Recently, I talked to a client about marketing tactics. She told me about using a few quiet moments on the weekend to schedule social media posts and expressed her frustration because she had not written a blog post in weeks. She talked about spending hours driving to and from an in-person networking meeting and about engaging in Facebook groups and free communities late at night and during her daughter’s swim meets.

I asked her which of these things is most effective for her, and she couldn’t tell me. She said she wants to track results, but she can’t find the time to figure out exactly what to track – let alone learn how to track it.

When I asked her how her last few clients found her, she looked confused. “Honestly,” she said, “I’m not sure. I don’t know how people find me.”

My advice for her was simple…

Step away from doing all the things to market your business. You don’t need all that craziness.

My client didn’t need to run herself ragged trying to implement multiple marketing tactics. She didn’t need to sacrifice family time or creative energy to engage on multiple social platforms, write blog posts, and go to networking meetings.

She didn’t need lots of tactics… and neither do you. All you need is an effective marketing strategy implemented in a simple way.

Effective marketing strategy is basically a conversation.

I shared a blog post a few weeks ago about marketing to get a few clients as quickly as you can. I talked about creating a basic marketing conversation for your business. It was good stuff… and you can read that post here.

I’m going to repeat myself… Marketing is – at its core – a conversation between you and your potential clients. The purpose of the conversation is to make your potential clients aware of a problem, define the problem and the solution, and present yourself and your work as the ideal solution for them. When you break it down, it has four main elements:

  • You have a problem – identify the problem in a way that they can understand and feel emotionally.
  • This is the problem – define the problem by bringing clarity to their feelings and identifying the theme that ties those feelings together.
  • This is the solution – define the solution in a way that aligns it with your work.
  • I have the solution – talk about your work and the aspects of your business that make you the right person to solve this problem for them.

This basic conversation is the foundation of your marketing strategy. It is the way you connect with people who need what you do… and persuade those people to take action and reach out to you to learn more.

Marketing tactics are simply methods for sharing this conversation with potential clients.

You might share this conversation in person at a networking meeting. Or, you might write a blog post that contains elements of this conversation. You may post or tweet or pin elements of this conversation. It is the conversation that makes a connection and inspires action, not the method itself.

Implementing tactics without also implementing strategy is just a huge waste of time and energy.

That’s why our social media efforts often creates friends and followers (people who like the random stuff we post and pin and tweet) but often fails to create new clients. Our preferences in kitchen countertops or our capsule wardrobe or our thoughts on Game of Thrones simply don’t inspire people to work with us. They don’t further the conversation.

Select the tactic that best reaches your ideal client, so you can keep things simple and build momentum.

When you want to have a conversation with a specific person, you contact them in a way that will connect the two of you. My family and friends know that I don’t text and that the best way to reach me is via email. I know that if I really want to reach my children (who are young adults) I have to step out of my comfort zone and actually text them. We learn to adapt the way we communicate in order to connect with the people who matter in our lives.

In the same way, if we want to reach our ideal clients for a marketing conversation, we have to go where they are to connect with them.

Before you can select a marketing tactic, you need to understand your ideal client and learn how they engage online. Maybe your client reads blogs in major outlets like Entrepreneur or Huffington Post. Or maybe the type of client you prefer connects a lot via LinkedIn or hangs out in Facebook groups. Social media might not be important to your client, but high value resources are super helpful to him or her. Select the tactic you think will best reach your ideal client.

Master the tactic you selected before you add any other tactics.

There’s a common mistake I’ve seen many people make when marketing. They select a marketing tactic – such as marketing on Facebook – and they invest a bit of time and effort into it. But they get discouraged when the results are underwhelming… and they decide to try something new.

They make a decision based on results before they master the tactic itself. #faultylogic

Consider this…

  • Maybe blogging is the right strategy for you, but your blog posts aren’t compelling.
  • Maybe Facebook advertising is the perfect strategy, but you need to master pixels and retargeting for it to work the way you want.
  • Perhaps your potential client loves connecting on LinkedIn but your profile is shoddy or missing key information.
  • Perhaps podcasts are ideal but your sound quality turns people off to your message.

Before you can determine the effectiveness of a tactic, you need to make sure you’re effectively implementing the tactic itself. The problem might be your execution… and that problem won’t be fixed by trying something new.

Invest your time and energy in refining your conversation and mastering your chosen marketing tactic. You’ll get results.

Marketing is a long game. It takes consistent effort over time to build real results. My suggestion? Simplify your approach and invest your efforts where they matter most. You’ll be glad you did.

How to choose a primary marketing strategy as a freelance web or brand designer.
Author: Michelle Hunter

Michelle Hunter is a business strategist and copywriter with a gift for connecting entrepreneurs and their clients using great writing. She is a regular contributer to the DtD blog and co-creator of Designing Success Bootcamp - Helping designers create a strong marketing engine to power business growth. Visit to contact Michelle or learn more.