Wondering how to scare the parents of a college-age child?
Here’s all you need to do: sneak up behind them and whisper, “It’s time to fill out the FAFSA for next year.”
FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – is a document that needs to be completed annually and for each child, if you hope to reduce the financial burden known as college.
It’s a bear, requiring you to gather and decipher any number of financial and tax-related documents of both parent and student.
Toss in the financial untidiness resulting from the fact that both my wife and I are self-employed, and with the possible exception of, “It’s time for your colonoscopy” – assuming there is any difference between the two – no phrase causes more emotional distress.
With three children, and my last soon to enter his final year of college, I have now been through the FAFSA process 12 times.
Do I know how to do it? Pretty much.
After stumbling around for the first three or four years, I know which documents to keep handy, which passwords are needed, and which deadlines matter.
I can do it, but I hate every minute of it.
Many professionals look at marketing the same way – a painful, complicated, necessary evil in the never-ending quest for high quality, well-paying clients.
If that’s how you think of marketing, I have good news for you: we can get rid of the painful piece, right now.
Find What You Don’t Hate
There’s only one correct way to do the FAFSA.
Professional services marketing, by contrast, is like exercise … there are a nearly unlimited number of options for getting the job done.
Consider my experience last week in a working session of a networking group I frequent…
We got together on a Zoom call for the sole purpose of sharing our answers to the following question: “How do you market your business?”
Every person in the group has been working for themselves for at least 10 years. Which means that every person in the group has figured out something that works in the name of getting clients.
But you know what? While we each have a routine … everyone’s routine is different.
Out of 80 participants (we broke into small discussion groups and documented the various approaches), I counted no fewer than 35 different types of activities that people swore by.
There was no right answer – it was all over the map, including networking, public speaking, book publishing, social media, hiring a coach, publishing a newsletter, joining associations, and many more.
So, which are the best activities?
It’s the wrong question to ask.
Not because there are not differences in their relative effectiveness. There are.
Rather, it’s because what matters most in marketing for a small professional service firm or independent is not which is “best” … it’s which are you going do well and regularly.
Because I promise you one thing: If you hate an activity, regardless of how effective it may be in general, you’ll do it poorly and, pretty soon, not at all.
Here’s the Bottom Line
I’ve written before about the importance of keeping your marketing simple. If it’s too complicated, no matter how effective it may be in theory, it will soon collapse of its own weight.
As important, is that you choose activities that, while you may not love them, you don’t hate so much that you’ll avoid them like a FAFSA application.
The best marketing activities are the ones you actually do.
- Have you ever completed the FAFSA?
- What question causes you the most emotional distress?
- What well-regarded marketing activity do you hate the most?
Share your answers below…