The question of marketing and what are the three different stages of marketing may seem like one of those obvious kind of no brainer questions. And many of you might think you already know what they are. 

But, when you look at your own results with attracting, marketing, and selling to clients how sure are you? 

Are you feeling confident when you go out onto social media? Do you have a process or a system or a framework? Are you consistent in how you approach things? 

The chances are, you’re probably not. 

So many freelancers that I have worked with have struggled with really understanding marketing and sales in such a way that they can feel confident in doing it for themselves. 

Stage one of marketing is the Promotion stage 

Laptop with a large graphic of the word Promotion This is probably what most of you think of when you think about marketing. Promotion is where you are doing a lot of the talking, where you’re trying to get people’s attention, get them to know who you are, you are doing nurturing activities like email and organic social media posts. You are creating relationships. You are building trust. You’re sharing your work. 

You are doing all of the things that we normally think of as marketing, but promotion is only one piece of marketing. 

There are actually three stages. 

The promotion stage – all the things that you think of when you think of marketing like advertising, social media posts, nurturing emails – is stage one. 

After you market to your ideal audience, to your prospects, then the next thing is to take those leads and invite them to a sales conversation. 

After Promotion comes Sales 

The Sales Conversations is where you change the tone and the pace and the nature of the conversation. You start getting into the sales stage of marketing. 

In the first stage, you’re talking and you’re doing a lot of the sort of outbound kind of energy and communications. 

The second stage of marketing is where you stop talking and start listening more. 

Two women in a sales conversation over coffeeWhen you are in that sales stage, that’s where you’re inviting people to a conversation or you’re inviting them to book a call or fill out a form or you’re inviting them to engage with you. It starts to become more of a two way experience. And you are engaging them specifically in a sales conversation. 

This is where you are helping them figure out whether you are the right solution for their current problems or needs. 

In the Promotion stage of marketing, you are just generally sharing with the world. Hey, I’m here, I’m available. I can do this stuff for you. I got these solutions for you. 

And in the Sales stage, you are starting to get really curious and clear on what their specific problem is.What is the scope? What are the deliverables? What is the impact, the urgency, the uniqueness around their particular project or need? 

This is when you are designing an offer specifically for them, where you’re creating a proposal, where you’re creating an estimate or a quote. 

Yes, your proposal or quote is still a marketing tool. 

It’s still part of the experience that you are creating before they become your client before they’ve had a chance to actually experience your services. 

Many creatives forget that this is an integral part of getting the job. They tend to just slop it together in a word document and they don’t really worry about the format or the framework or how it’s being presented. 

I encourage you to start to consider phase two of your marketing and start to look at how you can be better at making the Sales stage a part of your marketing.

Do you have the systems and framework in place for you to be able to have a smooth and seamless journey with your prospect? Do you have all the systems and tools in place to have a smooth and easy journey for your lead and turn them into a client?

Client Delivery is Still Marketing

The third stage in your marketing is actually your client delivery experience. Yes, this is where you get to do your thing and deliver your service and be awesome and, wow, and delight and do all of that kind of stuff. 

And… in many ways, the experience that your client has with you while you’re delivering your service is still part of your marketing.It’s still part of creating a brand experience for them; building a reputation and creating an overall feeling of satisfaction (or amazement and delight!) so that they can give you a testimonial, leave a referral, and be an awesome case study for you. 

There’s so much more that is available to you in all of your client interactions to consider them as an opportunity for marketing. 

Lot's of marketing words on slips of paperAnd when I say marketing, right now in our economy and in the marketing world, most of our marketing is relationship marketing. 

Another way to think about this conversation is that there’s three stages to your relationship with your client. 

  1. the Promotion stage where you’re talking. 
  2. the Sales stage where you’re listening and gathering information to create a solution
  3. the Delivery stage is when you’re delivering that solution and you’re delighting them, such that they come back and hire you again, or send you a fabulous referral.

I’m curious, where do you think is your biggest hurdle when it comes to your freelance business? Are you more challenged by phase one or stage one? That promotional stage? Are you more challenged by stage two? The sales stage? Are you more challenged with having stage three as a very consistent client experience when you deliver and delight?

Post your comments below, let me know. And as always, you can book a call with me if you are having a personal struggle and want to find out more about how I might be able to help you.