Choo! All Aboard! -- CREATE A MARKETING TRAIN
Franz Copyright © 2003
Is your marketing program sporadic? A
"what-feels-good-this-week" kind of plan? Is it working
for you? If not, then here is a solution.
In order to create a gratifying and profitable professional
service business you need to have an effective long-term marketing
system in place. And the long-term system needs to include plans
that generate revenue on a short-term, medium-term and long-term
Here's a well-planned, tested and executed system, designed
specifically to funnel prospective clients into your business
because it gives you focus and clarity.
For visual effects, let us call it your "Marketing
Just like a regular train, there are three prime components of a
Marketing Train. (1) The locomotive, also called the engine, (2)
the cars, and (3) the caboose. Close your eyes and picture your
train right now. If you can, manually draw one right now to help
anchor that visually. Don't let the simplicity of this metaphor
pull the wool over your eyes. This is effective!
Okay, you have your Marketing Train vividly available to you
whenever you need it. Right?
Let's talk about these three parts of your Marketing Train...
If you didn't have an engine your train would be dead on the
tracks...right? This is also true for your Marketing Train.
As the engine pulls all the rest of the cars, your marketing
engine pulls the rest of your marketing activities. The engine is
the main strategy that drives your business forward. Here are some
examples of what can be fueling your engine: speaking to groups,
conducting workshops or teleclasses, forming strategic alliances
or partnerships, networking (could be done in many forms), direct
mail pieces, writing articles for your web site or in print, doing
radio interviews, being a guest speaker in other formats, sending
out a grassroots marketing letter.
Let's call the engine your active marketing strategy. Its movement
allows others to experience you in relation to all the rest.
For a smooth ride, you want to choose no more than three active
engine activities to focus on and continually repeat those.
Consistency and repetition are crucial! If you spread yourself too
thin, never go deep enough, or stay with it long enough, your
strategy will not be effective.
For service professionals focusing on filling their practice, 60
to 90 percent of your marketing focus and effort needs to be on
the active engine activities you choose. Usually the number of
clients/sales directly related to your focused effort on these
three activities. Your revenue is a telltale sign of your effort
and how fast your train is going. Your speed also relates to the
size of your engine.
In summary, choose three or less active marketing strategies to
focus on. Do them consistently, do them well, and let them drive
your business forward. Just like an engine would.
2. THE RAILROAD CARS
The number of railroad cars depends on the power of your engine.
If you have too many cars and not enough "ump" in the
engine, then the train creeps along. And so do the results.
This also occurs if you have any passive marketing activities.
They are important except not mandatory. Just like railroad cars,
they do little on their own. Usually, this is where I always find
my marketing clients. Why? Because its the most enjoyable and
comfortable place to be. Even I need to catch myself from staying
It is so easy to stay there too. The cars are comfortable. They
contain food, great views, and sleeping arrangements. It is easier
and seems safer. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy
the view. Almost like your coasting along because you are leaving
the driving up to someone else.
Railroad car activities include: designing a logo, placing
unnecessary items on your web site, creating a brochure, creating
clever business cards, or anything else that isn’t directly
attracting business. This does not mean that you don't do them.
When you do, exclude them from the 60/90 percent time for fueling
Yes, I know you are mumbling how I added the web site to this
list. Let me explain. A web site requires you to drive people to
the site...right? This makes the web site submissive until they
visit. The active part is getting them there. That would be one of
your three engine strategies.
3. THE CABOOSE
Ah...the tail end of the marketing train. Caboose activities,
besides housing the conductor, support the passengers.
I like to refer to the caboose as the "stay in touch"
activities. This can be your relationship marketing, ezine/newsletters,
or your contact management system. I like to categorize these into
what I call "follow-up" activities.
Three years ago, people needed 5-7 times follow-ups before they
purchased. Now, because of the increased skepticism in response to
the communication "junk" that floods their day, and they
lack the quality time it takes to continually focus on what they
are received, this number has increased 12 times.
Having an electronic newsletter (also called an ezine) can be a
great caboose strategy if consistent and contains valuable
information for its passengers. By itself, it is never a complete
follow-up strategy. Always maintain the 80/20 rule with your ezine
(80% value to 20% promotion).
The strategy of your marketing train is to fuel the train with the
best juice possible (great clients that can afford you). Placing
less than the best fuel in your engine will slow down the train,
make it spit and sputter, or even stop the train altogether. The
train usually needs more effort and chugs along. Not knowing your
fuel mixture will leave you stranded on a hill.
An ezine is a great caboose activity. Like a caboose, it does not
require fuel. The size of your mailing list usually reflects the
size of your practice and bottom income line. People who are not
passengers will get off quickly. So, if you have chosen an ezine
as a caboose activity, then one of the three engine strategies
MUST be in direct line for them to connect.
Oops, at the beginning I said there was one solution. Nope, I gave
you more than one. Okay, you can have them as a bonus.
Building Your Marketing Train
Redraw your train now. Label the locomotive (engine), the cars and
the caboose. Now create a list below each one and write in your
marketing activities. If you begin in the cars, follow it forward
to the engine; what strategy is pulling it forward? Now look at
your caboose list. What is on your follow-up activity that
In summary, if you are focusing on increasing your client base,
focus on your engine, its fuel, fuel mixture, and there is
efficient effort to pull the rest of the train. Repetition and
consistency is the key to deliberately create your results.
About the Author:
Franz is a full-time marketing and writing coach and
graduate of CoachU. Her clients have gifted her the title,
“Tennis Shoe Entrepreneur” because of her successful
business and marketing approaches including moving
businesses from bedroom corners to large conference rooms.
She was the senior partner in a CPA practice for 15 years
and has owned other businesses before becoming a coach. For
more about Catherine, visit: www.abundancecenter.com,
or call her to schedule a sample coaching session at