Marketing Self-Employment

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Marketing Self-Employment

Fred Diamond is the President of Diamond Strategic Marketing (DSM) and Founder of the Institute for Excellence in Sales & Business Development (IES&BD). Though Fred joined the NASE in 2004 initially for the health insurance, he agrees the NASE has proven over the years to offer much more than just a source of health insurance. Diamond Strategic Marketing helps growing companies (local, national and international) develop sound and smart product and vertical marketing strategies that lead to revenue rewards. The Institute for Excellence in Sales & Business Development provides thought leader-led workshops for selling professionals across the US.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?

I have always been in product and corporate marketing with companies as large as Apple Computer to tiny start-ups. When I decided to work for myself, it seemed natural to offer my marketing expertise to as many companies as possible. A lot of companies have benefitted from my expertise. I was also fortunate to have Microsoft offer my services to many of their exceptional partners.

When and why did you start your business?

I opened Diamond Marketing (now Diamond Strategic Marketing) in February 2002. To be honest, I started working for myself because I had just been laid off. I had wanted to work for myself for years and the opportunity quickly and unavoidably presented itself. Although getting laid off is not fun, it forced me to finally start working for myself, which is what I wanted to do for years.

What challenges have you faced in your business? How have you overcome them?

A big challenge is getting associates and partners to truly understand what your new company offers. I started a few lead share groups so that I could have the opportunity to let these people know what I do. Another challenge is that when you work for yourself, you have to get really good at time management and prioritization. I’ve created support networks and hired business coaches to help me stay on track.

How do you market your business?

I do a ton of networking in professional, social, and charitable organizations. I also started a number of my own networking groups to help associates understand what DSM does and how it could help their clients. I also started an adjunct entity, the IES&BD, to help bring clients to where I was. Many of the IES&BD members are trying to accelerate their sales processes and DSM is able to help put smarter marketing programs in place to help do so.

That does not seem like "traditional marketing," can you elaborate on why and how you came to the decision that this was the best path for your business?

90% of my clients come from referrals from colleagues or past clients or word-of-mouth. My goal was to establish myself as the go-to-marketing consultant to tech companies looking to grow. Most of the time, clients are looking for evidence that you’re that person. I knew early on that if I was going to be successful, it was going to be from referrals from personal relationships. I have not gotten one client at all from “traditional marketing” mechanisms and I think most service professionals would probably say the same thing.

Tell me more about your business, do you have any employees?

I don’t have any full time employees although at times I’ve had up to 20 people working on our projects. These people included other consultants and marketing support people such as graphics designers, writers, and researchers. I don’t anticipate bringing anyone on board full time. There are great resources out there to tap into as needed.

You mentioned you work with local, US and International markets, do you travel a lot?

At this time, I do not travel much. It all depends on the client load. I’ve had times when my client base was distributed around the country so I was flying frequently. With technology such as skype and go-to-meeting, I can support clients without ever meeting them. For example, I’ve been providing product marketing leadership to a client in the Far East and we’ve never met!

What's your schedule like, what's a typical day for Fred Diamond?

Good question, have a look:

5:00 AM                  Exercise.

6:00 AM                  Blog or book writing.

7:00 AM                  Make children breakfast and prepare them for school.

8:00 AM                  Mandatory breakfast meeting with anyone. I always make it a point to have breakfast with someone, even though I typically drink a protein shake
in the morning.

9:00 AM–Noon   Client activity. Attend meetings at their location typically.

Noon                      Mandatory lunch meeting with a prospect or colleague/partner.

1:30–4:00 PM     IES&BD meetings, either with members
or sponsors.

4:00 PM                 Phone calls with prospects.

5:00–7:30 PM     Charity or professional networking.

7:30 PM                 Dinner, homework, etc., quality time
with wife and kids.

10:30 PM               Sleep.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?

You have the freedom to pursue additional business opportunities. When you work for a company, you really need to give your best effort to making the company successful, which restricts you from pursuing new opportunities that might arise. If you have any entrepreneurial drive, this can be quite frustrating.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?

One client hired me for a three month engagement that lasted nine years. They also usually tell me how smart I am.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?

Get your spouse on board. If your spouse or life partner is not on-board, the experience can be much, much more difficult than it should be.

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