Most people, when they go into a business, think that if they are good at what they do, they will be successful. For instance, a photographer believes that all he has to do is take good pictures… and he will have more business than he can handle.

Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work out that way at all.

There are legions of small-business owners, especially in service industries, who are technically competent or even excellent at their professions… yet make a modest living, at best. That’s because they don’t know the ultimate secret to achieving outrageous success in any business, which is this:

Those who make the most money in any profession or service business – from accountants and ad agencies to window washers and Web designers – are those who are the best at marketing and selling themselves… not at performing the actual function or service.

Doctors, attorneys, and other professionals have traditionally held the opposite point of view. They criticize competitors who advertise, saying, “If your service is any good, you wouldn’t have to promote it with such hype.”

Nice to think so, but naive.

Problem is, there are too many options for any product or service that a customer might be interested in buying. So if you want him to choose yours, you have to get your message to him. He’s not going to go looking for you.

How do you get your message across to him? Through a simple 4-step process that I teach for continually selling and promoting yourself and your small business.

Over the years, I’ve shared this process with dozens of copywriters, graphic designers, consultants, and people in many other service professions. Those who apply it consistently enjoy a number of benefits, including increased income, elimination of slow periods, greater cash flow, and enhanced prestige and status within their market or industry.

Here’s the process in a nutshell:

1.  Find out what makes you different from all your competitors.  If there is no difference, work to create one. This difference,  your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), is what enables you  to convince prospects to hire you instead of your competition.

2.  Engage in reputation-building activities that boost your visibility  and credibility among your target market – and establish you  as an expert in your field. By this, I mean things like writing  articles, giving speeches, having your own website, and publishing  your own e-newsletter.

3.  Create a “lead machine” that uses tested  lead-generating promotions (e.g., space ads, sales letters,  postcards) to bring you a steady stream of qualified leads.  The idea is to keep your new-business pipeline filled to overflowing.  To do this, you need a “lead machine” that can generate  a minimum of one or two qualified leads for every 100 names  you contact.

4.  Run prospects that flow from your new-business pipeline through  a “funnel” in which, through follow up, you gradually  convert 10% to 50% of them from inquiries into orders – and  then into repeat customers.

Over the past year, I have fine-tuned this 4-step process and it is now available as a simple program that I call “Selling Yourself.”

Although “Selling Yourself” was originally designed for freelance copywriters, all of the self-promotion secrets in this system can work – and have worked – for dozens of other kinds of self-employed professionals.

Carla  J. followed these steps and, within the first year, reached goals that she had set for year three of her business. David  W. said that the process I teach “would have taken  years to learn on my own, not to mention the tens of thousands  of dollars my mistakes would have cost me.” Steve  S. wrote to say that this program helped him attract more  and better clients – and earn higher fees. (He already makes  well over $100K annually.) Victor  E. says he’s actually afraid to keep promoting himself.

“I’ve landed so much work I may not be able to do it  all.”

Anyone who sells a professional, creative, or trade service can significantly boost their business by using the self-promotion steps that this program teaches.

It’s certainly possible to “do it yourself” and be very successful. But if you want a much higher chance of getting ahead, please check Today’s Action Plan, below, for the details of my upcoming personal workshop. (Only 5 spots are still available, so if you’re interested, you need to sign up quickly.)

[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is the editor of ETR’s Direct Marketing University: The Masters Edition – a program to help you start your own successful direct-mail business.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.