"Playing the Marketing Game" with Sue Klefstad
By Laura A. Ewald
A dozen Heartlanders gathered at the Richmond, Indiana, MCL Cafeteria on October 5th to enjoy and benefit from a most productive gathering. Sue Klefstad presented her detailed handout, “Playing the Marketing Game,” for which we circled the tables and benefited not only from Sue’s research and experience from a publishing industry perspective but also from the really good conversation to which everyone contributed their own personal experience. The information Sue provided could actually be used to build any freelancing business, but this day we focused—of course—on the world of indexing. (You can download the handout by clicking the link at right.)
Sue’s “Playing the Marketing Game” handout is well worth a detailed study, but here are some of the main points to get your mental juices flowing:
First, marketing for indexers is both self-marketing and the marketing of indexes in general.
“PR-minded indexers believe that attitudes of the public (readers, writers, publishers) toward indexing and indexers is frequently uninformed and dismissive; that if they knew better, they would insist on better indexes; that if they did so, we would have more and better-paid work.”[i] (Anne Leach)
This was brought home to me recently in one of my LinkedIn groups by a discussion about how indexes are totally superfluous for e-books, because readers can just do keywords searches! I did my part for the indexers’ cause by posting about the importance and value of indexes, and referring the group to the ASI page for more information, but alas, I’ve only had three “likes” on my comment since I posted it, and most posts in this thread continue with the “let the computer do it” mantra. Still, we must press on! As Sue points out, “Marketing is about the benefits you’re providing and the problems you’re solving.” And Larry Bonura says, “Each of us, by virtue of our ASI membership, is an unofficial ASI ambassador”[ii] So, when you come across one of those dismissive comments—wherever it may be—be passionate about your expertise, and sell it!
Second, remember that every communication is marketing. As an indexer, you need to brand yourself as both an expert and a professional.
“Our product is intangible: It cannot be examined prior to being sold. Therefore, we have to establish brand recognition to help endow our project with tangibility.”[iii] (Ina Gravitz)
Branding is “what your customers perceive about you and how you make them feel.” This is why it is so important to build an image of yourself as a professional to your customers. It may be found in your day-to-day operations, such as acknowledging the receipt of job pages and reiterating the basics of the contract before beginning the work; delivering a job on time and in the required format; building relationships with potential clients by following up on job leads; backing up files regularly so there is never a time that a computer glitch delays a job; pursuing continuing education—and posting it on your webpage, so clients and potential clients know you are serious about your profession; writing news releases for the local newspaper or the publications of any related professional organizations to which you might belong, which is basically free publicity! All of these suggestions get your name out there and shout, “I am a professional indexer! Hire me!”
Third, as freelancers, we need to find a marketing strategy, a “how to” for reaching potential clients. Numerous options were discussed, including cold calling, e-mail only, the ASI Indexer Locator, websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Places, etc. Needless to say, there are as many possible combinations as there are indexers, and each indexer needs to explore their options to see what will work best for him or her. Do look at Sue’s handout, which provides a whole plethora of reference sources, web sources, associations, and tools along with some helpful “how to” instructions and links to related articles available online.
Bottom line: Tell everyone you know that you are an indexer! Come up with that one-line explanation for what it is you do—and how important it is for books and publishing. Tell your friends, acquaintances, people you meet socially or in another professional setting. Carry business cards with you everywhere to encourage follow-up. Talk about books and writing—you might be surprised at how many people you know are actually writing a book. Be prepared to say “good-bye” to your comfort zone. As Sue shared, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”[iv] Her most-useful handout includes a number of “comfort zone busters” that can help you explore your potential and succeed as a freelance indexer. Believing in yourself is the key first step.
And finally, as all of you who are able to attend Heartland meetings know, one of the most valuable resources for us is our ASI Heartland Chapter and the people you get to know through it. As Sue points out about this most recent meeting, “By far, my most valuable resource on marketing was the Heartland fall meeting itself. The synergy of the group brought out ideas, tried and untried, and sent me off with good energy.”
So get out there, Heartlanders! You can do it! Market yourself and market indexing. Use the techniques you will find on Sue’s terrific handout to get yourself out of your comfort zone and into the freelance life. Whether you’re going after indexing jobs or any piggyback jobs, such as writing or editing, you can use these tools to find success, so go for it!
Sue Klefstad (SueTheIndexer.com) is the current Junior Co-President of the Heartland Chapter. After more than a decade in the publishing industry, Sue took the ASI Training in Indexing course, joining ASI in 2007 and making her first Heartland Chapter appearance in 2009. For more information on Sue, see her “Greetings from Sue Klefstad, Junior Co-President.”
[i] Leach, Anne (2011) “Index ignorance—A sorry fact.” Marketing Your Indexing Services, 3rd ed., Information Today, Inc. and ASI, p. 2.
[ii] Bonura, Larry (1998). “Many faces of publicity.” Marketing Your Indexing Services, 1st ed., Information Today, Inc. and ASI, p. 1.
[iii] Gravitz, Ina (2011). “Self-marketing basics.” Marketing Your Indexing Services, 3rd ed., Information Today, Inc. and ASI, p. 12.
[iv] Walsch, Neale Donald. “Neale Donald Walsch quotes.” BrainyQuote. Available 16 Oct. 2013.
© 2013 by Heartland Chapter of ASI. All rights reserved.
"Remember that every communication is marketing."