me, I focus on content marketing. I create original content such as books, blog, and podcast to share my knowledge and expertise, I then promote that content on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Everything I do is organic. Frankly, I should do more paid and sponsored, but I chose to allocate budget to create content and focus on 3 social media channels.
I also do email marketing to share useful templates and content.
Oh, I also spent a lot of time on SEO and website speed optimization. For business development, I am constantly on LinkedIn to source potential leads and I follow up with marketing professionals who sign up for my newsletter or reach out to me via various channels.
Everything I said so far is only for digital channel outreach.
I also attend marketing conferences, networking events and do coffee-meets with colleagues, friends and potential prospects on a regular basis. Offline Networking is as important as online digital marketing outreach.
Client projects and speaking engagement are the results of consistent digital, offline marketing outreach and customers’/friends’ referrals. There is no short cut.
I told Ryerson that he didn’t have to do all that. I did everything based on my budget. When I started 4 years ago, my revenue was small, so my marketing effort was small. Now, I spend more money on a website, SEO, content creation, influencer outreach since I have more revenue available. To do marketing right takes time, effort and money. You just need to do it, learn from your mistakes and keep working at it.
Ryerson told me that he will start with my 4 suggestions and he’ll keep me posted on how things go.
If you have been through a career transition, share with me how you did it. Love to hear from you. You know where to reach me.
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Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner.
Before you leave, make sure to check out the previous #7MinMarketing episodes!
Keep Hustling, my friends. You got this.