This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
We all know how vital it is to have a marketing plan for our business. After all, if no one knows your business exists, you won’t have any business. But what does it mean to have a plan?
A marketing plan is a group of tasks that you do on a consistent schedule. For any marketing plan to work, you need a focused vision of what you want to accomplish — and then plan tasks you do on a regular basis, month after month, year after year to help you reach your goals. Over time, you will discover what is giving you the best results and tweak the plan as needed.
Having a niche can assist you in getting even more focused marketing efforts because you will know what the needs are for that particular industry and be able to use hot button words that speak to their greatest desires, all while showing them you are the authority in that niche.
Preparing Your Marketing Plan
Start by evaluating what you’d like to accomplish and write it down. Whether it’s getting more clients or getting known by your target market, knowing your goals will keep your mind free of clutter. After all, you can’t get where you want to go if you don’t know where that is.
Marketing plans consist of many moving parts, and you want to have a variety of them working together to get the best results. There are so many options when it comes to marketing your business, so I have included the tasks that will give you a well-rounded plan and make it easy for you to get started.
Here are some great ideas for marketing your business. Some of them are very easy to implement and you will just have to update the information occasionally, and some of the tasks you will want to do regularly. Commit to your marketing mix and watch your business grow.
A website is a must for any business, but even more so for solo professionals. This will be the hub of your marketing plan so you want it to look professional, not complicated.
Be sure it is clear what service you provide. If you are a B2B copywriter, say it on your home page. I know it seems silly to say, but you would be surprised how many websites I’ve seen where I can’t figure out exactly what service the provider is providing! Also, be sure your contact information is on every page of your site and be sure it is easy to find.
There are a lot of websites and social media outlets where you can post your profile, but the best one for business professionals is LinkedIn.
It can be overwhelming to post your profile but remember, you don’t have to do it all in a day. Plan out what you want to add and do it over a week or two. You can make changes anytime, so don’t let the fear of not getting it right stop you from doing it at all.
This is an easy task that will take you just minutes to implement but can be a very important in regularly promoting your business. Use your name, business name, website address, phone number, and a short tagline. Keep it simple and focused. You may be surprised how this simple thing can lead to some great new clients.
Having business cards with you at all times is an important marketing tool. You never know when you will meet someone who could use your service or know someone who can, and being able to hand out a business card means no missed opportunities to promote how you serve your clients.
Once you’re open for business, write a press release announcing it and post it online to the media outlets. You can also send it directly to your local media if you are focusing on building your business local.
Even if you have been in business for a while, you can use press releases. Any time you add a new service, release a product, or have anything newsworthy to report, a press release is a great way to do it.
Letters of introduction are a good way to connect with potential clients without trying to sell to them. You introduce yourself and let them know what you do and ask a thought-provoking question.
Your only goal here is to make an introduction, but you might be surprised that many of the businesses you connect with will keep you in the back of their minds if they use your service or have been thinking about it. That’s why it’s so important to follow up with a call, email, a postcard, or another letter, this time asking them to visit your website for a free report or to take advantage of a free consultation.
Having an e-newsletter is a great stay-in-touch plan. The important thing to understand is that you don’t want to sell in your newsletter. You want it to be fun to read and provide useful information. This is a great opportunity to show that you know your niche and allow your personality to shine through. It also keeps you in the mind of potential clients.
Making cold calls takes a special type of person. If you are comfortable calling, I suggest you do it. You can get quick wins this way, but if you’re prone to hurt feelings, you may want to put this on the back burner.
Now that you have some ideas on how to market your business, let’s talk about a schedule for putting the plan into action.
The first thing you need to put into place is your website. You want all your marketing materials to include your web address, so having it ready to go is your first task.
Remember, your website is your marketing hub. When clients want to know if they should call you, they will visit your site to learn more about you and look at your samples. You want to keep it simple, yet professional and easy to navigate.
Although this is something that you do one time, you will update it with new samples, articles, or other valuable information at least once a month. Of course, you can add information more often as you have the time (more frequent posting is better).
Schedule — right away; then, add content at least once a month.
2) Business cards
Next, get your business cards printed. Again, you want professional-looking cards that include your name, phone number, email address, and website address. Keep them simple and clean looking.
Schedule — right away; re-order as needed.
3) Email signature
Your email signature is quick and easy but something a lot of professionals overlook. Take five minutes and do that now!
Schedule — right away.
Start writing your LinkedIn profile. Once your profile is complete, spend some time on the site each week and begin to make connections and endorse other professionals. This is a great place to find clients in your niche.
Schedule — weekly.
5) Press release
Write your first press release and submit it to an online site like PRWeb.
Schedule — 2 to 4 times a year or as you have business news.
6) Cold calling
When you are open for business and ready for clients, make a list of prospects and start cold calling. You could end up with a client meeting by days’ end!
Schedule — weekly.
7) Direct mail
Start with your list of prospects. As you add more, just follow the plan.
- Introductory letter
- Second letter — offer free consultation or free report — one month later
- Postcard — two months later and then repeat four times a year
Schedule — ongoing.
8) Email marketing
Set up your e-newsletter and write articles to include in your first issue. This will go to everyone who signs up on your website, so offering a free report for signing up is a great idea. Also, your newsletter should focus on the subject of your niche.
Schedule — ongoing: weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
These are just some of the marketing tasks you can begin to implement to ensure you have a well-rounded marketing plan. Remember to write out your schedule so it will be easy for you to stay on track — and don’t be afraid to add new ideas and drop what isn’t working for you.
If you just commit to spending one day a week on marketing tasks, you will have a flourishing business in no time at all.
Maria Pease is a writer & author of the Sam Parker Mystery series. Learn more at www.mariapease.com.