Marketing: A long-term relationship or whistle-stop tour?

Marketing: A long-term relationship or whistle-stop tour?

A whistle-stop tour of Europe is what the Aussies and Americans are famous for when they fly over to visit the UK. There’s too much to see when you’ve travelled all that way to stay in one place for a long-term stay.

When my Australian cousin and his girlfriend stayed with us, it was for one night on their way to Paris. They stunned me with their itinerary for the next couple of weeks: France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Scotland, Ireland, England… and their travel photos hopped from one country to the next. A Gaudi building in Barcelona, broad bean plants in Modena, eating eclairs in Toulouse, drinking Guinness in Dublin. 

Their approach is that everything is so close, why wouldn’t you? Back home, they drive 12 hours to spend a weekend with relatives. If I drove 12 hours from my home in South-east England, I’d probably end up in the North Sea.

A lot of business owners approach marketing at the speed my Aussie cousins hurtle through Europe. They power through different marketing tactics trying to find The One that gets results.

The problem with this approach is that the rewards from marketing pay off in the long term. Some of the best business opportunities aren’t obvious, they’re not advertised, and you can’t spot them if you’re constantly on the move. Stay with one strategy for a while and really explore what’s available to you.

Path through local woodland
Explore like a local and get a feel for the area

Long-term strategies always deliver the best results

I’m trying to think of an exception to this bold statement and I can’t because those overnight success stories are based on a bucket load of time and effort*. Only 2-3 % of buyers are ready to buy at any point. So if you strike gold with a project from a cold contact right away (wahey!), I’d suggest that they won’t be a fantastic client until a couple of projects in, once you’ve got to know each other better.

If you want more work right this minute, maximise the time and effort you’ve already put in:

  • Contact existing clients to see if you can help them with a new project
  • Share client-focused content you’ve already created
  • Get in touch with people you’ve already contacted but didn’t follow up with (warm leads)

Take a look at this blog post about finding translation work when your inbox is quiet for more ideas.

*You may get a client through LinkedIn and put that down to sheer luck. Even if you happened to come up in their recommendations, they won’t contact you without checking your profile, your activity (your posts and comments on others) and seeing if you have mutual contacts. I’d say it’s also a possibility that your name was mentioned in a conversation, or they found you elsewhere and LinkedIn happened to be the last place they looked to gather more information. You will have put time into social media, your website, developing your network already, so take the credit for your long-term marketing efforts.

Long-term marketing means finding time even when you’re busy

Even if you’re swamped with projects, don’t stop marketing. Because the 15 minutes you can spend to make a new connection or brainstorm ideas, won’t suddenly flood your inbox with exciting projects that need to be delivered right now. But those 15 minutes will provide you with something to build on when you have more energy and your projects have finished.

Plus, marketing when you’re busy has a different vibe. You can pitch yourself at higher rates, be bolder and experiment a little because you don’t need the work right that minute. It’s easier to shrug it off when someone says ‘no thank you’ because you’re busy anyway. But you might score a high-paying project, your boldness might bear fruit, and the fact that you can’t help clients immediately shows you’re in demand.

Long-term marketing even when you're busy gives off a different vibe
Your outlook is more positive when you’re busy, use that to your advantage

Marketing tip

Long-term marketing is, as the name suggests, a consistent activity that gets rewards over time. If it all seems rather pointless in the moment, it’s a good idea to remind yourself why you’re engaging in these activities. Remember:  

You’re not writing the article for now; you’re writing it for the future. 

Sales letters, video content, warm emails, connection requests, it’s all the same. You’re helping yourself at the same time as your clients. Explaining how you can add value, what results clients can expect from you and other useful content will reap dividends. It means that by the time they’re ready with a project, you’ve got the relationship warmed up and your contacts are primed to be your new best business friends.

Getting started when it feels like you’re embarking on a marketing marathon

Often, we’ll set ourselves a target or underestimate the effort it will take to win over our ideal clients. If the goal you’ve set yourself seems too large, you need to break it down and chip away at it over time.

Let’s say you want to run a marketing campaign. Tiny actions that you can fit in even when you’re busy might look like this:

  •    Day 1: Decide what type of clients you want to target, the industry and source language country.
  •    Day 2: Find one company that matches this profile (just the company for now)
  •    Day 3: Find two more companies
  •    …
  •    Day 55 (for instance): Send a follow-up email to your new contacts 
  •    …
  •    Day 70: Start a translation for your new client

It could happen and it starts with 15 minutes a day.

Stick a timer on and call it a marketing HIIT workout. Energising music recommended. By taking the tiniest step every day, your actions will add up to something bigger over time. You’ll be astounded by how much you can achieve.

It’s how apps like Duolingo get you learning a language. They make it fun, encourage consistency and celebrate your achievements. Unlike Duolingo and its random phrases (I don’t think I’ll ever need to say “the cat is under the aeroplane” in Polish, although you never know), your 15 minutes of marketing will compound and give you useful insights. Grab a colleague and get some accountability, cross off your actions on a tracker and watch your streak of long-term marketing achievements grow!

Accountability and structured marketing

Do you have a goal in mind already and know how to break it down? Set that timer and get moving 🙂 I recommend telling another person or declaring your goals publicly for some external motivation. Having a colleague or business friend in another industry working towards the same or different goals will help you stay on track. And this accountability also gives you someone to cheer you on when the wrong kind of challenges rear their ugly heads.

You might want a little more structure. You know more or less what you want to achieve but aren’t sure how to reach that goal, want some inspiration, and help to break down the bigger task into smaller actions. In that case, I’d like to suggest The Expedition Group. This is a membership group for translators where I set monthly challenges, already broken down into practical actions that help you achieve your longer-term goals.

Variety + practical guidance and support

Variety – Every month there’s a different topic related to marketing so you’ll never get bored! However, each marketing adventure (isn’t that more exciting?) is designed to work with your bigger goal and is broken down into step-by-step actions. It’s the best of both worlds.

Guidance – Each expedition comes as a mini-course based on my experience marketing my own translation business with practical examples and recommended next steps for you. And I don’t know everything. I bring in experts who can give us tips and the benefit of their experience in different areas. For example, we’ve had experts give us their insights on websites, pitching, content writing, messaging and much more.

Individual support – This isn’t a huge group where you’ll get lost in the masses. When you join, we have a 30-minute call to talk about where your business is now, where you want it to be and what your next steps are. You can also send me your marketing materials for feedback and I’ll take the time to provide personalised suggestions. Usually, I’ll return your materials as a pdf with comments and provide a video walkthrough. And, of course, you get to know the other lovely humans in the group, and benefit from their support and experience too.

Marketing made fun. Adventures that stretch your comfort zone. Practical support and guidance to get the results you need. All intended to help you stay consistent with a long-term marketing strategy to reach your translation business goals and enjoy the journey along the way.

Some of the topics you can find inside The Expedition Group membership
A selection of the marketing adventures inside The Expedition Group

If you’d like to come and join the fun, you can find all the details here. You can contact me at any time by email [email protected] if you have any questions.


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