Marketing! Oh No! Often just the word sends chills into the bones of many small business people and freelancers. But ask yourself: how can I make people aware of who I am and what I do? Answer: Marketing! Many people just don’t understand what “marketing” means, and often procrastinate because they feel they don’t know how to successfully market themselves.
Marketing is simply putting you and your business in a position to solve the problems of others. When you understand what the challenges and problems your potential customers or clients face every day, then you can craft a plan that focuses on how your products or services can help them to solve those problems.
Developing a marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated. A marketing plan is simply a way to communicate with people how you can be of service to them.
- In what ways can you and will you contact people who may need your products and services in the future?
- How often will you create a contact, make a connection, advertise or announce the unique benefits of your business to others?
- How will you track your marketing efforts?
After you’ve outlined the “big picture” for your marketing efforts, it’s time to plan some of the details.
- Contacts: do you have a contact capture form on your website? Do you have website?
- Social media: are you focused on maximizing at least 1-2 social media outlets where you can offer valuable information about your business? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Google+? Pinterest? Email? Start with one method, and then expand your outreach as you get more familiar, comfortable, and experienced with each method.
- Traditional advertising: depending on your business, the tried and true traditional advertising methods such as radio/tv ads, newspaper ads, and the telephone business directories just may work for you.
- Networking: face-to-face business networking provides a great opportunity for you to meet potential customers and clients and meet and greet people with your elevator pitch.
- Referrals: the best time to ask your current customers and clients for referrals and testimonials is as soon as you have made a successful sale of your project or provided them with the perfect service offering for their needs.
Your marketing plan is a separate, yet integral part of your business plan. It can be as simple as a list of activities you do every day or every week to communicate with potential customers or clients. Design an easy-to-use tracking system and also keep track of the costs of each type of marketing you do with your business accounting software.
Once you have a developed a written marketing plan, followed your plan regularly, and tracked the success of each of your activities, you will soon find that you actually enjoy marketing. The key is to have a plan and do some kind of marketing every day.