Hey, we are on air again. You’ve made it through the business plan (or at least you started) and the learning platforms and now you wonder how you will market yourself. I’ve met many aspiring or new freelancers and small business owners and the marketing part is the thing, which gives them nightmares.
“For the life of me I cannot figure out this dang marketing thing”.
“I feel overwhelmed”.
“I don’t know where to start”.
“There are so many social media platforms, which ones should I choose? I cannot be on ALL of them”?!?
Sounds familiar? Yep, there are things to be considered,
And this is a nice but (pun intended), because making a marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated or long.
When you break something down to pieces, suddenly you see a path and suddenly it becomes not only manageable, but enjoyable.
Marketing Plan (I promise to keep this blog post as short as possible, as I’ve been criticized my posts are often too long).
I will divide the marketing plan into several steps.
First you install your pretty behind on a chair and write down a company analysis. Wait, don’t run, it’s nothing scary.
On a sheet of paper you have to describe what your company does. What kind of products it offers, which pain points it solves, what kind of benefits it provides. Remember, we are not talking about features.
Let me give you an example: You are selling a car and the car has so and so horse power. A car’s horse power is a feature. What this horse power does is a benefit, a problem solver. So, that’s how you handle your products and services and that’s how you market them – you market the benefits, not merely the features.
Next: Write down the products and services you offer with your competition AND your customers in mind – what sets you apart from your competition? Why are your products better? Do you offer something unique, that no one else does? Why should your potential customers choose YOU instead of the competition?
Now we have to make a SWOT analysis. SWOT, as you probably already know stands behind Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Strengths we’ve talked about above: These are all the good things about you and your products.
What about weaknesses? Are you, maybe, new to this whole thing? Are you lacking knowledge and experience? Or your resources are limited? You live in a small place or the competition in your field is fierce? Opportunities: Your place is a one-stop-shop for customers; You can use Internet as your marketing tool; Because you work online you could extend to many geographical areas; You found a new niche… All of these are opportunities.
Threats: Maybe you have to compete with big brand names; you offer seasonal products; freelancers from other countries can afford to offer lower rates and you don’t know how to justify yours.
Answer honestly all of these questions. De as detailed as possible, it is important.
I’ve seen many good and many bad sellers. Good sellers have one thing in common: they believe that the product or service they are selling is the best there is. If you truly believe in your product, you sound more convincing and this is a big attraction magnet to customers. In order to do that, you have to go deep. Analyze your product and write down: what makes it different; what makes it better; what makes it more desirable? Think along the lines: what you are selling: Does it resolve a problem? Is it may be cheaper than the competition’s product, but offers as good quality as theirs? What makes you or your product outstanding or hard to resist?
Let me tell you a joke, which will teach you something very important in sales. It will give you the right mindset on how to approach clients and sell products:
“A young guy from Texas moves to California and goes to a big department store, looking for a job. The manager says, “Do you have any sales experience?” The kid says, “No, but I need the money and you have nothing to lose: I will work on commission.” The boss liked the kid so he gave him the job.
“You start tomorrow. I’ll come down after we close and see how you did.” The boy’s first day on the job was rough, but he got through it. After the store was locked up, the boss came down.
“How many sales did you make today?”
Kid says, “One.”
Boss says, “Just one? Our sales people average 20 or 30 sales a day.
How much was the sale for?”
Kid says “$201,237.64.
Boss says “201,237.64?? What the heck did you sell?”
Kid says, “First I sold him a small fish hook. Then I sold him a medium fish hook. Then I sold him a larger fish hook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down at the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat; we went down to the boat department and I sold him that twin engine Chris Craft. Then he said he didn’t think his Mercedes would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him an Escalade.”
The boss said, “A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and truck?”
Kid says, “No, he came in here to buy a box of tampons for his wife and I said “Your weekend’s shot, you might as well go fishing.”
See how the kid analyzed the client’s pain point and offered a sequence of solutions. This here, although a joke, should teach us, that we have to know and understand our potential clients’ pain points even before they know they have them, which brings us to:
The second piece of this marketing puzzle: To find out what type of clients or buyers will be attracted to your product.
When you create a product, you have to create it with a particular buyer’s persona in mind. You have to have a pretty clear idea of your target customers. Who they are? Where do they live? How old are they? What is their income? What are their pain points? How are you going to help them sleep better at night if they use your products or services? Think about that and you will see how this whole marketing scare now seems more clear and approachable.
Next step: Your goals.
What is it that you want to achieve? Make monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. Some companies make even 5-year plans.
Make sure your goals are measurable. Do you want to increase your following? Make more sales (How many more and within what period?). Or, maybe, you need to get a bigger email list? How much bigger? Make more money? How much more in a month; in three months; in a year?
Now we are coming to a VERY important part – your marketing tactics.
How are you planning to tackle this whole thing? First by knowing where your potential clients hang out. Are they online? Are they using social media platforms? Which ones? If they are teenagers you have to advertise on Instagram ,Snapchat, Twitter; If they are stay-at-home mums, Facebook and Pinterest are your bet; If they are professionals and CEO’s, then aim for LinkedIn and Twitter. If, however your audience is older folks who don’t use internet, then your bet is other types of advertisement – newspapers, billboards, cold calls…
I suggest if you are not really familiar with marketing, sales funnel and social media, to read my older blog posts, which explain in a non-complicated way what is what and how to tackle it.
Aaand now, let’s talk money, baby.
Budget. Mmm, you so much dislike this word, right? Well, no way around it, we must budget J. Here are some questions you need to answer yourself: How much are you willing to spend? How much should you spend?
If you wonder how much you should spend, the rule of thumb is to spend around 5% of your yearly revenue if you want to maintain the same numbers and around 10%, if you want to grow and get more clients.
Of course, things are not as simple if you are launching a new product, just try not to go head over heels or you get too insecure and don’t market enough. I think the topic of marketing budget deserves a blog post on it’s own. Expect it next week.
Register accounts on the social media platforms, where your target audience is.
If they are on Facebook, make a FB page and start posting at least once, but no more than 3-4 times a day. I’ve talked about it before:
Start a blog and send your blog posts to different platforms for better exposure.
Join groups and give, give, give information and advice.
Here you can find a really good and detailed blog post on freelance marketing. The information is valuable and worth reading: https://blog.bidsketch.com/leads/freelance-marketing-101/
That’s it for today. As time passes by you will learn what works and what doesn’t in your marketing. It does take some trial and error, but you will figure it out, I promise. If not, you always have us ;). So, time to start putting this marketing plan into action. Even if it is baby steps to begin with.
As always, I am available for questions, comments and suggestions.