Why You Only Need Three Marketing Strategies

I was a brand-spanking new consultant proudly presenting the draft of my very first client report to the man who would become a treasured mentor.

He briefly scanned it (the copious edits would come later) and his eyes lit on the two solutions I’d outlined.

Instead of marveling at my brilliance, he handed the report back to me and told me that I needed to flesh out three solutions. Not two, not four, but three.

He went on to call consultants who could only envision two options as uninspired and intellectually lazy. His reasoning: two choices allowed you to hit the outliers, but you always need to stake a middle ground. And the optimum implementable answer—especially in big complex companies—was often somewhere in that middle.

So the power of three was drilled into my head early and often (if you’re wondering why not four or more, take another look at the infamous jam experiment).

Turns out that the power of three also applies to your personal marketing and selling.

Related: How To Fatten Up Your Client Pipeline.

As a solo or small independent, you don’t have the luxury of experimenting with every marketing strategy du jour, much less trying to run six or seven at the same time. Nor can you afford to change your strategies on a whim just because something sexier walks by.

Choosing no more than three strategies allows you to both focus your energies and fully leverage the content you produce.

Take “Allen”. He has a successful off-line business but wanted to start attracting clients digitally over time to build a steadier pipeline. He loves to write, so he decided to begin blogging weekly (Strategy 1). (Note: this strategy includes having a Virtual Assistant distribute his blog posts across his social media.)

He enjoys meeting new people and briefly flirted with starting a podcast. But the time required to both write his blog and host a podcast felt overwhelming at this point in his evolution. So instead, he pitches himself as a podcast guest a couple times a month (Strategy 2). He’s not only steadily racked up a series of interviews he can share with his growing audience, but he’s building relationships with those hosts and widening his base.

His last strategy is a slight variation on how he grew his off-line business into its current profitable state—he networks with people with whom he resonates (Strategy 3). Only now instead of limiting himself to his own backyard, he has conversations and builds relationships with people across the country.

The elegance of Allen’s three is that he doesn’t have to think about what to do with his marketing time. He’s writing or pitching himself as a podcast guest or building new relationships.

“Rachel” had a different starting point as a brand new business owner. While she had many relationships from her prior corporate life, her challenge was how to start positioning them to refer or collaborate with her.

She had a powerful presence, so making weekly videos with advice to her sweet-spot buyers was her entrée into the public eye (Strategy 1). Unfortunately, she was far too scattered on the rest of her many initiatives: running an industry group, writing guest articles, networking with a peer group she’d started mentoring, speaking (gratis) at every local venue that would have her. She was exhausted.

So we streamlined. We revamped her speaking from business development (turns out it wasn’t sending her clients) to a small but growing revenue stream. She focused on running her industry association that was a rich source of relationships, referrals and prospects (Strategy 2). And we layered the occasional guest article over that (Strategy 3). She not only got a nice chunk of her time back, she started making more money from speaking and increased her visibility where it mattered most.

It’s NOT about doing more—who has the bandwidth to take on more without dropping one of the plates you’re already spinning?

Instead, it’s about focus. It’s about leading with your best three bits. And then—this is equally as important—sticking with them long enough to truly gauge their success.

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