SWOT yourself a better marketing letter

At this time of year I usually look back over the previous 12 months both personally (where have I been, what shows have I seen, what books I have read) and from a business perspective (busy months, quiet times, interesting jobs, good clients, cash flow, CPD, etc.).
Checking diary entries always reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote from The Importance of Being Ernest: “I never travel without my diary: one should always have something sensational to read in the train”. Not that my jottings are sensational but the scantiest notes can bring back memories of splendid events and wonderful people, ideas created but not followed up and concerns that dissipated with time.
This is a suitable time to look over your client list. Decide which clients you have enjoyed working with and which were the good payers. You may resolve to discontinue working for poor payers and those that make unreasonable demands or continually change the goal posts after the job has been agreed.
It is also a good time to check your CPD record is up to date and plan your CPD for the coming year. You could also consider doing a SWOT analysis. Start with your strengths: qualifications, experience, recent CPD, other skills such as time management, flexibility, always meeting deadlines, etc. Then consider your weaknesses. This is for your own consumption so be honest with yourself. Use this information to highlight CPD needs for the coming year. Set yourself some goals.
These goals can be your opportunities. Threats may be things you have less control over, such as late payments, or no payments, infrequent work, low rates, etc. You should consider how to try to convert threats into opportunities. This takes us back to reviewing CPD and the client list.
If you decide you need to acquire some new clients you will probably want to do some marketing. But before you do, please take some time to think about it carefully. Over the summer I received quite a few letters from people offering translation services. They all made some quite obvious errors. By taking a look at these errors and avoiding them ourselves we can ensure that our own marketing efforts are more successful.
• The email was not address to me by name. The writer had not looked at my website or considered whether I would be interested in his/her services.
• The writer claimed to translate in to and out of a number of languages including English. However, his/her standard of English, though fair, contained a number of idiomatic and grammatical mistakes.
• The list of specialisms was long and very diverse.
• No qualifications were listed. One even stated that despite having no translation qualifications they were a good translator. (How do they know?) They all claimed to be 100% accurate all of the time.
• No membership of professional bodies was mentioned.
• The rates were very low.
• They claimed to have been working as translators for 10 or 20 years.
If they were as good as they claim to be and had been working as a translator for such a long time and for such low rates they would be in so much demand that they would not have time to send out marketing mailshots. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary I would consider these to be spam mail and certainly not open any attachments or click on any links, let alone offer them any work even if I were in a position to do so. There is really only one way to deal with such emails and that is to delete them.
So, what can we learn from them.
• Target your marketing. Make sure the client is likely to want your services. Read their website. Address your mailing to a person and reference the company specifically.
• Be honest about your language combinations and specialist areas. Emphasise your strengths (which you will know because you have done your SWOT analysis).
• State your qualifications and professional memberships.
• Be honest about your experience.
• Set a reasonable rate (check out the recent rates survey published by ITI and the CIoL).
If you are looking for a long term client instead of picking up passing trade it is worth taking the time to select your future clients carefully and ensure that you market yourself properly.

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One Response to SWOT yourself a better marketing letter

  1. […] 01/01/2015 SWOT yourself a better marketing letter by Jenny Whiteley (Lakesidelinguist’s Blog) […]

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