Do you ever look at your sales pipeline and go into marketing overload when you think about what you need to do to fill it?

You’re not alone.

You look at how many new clients you need to bring in to hit your targets and then you try to think about how you’re going to do it, That’s a nightmare in itself!

The problem is it’s so difficult to know where to start. What will actually work?

Only a few years ago, you pretty much had the choice of networking, direct mail, telemarketing or advertising when it came to marketing. Each with their own established best practices and rules.

Today as well as those, there’s organic and paid search, social media, social media ads, video marketing, email marketing. And it all seems to be changing all the time.

I’ve lost count of the number of “next big thing” emails I’ve received all trying to convince me to buy the latest and greatest method for getting a so-called flood of clients -each with some newfangled technique.

And that’s just Facebook!

When you’re just starting out as an M&E contractor – or even if you’re fairly well established – it can all be so overwhelming. So difficult to know what to do, and where to start. In fact I know a ton of smaller companies who just don’t do any of them as they are conflicting and time-consuming

It was a big issue for me when I set out on my own. In many ways because I focus on marketing and sales it’s worse – because I deliberately keep tabs on all the newest approaches.

Every time I tried to think of what I should do I couldn’t get a clear picture in my mind. And all the stories of other people succeeding with this method or that method just confused me further.

So how on earth do we figure out what to do without spending every waking hour networking, phoning, tweeting or blogging?

Below here is an approach I evolved that worked for me to clear the fog of uncertainty, clarity and give me some direction on what to do.

I can’t promise it will work for you – but give it a try – it’s been helpful to a number of people I’ve shown it to.

The key to is to break down your marketing into manageable chunks. Ones you can think about sensibly. Too often, when we think about how we’re going to get new clients we lump all our potential clients into one giant blob.

And you know what? You can’t market to a giant blob!

So I found it helpful to split my potential clients into Top Clients and Others. For me, Top Clients are the top 10 clients I’d really love to win over the next 6 months. Clients who – if I got to do business with just one or two of them – could set me up for the year. For you it might be a top 5 or a top 20. But essentially it’s a small number of ideal clients you can think about individually.

You could go more sophisticated and split them into type A/B/C etc. But let’s keep things simple for now.

The “others” are clients I’m not going identify specifically or do a specific plan for – there are just too many of them. But I do aim to win a number of them via more general marketing.

Then I split my marketing into short term and long term objectives.

Long term marketing is all about building trust and becoming a trusted authority. Doing the things that will attract clients to you so you don’t have to actively seek them out. Thought leadership, stuff with your website and the like.

But long term marketing takes time before it pays off. So you also need some short term activities to try to bring in clients right now. The kind of stuff that pays the bills while you work on the long term side.

Then – because I’m a consultant and it’s part of the standard modus operandi – I draw a simple little 2 x 2 matrix to represent this. Client types on one axis and time frame on the other. Something like this:

Then I think through what marketing activities would be the most appropriate in each box for each client type/time frame combination.

Splitting it up like this makes it much easier. Instead of struggling to see what marketing will magically work for all clients in all circumstances, I can take a “horses for courses” approach. It’s much easier to see what marketing will work in the short term for my top 10 clients, or to nurture relationships with the hundreds of “other” prospects who visit my website for example.

Usually, I end up thinking about referrals and extending existing client relationships for my top clients in the short term. And I develop unique, personalised nurture plans to build my relationship with my top prospects in the long term.

For the broader set of target clients, I’ll may pencil in approaches like webinars or direct mail in the short term – and I’ll focus on using email marketing nurture campaigns in the long term. Here’s an example of what the matrix might look like for a typical client:

Naturally, your own matrix will look different depending on your analysis of what marketing approaches will work for your specific clients – and what you’re good at.

But the key is that by breaking it up into this matrix rather than trying to eat the elephant all in one go, you blast away all of the confusing overwhelming stuff.

As I said, I can’t promise it’ll work for you – but it’s worked for me and many others – why don’t you give it a go. I’s not difficult or complicated